Eulogy: Luvv Letter To Mom

From Memorial Mass
July 18, 2015

Dear Beautiful Mom,

We’re gathered here as family, companions and friends, to celebrate your wonderful life, done YOUR way, and to express our luvv and joy. I had no idea how deeply I would be hit with your passing — my cells feel different. My thoughts are different, my feelings are new.

It has been such a privilege to be part of your life; Bernie’s Journey. And in your 93 years, you have really packed a punch! To walk and dance this life with you has been a real honor, and now in Death, I’m sure you’ll have more to show and tell for all of us who are willing to listen and learn.

Your wonderful life has been a showcase of your proud Irish heritage, your deep Catholic faith, and the essence of Bernie: determined, wise, feisty, resourceful, courageous, thoughtful, generous and oh so lucky! You even planned this day when Susanville is already celebrating! In Bernie’s honor—this will be Bernie’s parade from now on!

About a week before you passed, you asked me, “Why are so many people luvving me? What is it about me?” And you were genuinely curious, and grateful and humbled by the magic in your life, the people who have stepped forward and brought an ease to you during this really tough time. Connie was willing to come and do house calls for your medical needs. Thank you, Connie! And LaNina came on a regular basis, not just as a care giver but as a loyal friend and such a gem to the whole family. We are so grateful. And the deep companionship of your lifeline was your bridge group; many of you are here today. Your bridge friends kept you sharp, happy and competitive, and that was important!

We are here because of your generous heart. You left such a lasting impression on so many; baking a cake, giving people flowers, making people laugh: you always seemed to have extra to give. Especially for your family.

When we were young, you gave us guidance, validation, and an incredible example of what courage looked like and what it meant to build character. And as things changed and we all got older, you were able to give us MONEY! Your kids and grandkids luvv you for that too! You luvved being able to do that; to enrich our lives.

Your thoughtfulness extended into the community, and both Dad and you rang the bell for Salvation Army because you were gratified by being able to assist those less fortunate. Several years ago, after Dad had passed, you continued on. It was a Christmas eve and no one would ring the bell, so you said you would. It was a really cold, blistery day and you were standing outside of Safeway ringing the bell and passing along your holiday cheer. Somebody brought you a chair, and of course you were so thankful. Then some young boy convinced his mom to buy you gloves because you looked cold, and someone else went and brought you coffee! The kicker was, when it was all done, you had collected the most money for Salvation Army than any other shift that year, and you were SO PROUD!

The quality that stands out the most for me of all of what you bring forward was and is your WILLINGNESS TO LEARN. You refuted getting old. And if O.L.D. is Obstructing Learning Daily,it did not matter that you were frail and weak, you just got stronger and stronger in your spirit, to the end.

As I look back to when Tony went to school here at Lassen College, it was Tony who found Lake Almanor. Then when Dad got tired of city life, he turned to you and said, “I’m going to Lake Almanor; ya comin’?” And you did!! You packed us kids in the car and our grand adventure started, our life was here because of your willingness! And when Dad said, “I want you to be in the real estate office with me,” you changed careers and moved from being a beautician to being a realtor. You just stepped in and were willing to do what it took. Today you have wonderful kids and grandkids who bring you such a variety of unusual, quirky, entrepreneurial, strange ideas — and you welcome them all!

Two years ago, I came to you and said, “I no longer need a mother, I see you as my wise companion and sage.” You initially were deeply offended, for being a mother was so important to you. And then it took about three months, and you wrote me a lengthy letter about how cool it was to be my companion.

You were willing to learn to the end. You went from wanting to be buried in the wooden box that Greg built for you, because you were going to frugal; to being cremated and buried with Merri’s ashes on Tony’s property in Montana; to deciding to donate your body to science — the ultimate act of recycling — (and you were a recycler!!). Some lucky medical student will get to know you and learn from you…still.

It was one of the greatest honors and highlights of my life, to be with you when you passed. I actually got to watch Death take you with such a profound grace and peace, and even joy. It’s one of the most beautiful memories I know. I got to witness how personal Life is, and how tender Death is, how embracing All is.

But the strongest memory that I am carrying forward is the delightful, childish smile on your face that morning. You had dressed yourself in the green Kelly Klan reunion t-shirt and you were happily going to bridge! You were ready, and you had an impish, childlike smile to your core.

I thought it was because you were going to play bridge — it was because you were going HOME. And as long as we luvv you, your essence and presence remains.

Welcome Home, Mom!

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