Mom had heart disease for the last 25 years of her life. Most of those years were productive, active and fun-filled. As she approached the last 5 years of her life, she began writing notes to us children and began drafting a letter that she wanted read at her memorial service.
My mother was a great lover of art-paintings and sculptures-and had a modest collection that she adored. During the last year of her life she decided to make a home video to communicate where her artwork had come from and what each piece meant to her. She dressed up in an elegant gown and walked from piece to piece (much like a docent) describing the history and meaning of the art. As you can imagine, this is a priceless remembrance of her. She completed this video just six months before she died.
Here is the letter addressed to us children; the envelope reads “instructions for you children after I’m gone, signed Mission Control (the nickname given to her by us kids).
Here we are up on the hill [note: her cemetery plot was on a hill]. I hope it’s a beautiful day. It’s easier when the sun shines.
I’ve lived a wonderful and full life. You children have given us only joy and happiness. I am so proud of each and every one of you-children, grandchildren and spouses. Keep in close touch with each other always.
I have no last words of wisdom, I guess when you were young I said all I had to say*. Bring up your children wisely with love, discipline and tight reins.
Take good care of my wonderful guardian angel (my dad).
*I can just hear you say “no mom, you’ve been giving advice all your life.” Well, that’s being a mother.
Here is the letter for the memorial service.
Dear friends and relatives:
Thank you so much for coming. I wanted to say a few words to you all; not as a good-bye, but as a reminder of the many happy times we have known as friends and family.
I’m no great inventor-rather I’m to be remembered as “Mother America,” “Mission Control,” “Mom,” and “Grammy.”
My greatest achievement and my greatest satisfaction has been in raising a happy, united family. My mother was a kindergarten teacher. She imbued me with my great love of children. I inherited that love and I hope that I passed it down to the generations that will follow me. The family became my career.
The children have been a source of great pride and joy. First their spouses came, wonderful people of achievement and love, who have brought so much to our family. Then there were the grandchildren, all of them so special in their own way.
All of you–children, spouses and grandchildren–have given me everything I ever wanted in life. I ask for nothing more than the many happy years we have had, the good and the not so good, the joy and the pain. It has been such a rich life as a result. Some women find satisfaction in a career outside the home. I have been fortunate. I wanted to devote my life to my children and I had rich reward.
There are so many to thank for this life of mine, and you will forgive me if I mention so few by name. Marilyn, my (much) younger sister, your arrival was my first experience of being “in charge”! And I treasure that experience and that period of our lives. If we never saw as much of each other as we wanted, we still knew we could rely on a sister.
Dr. R, thank you for keeping me alive. Without your patience, advice and support I would not have gotten as far as I did. You were a friend and I’m so grateful to you for helping me live the twilight years that meant so much to me and my family.
Finally, d. Darling you must have felt like my slave towards the end, but you were always my loving guardian angel and companion. Fifty-one years of marriage and 8 more before that. Those years made us one person. At the end of the day, d, we were always able to bring out the best in each other. Our entertainment was simple, the home, the children, the dog-but our joy was enormous. Even in the last stressful days we never lost that. I consider our life together such an achievement. Let us remember it that way.
So, to everyone here today, my thanks and love.
Now as I pass into this new phase of my life, I welcome it with joy and wonderment.