Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Her Daughter's Goodbye

I have been struggling with how to openly discuss my recent loss on here.  My thoughts are flooded with various emotions and words come flying out of my brain but then I don't capture them...and I guess I've been waiting for this perfect tribute of a blog post for my mom but I just couldn't piece together something beautiful yet that gives justice to the gift that I will call my mom's life here on earth.  So in turn, I'll share the following - my public goodbye to my mother at her service...

Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 1pm
Hughey Funeral Home, Mount Vernon, Illinois

"To be honest, I feel completely unprepared for this. For one, I am terrified of public speaking. Two, I feel like I’m working on my mom’s eulogy about 15 years to soon…and frankly, I thought I’d be able to pawn off this responsibility to one of my sons because a 16-18 year old boy would surely love the spot light more than myself. But, alas, here we are. And really…it isn’t a “responsibility”…it is an honor. An incredible honor to stand up in front of you, the most important people in my mom’s life, and speak about arguably one of the most incredibly women I have known.

I wanted to start by telling you what I know about my mom. First of all, she was spunky. She was a fire-y little one…even at just 5’3” she could light up a room with both her personality and in the sparkly clothes she was wearing. She really liked those bright colors too. Second she was strong. And I don’t mean in just the physical sense…although hiking mountains in Utah, walking two marathons, and nearly scratching the eye balls out of someone who, let’s just say ‘crossed’ my brother…well those things surely showed her body strength. But what I’m really referring to is her internal strength. Her drive, her diligence, her tenacity, her ability to take on just about anything that came her way and handle the obstacle with determination and grace…those things made Lois get through life with a smile. And we kids did NOT make that easy. We sure gave her a hard time. First off, she raised two boys under the age of 2 as a single mom. Okay, I’m here to tell you that is NOT easy. If Greg and Roger were anything like my two boys, mom should have been running for the hills. But she sure did love her boys and she never did get over losing [my brother] Roger. She would have done anything…anything to bring him back. I’m not sure how many times when I was sick or sad that she told me “pumpkin, I wish I could feel the pain you were feeling so that you wouldn’t have to”. And she meant it. Well, mom, I never truly understood how you could feel that way until I saw what you went through in the hospital. There were times when I wish I could have been in that bed instead of you.

But let’s back up, the last few months prior to her illness were filled with family, friends, her “grandbabies”, and of course Elvis. She traveled around the country following Elvis tribute artists (or “ETAs”), screaming like a little girl as she relived the good ‘ole days, and in general making 71 years of age look young. When she wasn’t following Cody [mom's favorite 'ETA'] around, she was usually on her way to California to see Cavin and Ellis under the guise that she was ‘helping us out’ when in reality we all knew that she was happiest with her grand babies.

The last few days prior to her hospitalization she helped me throw a Halloween party for our kids. Mom dressed as a witch, played outside with the boys, and spent the afternoon trying to get Cavin and his friend Jenna to hug and kiss one another. The next day we took the boys out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. When I look back on the days prior to her hospital stay I truly think it could not of been more fun.

Her hospitalization was one of the most difficult two months in our lives. She was a fighter. And we were right there with her every step of the way. Her siblings flew all the way from here to CA to be by her side, massage her feet, take orders from mom, and relieve Papa and myself. Even mom herself said she felt so blessed to have the sisters and brothers that God blessed her with. I could not agree more. And my dad was relentless. He would claim he needed a break but he just could not leave mom. Something kept him there. As Jayne [one of mom's best friends who also spoke at the funeral] put it “there’s just that love that ties them together…forever”.

I will never understand how a vibrant, healthy 71 year old woman could be chasing her grand kids one day and then be hospitalized with atypical pneumonia 3 days later. But then again there’s a lot I don’t understand…
Now I’d like to tell you how I think her first few hours went in Heaven. When she reached Heaven’s gates I think Roger [my brother] was there to greet her. After all, he was always on the fore front of her mind. And I don’t doubt Roger was anxious to see his mom again. I’m pretty sure Grace [my grandmother who passed from breast cancer when mom was only 5] was anxiously awaiting mom’s arrival as well. Many of you know that mom and I walked 36 miles in the Avon walk every year…and in doing so we raised money for breast cancer research in Grace’s memory. There was one time in particular we were walking over the Golden Gate Bridge and mom was talking about how upset she was that she never got to know her mom. I recall her saying how she just wished she could have had more time with her. And how sometimes when she really thinks about it it made her very sad. I would always remind her that although Grace will always be her mom, God blessed her with another mother here on earth who cared for her. And Opal [my grandfather's second wife he remarried when Grace died - Opal raised my mother] sure did a wonderful job.

So I’m sure Opal was somewhere right there behind Grace greeting mom with open arms. And then Roy [my grandfather]. Now I’m sure Roy wanted to be front and center to see Lois but he was NOT going to upset his wives. But as soon as he got close enough I’m sure he gave mom a big ‘ole bear hug! Now I was never old enough to really get to know my grandpa but what I was told about him is that he was obsessed with his grand kids. We were his pride and joy. Knowing that, I’m pretty sure mom told Roy something like “if you think Jamie and Clint [my cousin] were wonderful, you should meet MY grandbabies…Cavin, Ellis, and Grace!”

Once she caught up on the stories, I imagine she marched right on up to God…because she needed to have some words with him. She had business to take care of. I imagine she stood next to God, pointed down to us and said “you see those people down there God? Those are my family. My friends. They were my everything. You make sure they are okay you hear? And if you don’t, well, you’ll have to answer to me.” God probably giggled but understood…because he is a parent too…and he understands the love and protection she has for us.

And then mom probably turned to God and said “Oh, and one more thing. Take me to Elvis!”"