No Mincing Words

My mom passed away about a month ago on July 10th, 2013. I loved her so much. And now my attention turns to my Dad. It’s so difficult. Together for 50 years and then suddenly alone. You can’t cheat your way out of grief so I’m told. The only way out is through.

My daughter and I both wrote eulogies for the service. I guess for posterity, and because they say the things I’d want to say anyway, here they are:

From my 11 year old daughter:

My grandma and I had a very special bond.

She always put me first. And she spoiled me like a grandma should. No matter how much Nonno thought she shouldn’t.

But she also made sure I knew her thoughts on the important things. And she didn’t expect or require me to agree with them. She always told me that she thought I could be a hairdresser, but only after I had my engineering degree. My dad argued that becoming a lawyer would be better. She did not agree.

She also worried about me like a grandma should. Worried about how I was doing in school, about the friends I had, and whether they were good ones. While I may have complained about the worrying, I loved it too.

I miss my grandma and it hurts so much that she is gone. But I know that she is in a better place now.

Grandma, I need to tell you that while I may have complained sometimes, you taught me so much.

And I miss you so much, but I will help take care of Nonno too. I will try to boss him around as good as you did. And Grandma, I love you.


And from me:

My mom was a strong woman. As you may or may not know, she was ill for a long time. Her breathing capacity so limited. Waiting 20 or 30 minutes to catch her breath after only a few minutes of exertion. Not once during those many painful weeks did she complain to me. Her first question to me was always, and I mean *always* about Emily.

During one of the last times I sat with her, she couldn’t speak. I told her not to worry. I told her that I was wearing clean underwear and I had no holes in my socks. Her eyes, dazed and exhausted, suddenly darted and stared directly at me. Those things she said all those years; My eyes rolling; The “yes mom” responses I gave.; Not a single one of those exchanges went to waste.

Mom taught me so much. Whether it was how to do laundry at age 10, or letting me experiment with cooking an apple pie from scratch while she slept during shift work. She wanted us to experience so much. Sending my brother and I off to horseback riding camp, swimming lessons or watching us learn how to fall in Judo. While my brother complained alot stronger than I did, and was able to weasel out of certain unsavoury things, I know that he appreciates the value of those childhood trials as much as I do. Thanks mom for not always giving us a choice. For pushing us on to different and better things.

My mother and I did not always agree on everything. Her views were usually more conservative than mine. But she never dismissed my opinion. Even when we didn’t agree, she always made me feel valued and respected. She respected people who thought for themselves. It was okay to respectfully disagree. It never changed the fact that, as she put it, I was stuck with her. I love that I was.

If you asked anyone who knew my mom, they would tell you that she never minced words. Many times that got her into trouble. But many more times it served her well. She valued honesty and clarity. She didn’t understand why anyone would want to dance around an issue when they could just deal with it head on. I’m sure this came from her own life and career. In emerg, there is little time for frittering around. And that attitude didn’t disappear when she retired. When they wouldn’t let her nurse any longer, she decided to take up hairdressing. She took the requisite training, made great friends along the way, and landed a job at First Choice. She was proud of herself, and we were proud of her. But I chuckle at the stories of clients sharing their personal issues and complaints and expecting the usual commiseration and sympathy. She just wasn’t built for that. If she felt people were at fault for their own troubles, she had absolutely no problem telling them so. I respect that trait so much. But it doesn’t make for such a wonderful customer experience.

I was blessed with a wonderful mother. She let my brother and I know, without fail, that we were so important to her, and that we didn’t have a choice in that. That we could get angry and make mistakes (sometimes huge ones) and that she would always be there for us, no matter what. And she did it in the best way possible. Not by telling us. But by showing us. Over and over again, throughout our lives.

But I was also blessed with a wonderful father. A man I admire so much. A man who never disappointed me. A father who was a shining example of what a dad should be. And in honour of my mother, let’s not mince words here. Her strong personality required such patience at times. And he always had it. But even with all those shining examples he set, he still surprised me with the strength, compassion and love he showed in the last troubled years, and especially in the last few difficult weeks. If my mom ever showed great judgement, it was in her choice of husband and father.

And when her health problems worsened, her concern was about him. A couple of years ago, she somehow got him to get a laptop, and take a computer course. He got a smartphone and she insisted that I show him how to use it. She told me that she didn’t want him to be stuck after she was gone, she wanted him not to be left behind or left alone. I can promise you this mom. He won’t be.

While I am glad that her suffering is over, the strong influence she had makes me miss her that much more. I honestly feel angry that she had to suffer. And angry with myself that maybe I didn’t say enough or do enough to show her how great I thought she was. In my heart I hope that she knew that. I hope that she realized just exactly how so very much of what I am is because of her.

I love you mom.


2 thoughts on “No Mincing Words

  1. I am so very, very sorry, Richard. Having lost my own mom three years ago, I know how it feels. Just be warned that the grief comes and goes at the oddest of times, and will hit you out of the blue. Hang in there.

  2. Richard, I’ve been seriously lacking in my visits around the net lately so I just came across this sad news about your Mom. So sorry to here it — it’s one of the passages we all have to make.

    In my case my father went first and my Mom lived almost 20 years alone…there wasn’t a single day I don’t think that she didn’t wish she could be with him.

    I remember once in a rare moment she told me she was afraid to die and in the end that thought came back to me as I was sitting beside her bed at hospice as she struggled for each ragged breath…I took her hand and told her it was okay for her to go and not to be afraid. I doubt she heard me but two breaths later she was gone.

    They never really leave us…they’re a part of us and as long as we remember them, and love them, they live in us.

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