Torts & Tots

Motherhood. Lawyer-dom. And maybe a few nice recipes.

A Different Kind of 2014.

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As 2013 comes to a close, my family is starting a scary new chapter of our lives – a chapter without my mom.  My mom passed away on December 18, 2013.  Below is the eulogy I gave at her funeral.  I love you, mom.

Today, I really just want to talk about one aspect of my mom.  To me there is a single word that encapsulates and explains my mom – vibrance.

My mom is outwardly vibrant, most always eschewing black and grey for fuchsia and emerald. In the last three days of her radiation treatment, she wore a different pair of boots each day – gold sequin boots, purple sequin boots, and zebra pattern boots. You might be concerned that my mom has not one, but two pairs of sequin boots.  I, however, am surprised that she only has two pairs, considering that a few weeks ago she said to me with utter sincerity, “it is surprising how often I need sequins.”

My mom’s vibrance is also evident in her artwork. My mom has gone through many different artistic phases in her life. Just as Monet had his blue period, my mom had a clearly defined glitter period and gold leaf period. The glitter period had numerous sub-parts, including the gold paint-beads-glitter period and the beads-mini-Christmas tree-glitter period. The glitter period gave birth to a treasured and beloved phenomenon. The glitter period marked the appearance of a single, ubiquitous piece of glitter located on my mom’s nose.  The gold leaf period was also particularly prolific, producing gold leaf Easter eggs, picture frames, and boxes. The gold leaf period also produced some household anxiety, causing my dad to comment that he was afraid to sit still for too long because my mother might gold leaf him.

It may seem strange that, in describing my mom’s vibrance, I start with her clothing and artwork. However, to me, those things are so indicative of her personality that she is those things to me. To me, mom is fuchsia, my mom is emerald. My mom put glitter and gold lead on everything because she would prefer to exist in a bejeweled and gilded world.

But the greatest indicator of my mom’s vibrance is the passionate way she loved her family.  I’ve always found the description of love contained in I Corinthians to be daunting: “Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.  Love does not demand its own way . . . If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him and always stand your ground in defending him.”  When I read these words, I feel flooded with my own shortcomings.  And yet, this is how I feel my mother loves me.  Constantly elevating me above herself, being loved by my mother is like being bathed in golden light.  She has always been the hand on my back.

When I was a little girl, probably not much older than my own five-year-old daughter, I remember being in the pool with my mom as she taught me how to swim. She stood in front of me, not touching or physically supporting me, slowly backing up as I swam towards her. At the time, I felt frustration, as she was always just beyond the reach of my outstretched hand. But as I reflect upon it now, I realize she was supporting me in the exact way in which I needed and in the exact way she has throughout my life – walking with me without propping me up, propelling me forward without carrying me.

Many people spend their lives fixated upon finding true love, but I have had it my entire life. My mother channels the vibrance of her spirit into loving me, into putting the needs of another human above her own.

In the past month, I have been called upon to commit an act of true love. The act I am talking about is letting my mom go.  It’s pushing aside my fear of how to proceed when she’s not walking in front of me in the pool.  It’s finding a way to rejoice through sadness.  In its simplest form, it’s choosing to smile instead of cry.

To help me in this task, I have reached into my memory bank.  We all store our memories in different places and many of mine are right here in these church walls.  Over the past few weeks, I have gone back to a Christmas Eve service from my childhood.  The sanctuary lights were dim but for the lights from the altar cross and the Christmas tree, and in hushed voices, the choir sang “Still, Still, Still.”  In that moment, I felt peace, and I have relived that instant over and over to remind myself how I want my mom to feel.  “Still, still, still, one can hear the falling snow, for all is hushed , the world is sleeping . . . Dream, dream, dream of the joyous days to come. While guardian angels without number, watch you as you sweetly slumber.”

So today I rejoice.  I rejoice because today my mom is fuchsia. today my mom is emerald. I rejoice because her heavenly Father has welcomed her, opened his arms, and said “Welcome Jo. We have been saving this piece of glitter for your nose.”  And now she is whole.

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Written by tortsandtots

December 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. My heart is broken for you my friend. When I lost my dad I remember telling Dave that I’d lost my biggest fan. It was awful. But it got easier. Little by little it really did. Hang in there.

    Rita

    December 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm


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