Homily for Mama

May 21, Mama passed away.  She led a long, rich, full life, and always wanted a true celebration at the end.  For her service, she wanted each grandchild and great-grand, to have a flower in their hand, so you bought each child a creamy rose to hold in her honor.  She wanted champagne toasts afterwards.  After fussing with your sisters about everything from hymns to ham biscuits–you all shared joyful clinks of champagne after the service.  (Mama also wanted the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band to play, but that we couldn’t manage).

You five spirited children tussled just like old times.  But you did it.  You and your sisters and brothers hugged, bonded together and laid the last parent to rest.   Something you could not have imagined fifty, forty, thirty, twenty years ago–much less a decade ago.

As the minister summed up in her homily–composed of random recollections from you all–your Mother embraced everything from yogurt, to yoga, to Carl Jung--back in the early 1970’s, way before it was considered ‘cool.’  Mama was open to concepts and beliefs (although still closed to all that was ‘tacky’) and counselled everyone you knew–your aunts and cousins and willing friends, and just about anyone who stopped by the house.

At your age, 55–she began mapping out a second career and finished her college degree in New York City.  She then got her Masters in Social Work, specializing in Gerontology.  She practiced psychotherapy in New York, and again back south after your father retired.  Meanwhile, Mama kept hosting her signature parties for her family and friends.  “Labor of love,” she always said with a smile, without a sigh of martyrdom.

Gradually, Mama turned into a powerful matriarch before your very eyes.  This is what family does for each other.  Families are there for one another.  Families go out of their way for one another.  Change your flight and stay later, come earlier.  Always, always– do whatever it takes, to be together as a family as long as possible.

Then at age 80, Parkinson’s slowly set in and she was just not herself.  She missed your father, who died suddenly from a heart attack at age 72.  They were soul mates.  She was the love of his life, and he was hers.  They were married for fifty years.

“Canada geese mate for life,” they used to say, arm-in-arm, watching the geese fly overhead and then settle in their yard.

Here’s to you, Mama.  Here’s to the dance.  And here’s to you and Dad.  

Many, many thanks, to our friends who have given us such huge support.


About reelingintheyears.wordpress.com

A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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38 Responses to Homily for Mama

  1. Tori Nelson says:

    Oh, I am heartbroken for you. But so, so glad that you were able to celebrate what sounds like an incredible life she led. Cheers to Mama!

  2. ryoko861 says:

    Your mama was beautiful! She did lead a full life! This was a wonderful tribute!

    • Aww, thank you, Ryoko! We have been scrambling trying to find old photos of her, and mine are piled in a heap in a cabinet 🙂 Time to dust them off and frame a few.
      Down the road, I want to post more tiny funny stories about her. She had a great sense of humor.

  3. Civil McGowan says:

    so sweet, sad, beautiful and powerful all at once. what an inspiration she was to all of her friends and family, and to me right now for reading what you wrote.

  4. comingeast says:

    I know this was hard to write, but you did a beautiful job. How hard it is to say good-bye to the last parent. You feel a little bit like an orphan for awhile. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Coming east, I can’t tell you how touched I was to get back home after this and read your sweet message about your post.
      Exactly–like a wandering orphan. I went back and forth about whether to even mention it, but I thought lots of people have gone through this already and are going through it now, and we can lift each other up!

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post of honor and love.

  6. Kim says:

    So sorry for your loss. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute to a truly amazing woman.

  7. Laura says:

    Made me cry – A lovely tribute

  8. I love your description of your parents relationship — walking arm in arm. Beautiful. What a special family they created and nurtured, as evidenced by the way you and your siblings handled the service!

  9. I love the post,but it made me cry.My mom died 5.22.09
    Your parents had such a beautiful relationship.I love to read stories like that.

  10. Oh, Reeling, what a lovely tribute to your Mama. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been and now I know. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am so sorry for your loss and understand the emotions you must be going through. One does feel like an orphan for a time after losing that last living parent. I’m here for you, if you need a shoulder and will be keeping you in my prayers. Enjoy going through all those pictures. You’ll find some beautiful ones to frame, I know!

  11. Leah says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. But what a beautiful tribute you wrote to her. Sounds like you honored her exactly as she wished. My thoughts are with you!

  12. winsomebella says:

    Beautiful words, marvelous tribute. Thanks for sharing. Peace.

  13. Thank you so much, Winsome Bella. Reading your recent post gave me such serenity.

  14. Val says:

    I’m so sorry. Hugs.

  15. Thanks so much, Val. Was just admiring your latest work of art!

  16. Oh, Reeling…I’m so sorry about your mom…she sounds a little like mine with the part about getting into New Age things in the 1970’s before it was cool! My mom’s 72nd birthday would have been May 25th…she died in 2008. I still miss her…

    Hugs to you,

  17. Thanks for the hugs, Wendy! I’m sorry for your loss, too. I’ll be thinking of you next May, as well.

  18. Wanda says:

    “Here’s to the dance…” what a lovely sentiment that somehow embraces all the experiences of a married (or even a single) life. My (9) siblings and I said goodbye to both our parents in an astonishingly brief time and far too soon for either one of them, but I’m afraid we didn’t do it with the grace and dignity you describe here. Still, I think each of them would have pleased with the life celebrations we presented in their honor.

  19. Kim Holloway says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you recently lost your mom. Thank you for introducing us to her with such a beautiful tribute. I lost my mom on May 17, 2007. I think she and your mom would have gotten along famously, considering their mutual loathing of tackiness.

    Hugs to you.

  20. Thanks so much Kim! And I agree–too bad we couldn’t park them together on a bench in the middle of Myrtle Beach pavilion and let them behold the sights. (Much less just dropped them off at Wal-Mart)…

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother, too. I’m going to plant a peony in her memory (like my friend Beth did for her father) because it will bloom every May here. I haven’t planted it yet though; I waited too late and it’s too dang hot. Early next April maybe…

  21. So sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. A touching post!

  22. Thanks so much, Kris! Enjoyed reading your recent post, just now.

  23. Pingback: TLC = The Loser’s Channel | Saturday Evening Porch

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