A Tribute to Mom, Part 2 – Her Final Gift

When I started writing for a public audience, I knew that many of my initial writings and journal would potentially become published.  They were the basis for much of what I wrote in my story “Walking My Mother Home”, published in Journeys to Mother Love.  One year after the acceptance of that story by Cladach Publishing, and to mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing, I have decided to publically share her eulogy (unedited) as I gave it two years ago today.

It is longer than my normal blog posts, but I hope you’ll indulge me this sentimental opportunity to more publically honor my mother for the sacrifice her life became so that I would be free from the legacy of mental illness.  It was her final gift to me and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Giving the eulogy Mom's Memorial Service, February 2011.

Giving the eulogy Mom’s Memorial Service, February 2011.

And These Were the Words I Spoke

When I think about how my mom impacted my life and the legacy she left me, a variety of things come to mind, some more significant than others.  They have all made me the woman I am today.

I’ll start by sharing a little bit about my favorite times with my mother.  I have many pleasant childhood memories of us living in the Pacific Northwest.  I fell in love with that part of the country as a child and returned to it a few years after I got married.  It has been my home ever since.

When I was young, my family had a trailer and we spent most of our summer weekends at a beautiful state park in Western Washington where I learned how to swim.  After we moved to Portland, we would take the trailer to the Oregon coast.  This is where I hope to scatter her remains.

I have many pleasant memories of her taking us to the beach or to the pool while my father and brother John were out on the boat.  My favorite meal on those trips was always the fresh fried Rainbow Trout.  As an adult I have visited these beautiful places with my children.  Unfortunately, we don’t fish or camp, but I want them to sense the beauty of these majestic places.  Thank you, Mom, for those joyful memories.

My mom gave me my sense of style—always looking for a trinket to accessorize an outfit or to decorate my home.  When her wardrobe turned to hospital type gowns I bought her some scarves to accessorize them so she could have something feminine and special to show off her beauty and individual style.  And today one of those scarves is adorning the flowers.

She also gave me my love of photographs.  I have about 95 pictures lining both sides of the hallway in my home—each school picture of my kids and various family or vacation photos.  I love to take pictures and don’t go very far without my camera.  In fact, my favorite gift to give or receive is a photograph.  I think this ties in well with the sensitive side that I got from my mother.  I used to think I was too sensitive, but now I know that God uniquely wired me this way and it is a gift—something I share with my mother.

Final Remains

Keepsake with final remains.

The most significant impact my mom had on me was instilling in me the love of Jesus.  She was a practicing Catholic and took us to mass and catechism classes every Sunday.  As a young child, I don’t think I enjoyed attending the mass very much.  It seemed long and boring.  I didn’t understand it.  I do have fond memories though of the church changing to a ‘folk mass’ format during those years and really liking that.

When my parent’s marriage started to deteriorate, I also fondly remember the priest, Father Bertram, from the parish taking special interest in us kids.  He would take us out roller skating or to the carnival.  He made us feel very loved.

I left the Catholic Church as a teen and had many years when my faith was pretty non-existent.  Throughout those years, my mom would send me letters with her prayers for me and my family.  All of those prayers were answered when I found my way back to the Lord about 12 years ago.

Today I am forever grateful to her for planting those seeds of faith in me and not giving up on me.  I have a passion for Christ and His ability to transform us if we surrender to His will.  Thank you, Mom.  It is because of your faithfulness that I will join you someday in eternity.

Lastly, I want to share with you my gratitude to God for how he so perfectly ordained the last 18 months of my mother’s life.  My mother had a major stroke that left her partially paralyzed and barely able to speak.  It was a miracle that she survived that stroke.  I believe it was the intercessory prayer of my Aunt Mary, my mother’s sister, that kept her alive so I could see her again.

Since that time we made some very difficult decisions including the decision to put her on a feeding tube.  There were many times that I questioned that decision.  Thankfully though that decision was what opened up the opportunity for me and my brothers, John and Glen, to all see my mom.  We had that family reunion in December 2009.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to see my mom three times since that stroke.  Each time I was able to serve her and love on her in a way that I had never been able to in the past.  These trips were incredibly difficult for me, yet extremely rewarding and joyful at the same time.

Then six months ago, my family opened our home to an exchange student from Madrid.  Our families became fast friends and like family too.  Shortly after Pedro returned to Spain, he found out that his grandmother was dying.  His mother and I have been supporting each other and praying for each other and our mothers ever since.  Even though we don’t speak the same language we do serve the same God.

Pedro’s grandmother passed away 3 weeks ago.  Since Pedro and his family are Catholic, I scheduled a mass to be said for his grandmother.  I also had a mass said for my mother about two weeks ago.  Then a few days ago at the nursing home, someone shared with me, someone who knew her well, how my mother’s countenance changed to a more peaceful state about two weeks ago.  I firmly believe that God answered those prayers.

Cemetary burial of cremated remains. Mom’s final gift to me – freedom of the legacy of mental illness.

At that time, I was also praying that God would make it very clear to me when to return to see my mother—regardless of the outcome.  The time I spent ministering to Pedro’s family throughout their mourning process was really God’s perfect preparation for my mother’s passing.  It wasn’t just what I needed; it was what my mother needed to go in peace.

I’ve been spending time in Catholic mass the last few weeks, lighting candles and shedding tears.  While my heart’s desire may have been to be with her one last time while she was alive, and specifically when she passed, it wasn’t meant to be.  I could chose to be angry at God for that, but instead, I am grateful for the wonderful visits I had with my mom and grateful that I was able to just hop on the plane regardless and honor my mom this one last time.  I praise God for this opportunity, for the strength that He has given me to get through these days and that my mother is now in heaven with Carmen, Pedro’s grandmother.  They are both at peace.

Living Out My New Identity

Giving that eulogy in front of a room full of people I barely knew or didn’t know at all was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  But like answering the call and writing my manuscript, I knew I had to do it.  It was an act of obedience.

It was a painful process to return home and integrate these new identity revelations into my life.  I accepted the uniqueness that God gifted me with and started seeing the world through the new lens of healing and with hope for the future.  Gone was the fear that I was mentally ill.  Today I am still grounded in my identity and uniqueness and don’t shy away from expressing my sensitivity or my faith.  This blog is one of the fundamental ways in which I maintain that voice.

While I’ve gotten used to being vulnerable in recovery circles and on my blog, it feels pretty risky to share my mother’s eulogy online.  So, if you got this far in the post, I hope you’ll take a moment to ‘like’ this post or share any comments below.  And if your relationship with your mother needs repairing, just remember that it is never too late for reconciliation and forgiveness.  Just pray and partner with God.  He will give you the strength and courage to do it.  (Philippians 4:13).

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5 Comments

  1. Your love for your mother is such a delight! I love how you honor her as a gift. And to our most amazing God, that all glory and honor is delivered to Him through your most amazing story in obedience, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness self-control!

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    • Thank you, Susan! Your comment brings to mind something that Pastor Kristin says, “Obedience is always the answer”. It is all for Him. I know this rings true for you on your journey as well. Blessings! Ardis

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  2. Reblogged this on Making Me Bold and commented:

    This week marks the 3-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Last year I shared her eulogy on my blog. It continues to be the post with the most hits (interest). I am sharing it again to commemorate the sacrifice my mother’s life became for me. May it inspire you to turn your healing into hope.

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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