I've been thinking about posting this for quite some time but wasn't sure if it was appropriate. I didn't question the appropriateness because I'm a private person (my life really is an open book - cite this blog as evidence) but I wondered if I would be crossing some sort of blogging boundary that, perhaps, I should honor. I finally decided that this isn't really any different than many things I have written about my mother and shared here. The difference this time is that this is my mother's eulogy...the piece that I wrote and read at her funeral. I am posting this primarily because I'm proud of it and because it will be good background information for another post I am planning to write. So...without further ado... One summer night, when I was five, my mother sat on the patio drinking with her friends. I was there too, running around in the back yard, listening to their laughter and trying to catch lightning bugs. When I finally caught one, I ran to my mother to show her and she smiled broadly and took the bug from me. She turned away and, when she turned back, she affixed the glowing ember of the lightning bug to my finger and it shone in the night like an emerald. I was in awe and, in that moment, believed that my mother was magic.
Now, magical may not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking of my mother. Words like practical, tough, stubborn, and opinionated probably come a bit more easily. Over the years, my mother and I disagreed about many things. We expected too much of each other and disappointed one another on more than one occasion. Through all of that, however, we loved each other fiercely. We shared simple moments of laughter and more profound times of celebration. This is how it is with families. We are born into a group of people with whom we may have little in common and we are charged with making it work. We love each other in spite of our differences and it is precisely these differences that help us grow as people. We become better people for having known and loved each other.
When I became a mother, I made a mental list of all of the things I would do differently and had a grand plan to make my children adore me. Well, let me tell you, I have done all of those things and there are still times when my children think that I am the "meanest mom ever". I am making so many mistakes, some of the same ones my mother made and many more that are uniquely my own. My children will certainly aspire to do things differently than I have done and they will have to learn the same lesson that I have learned - we are all human. We are imperfect...and we are all simply doing the best that we can. Each day is filled with a thousand little decisions and some we make thoughtfully and some we do not. Regardless, each choice becomes a strand in the tapestry of our lives and it rarely looks like the masterpiece we envisioned when we began.
My grandmother once told me that death makes saints of everyone because we choose to remember the best in our loved ones. We can't change the past and can't know the future. We can only control the choices we make today. So, today, I am making a conscious choice to remember all of the good. I will remember my mother's laughter, sitting by her side snapping beans and the time we spent playing cards. I will remember with a smile all of the crazy things she made me do in service of her strong work ethic. I will remember the look on her face as she held, first, my son and, then, my daughter in the first weeks of their lives. I will remember the last kiss that she gave me and the way her hand felt in mine. Today, I choose to remember that summer night nearly 35 years ago when my mother was my hero. I will cherish the memory of a single lightning bug and my mother's magic. Today, I will remember the beauty of my mother's life and I will choose love.