The facts of my mother’s life are largely unremarkable, except for the tragedies she experienced. She lost her first husband in World War II, and her youngest child to leukemia at the age of five. But facts can’t describe the impact she had on everyone who knew her and loved her. In her eulogy, I tried to communicate what made her special, and why she was the most influential person in my life. While it was well received, I wanted my mother’s tribute to last more than a day. So here it is, for her, my grandchildren, or anyone who never had the good fortune to know my mother in person.
One of my earliest memories is of my mother -- telling me that in this world there were only two kinds of people: givers and takers. My mother was a giver. She never had much money, but she gave freely of herself. And those of us who knew her took that gift gratefully, wrapped ourselves in her kindness, and gathered together for warmth around the inexhaustible fire of her love.
My father used to say: “She’ll talk to anyone!” And that was true—she would. And before she had finished talking, she would have made you her friend. My mother made friends the way trees make leaves – naturally, effortlessly, and in similar quantities. And though she never had much in the way of material things, my mother was very wealthy in the bounty of her friends.
My mother lived simply and made few demands on life. She loved children, the sun, and games of any description—so long as she could change the rules, even if only a little. I could go on for hours, but at the end of the day, the value you place on a life like my mother’s depends on what you value in your own life. If you value money, fame or status in the so-called great world, then you would say that my mother was a good and decent person, a loving mother and devoted wife, the best of grand-mothers, and a wonderful friend. But—in the end—a tiny, fragile candle struggling to light up a very small corner of the world.
If, however, you believe that the most important events in life occur in the day-to-day moments of living . . . if you feel that nothing is more important than the happiness of a child . . . if you think that love counts for more than money and kindness is stronger than force—then my mother was a beacon—large and brilliant—illuminating the lives of everyone she touched.
My mother was the best person I have ever known. To me she was a clear pool, where I could refresh myself in its coolness and wash away the troubles of my world. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being her son, and I will hold her memory close—in my heart—until that time when I will seek her again . . . in the sure knowledge that if a better place exists, then she will be there—waiting to refresh me with her love.