My Mother's Eulogy
How do you say goodbye to your mother? She struggled with the disease of alcoholism and overcame it with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. I honor her for that.
My mother was many things.
She was a wife (twice), a daughter, a sister, a grandmother and a great grandmother.
She was also a waitress and a great Avon Lady.
She was a friend.
She was a pack rat. You would know that if you could see her apartment.
She was also my mother. We only get one and for better or worse, she was mine.
Sometimes it was hard to be her daughter. Our relationship wasnt always smooth and often it was downright contentious. But we dont get to choose our parents and so you find a way to forgive and hopefully forget.
I know that she loved me.
I know that she knew I loved her.
I know that she forgave me.
I know that she knew I forgave her.
I am at peace with the knowledge that, in her heart, when she died, she took the love that I gave her into her new life
I know that she is where her heart went all those years ago when my Dad died.
Recriminations and grinding axes dont matter when someone you love is dying. Suddenly all that does matter is holding the hand that held yours so many times and reassuring her, as she did for me, that all would be okay.
My mother didnt have an easy life. Im not sure I could have coped any better being widowed at 38. Im not sure anyone could have. How does one handle losing the love of your life, as she so often referred to my Dad, and then having it all happen again when she took a chance and remarried 10 years later only to have THAT husband die from cancer within one year?
I can tell you, she didnt handle it well.
She turned to alcohol..her nemesis and yet her friend. With sheer grit and determination, a lot of love and support from her family, she stopped drinking and tried to change her life.
She joined Alcoholics Anonymous and found a place where she could get help to overcome the demons she lived with for so many years. She helped others find their own demons. Her AA journal is filled with stories of her "pigeons" and the love and support she gave them and that they returned. Those of you here today, know who you are. Rest easy that she spoke often of many of you.
I know that for her, AA was her salvation, her life support. I didnt always understand it, but I was proud of her and her commitment. When she died, she had been sober for more than 30 years.
I believe that we all have a tally card in heaven. You get plusses for being good and minuses for being bad. I think thats my Catholic education coming thru!
Did Emma Jo have more plusses or minuses? Who can say? All that I know is this: the tally card that I keep in my heart says I choose to believe she had more plusses.
Its easy to remember the bad things...the things that hurt so much. We all know that there were times when the disease of alcoholism made her hard to be around. But Im choosing to remember the good. And oh! There was a lot of good.
She taught me to cook and since she was a great cook, I must be one too.
She taught me the difference between a pansy and a petunia and she made sure I knew how to iron a shirt the proper way and how to scrub a tub and keep a clean house.
Oh hot, humid Cincinnati nights when I was little, She would make a pallet for me to sleep on, under the stars, on our front porch. I have such vivid memories of that.
One of my Grandfather Raymond's favorite comments about her was "that woman, she sure can cook and you can eat off her floor". My grandfather was old country and wasnt keen on any of his sons marrying "american" women. But he grudgingly came to respect his daughter in law who had married his baby son. Because she took nothing from no one and stood up for what she felt was right. In those days women were better off seen and not heard, but not my Mom. Grandpa respected that, I believe, even if he never showed it and the yardstick for which he measured a good wife was by her ability to cook a decent meal and keep a clean house. She passed with flying colors.
She loved my Dad and oh how he loved her! For me, not much else matters more than that.
She had a great singing voice and I like to think that I inherited my ability to carry a tune from her.
She was there for nieces and nephews, on both sides of our family, when they needed love and support for whatever they might be going thru. They could count on Aunt Emma Jo.
All of you know who you are and if you have any doubts about her love for you, I am here to tell you that she loved all of you very much.
To my children: Shannon, Scott, Patrick and Katie..Nana loved each of you more than you know. I got a pretty big lump in my throat while going thru her things in her apartment the other day for everywhere I looked, there were framed pictures of all you.
Thank you, Kathleen, my daughter in law, for giving her Josh and Jake, those 2 beautiful great grandchildren. In them, she saw a new generation of our family beginning and I know she took pride in that.
To Mike, my husband, her son in law, but in so many ways, more a son. She loved you, sometimes, I thought, more than she loved me! She thought the sun rose and set in you and from the day I married you, she told me how lucky I was to have found you.
She said and did things I know she regretted. She suffered in this life with a disease that sometimes changed her personality and ultimately claimed her life.
And so I wish to say this to all of you who knew and loved her..I hope you can remember the good times. I hope you can remember that there was good in her, for there was good. I hope all of you can remember the happy times and try to not dwell on the person she became when the demon alcohol took over.
Finally..to my Mom: I am glad that you are free from the shackles that kept you from being truly and completely happy in this life.
I hope that you find peace and contentment in your new life.
I hope that you and Dad walk hand in hand and finally get to enjoy the life that both of you started all those many years ago before he was taken so abruptly away from you.
And finally....I hope that you know how very proud I am to call you "Mom".
Rest in peace "Essie Go".
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."