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Posts Tagged ‘eulogy’

My Eulogy for Mom

I would like to begin this afternoon by thanking each and every one of you. Not just for being here to celebrate the life of my mother, but for everything you have done and continue to do for my family. Thank you, and I welcome you all here today.

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It seems like we women spend a great deal of our lives trying not to become our mothers.

I know my mom, when she was much younger, tried very hard not to become hers. That’s part of what led her into her professional career: getting out of the house to find her own life rather than living only for her family. She was not successful, though: my mother grew into a nurturing woman who took pride in caring for those close to her and who tried to live as Jesus would have wanted her to…in other words, she was just like her mother.

I saw this shift reflected most clearly in her changing reaction to her favorite movie, Gone with the Wind. Mom used to idolize Scarlett, the impetuous youth, but when we went to see the movie together when it was re-released in theaters, mom told me that she had changed her mind: now, she strove to emulate Scarlett’s mother: kind, non-judgmental, generous, graceful.

I, too, tried for years not to become my mother, but I, too, failed. And I am very proud to admit it: that I am, in many ways, just like her.

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Back during those years when I was convinced I could escape becoming my mother, I was following in her footsteps without even realizing it. As one example, I had a long-term relationship with someone that mirrored one from her own youth. Both were destructive. And as hard as it must have been for her, as painful as it must have been to relive it vicariously through me, she never told me what to do or forbid me from seeing that person.

She was the perfect teacher: she offered gentle guidance when asked, but she let me make my own way so that I could learn from my own mistakes. And she was there, waiting to hold me, when it all came crumbling down, as she must have known it would.

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What I would most like to tell you today is that Sallie was not just my mother. Sallie was my best friend.

You see, my parents never treated me like a typical child. From as far back as I can remember, they treated me like a little person with valid opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. There weren’t many “because I told you so” moments in our house: my mom always took the time to explain why things should or shouldn’t be done. This fostered my natural sense of curiosity, helped me learn how to reason through everything, and taught me to believe in my own value.

My mom always told me that I could talk with her about anything. And it was true. I remember one day, when I was young—maybe around 12 or 13?—lying on my parents’ bed, talking to mom while she was trying very hard to continue reading her romance novel. I don’t know if I was deliberately trying to test her, but I was curious to see how far that “anything” really went.

What, I asked her, would happen if I told her I was pregnant? Well, she said very calmly, putting down her book, of course she would still love me, and they would support me, but I’d better never, ever tell my dad who the father was because he’d kill him.

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As my relationship with my mother grew and changed over the years, that was perhaps my favorite thing about it: that I could tell her anything. And, to her credit, she listened. She only offered advice when I asked, and she never thought less of me for anything bad I’ve ever done.

That’s saying a lot.

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Everyone who knows me knows that purple is my favorite color. Some of you might also know that purple was mom’s favorite color. But there is another reason that I chose to wear purple today.

Purple is the color of Easter. Come every spring, purple drapes the alter here as a reminder to Christians that those who believe in Jesus never truly die, but rise again, and have eternal life by the grace of God.

Purple means that we should not spend all our time in mourning. It means we should give thanks for the life of such an amazing woman who has touched so many—who was such a great leader, mentor, mother, wife, and friend—and we should celebrate her return home.

As hard as it is right now to see through the tears of our grief, we should take comfort in the fact that Sallie is not truly gone: she will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those of us who love her.

And most especially in the one who has become just like her.

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