Monday, July 18, 2005
This is the eulogy I read at my mother’s funeral.
I would like to thank you all for the love and support that you have shown my Mom, my family, my family to be, and me through all of this. I was reading some of the cards that Mom received over the last year. They were kept in a shoebox under her bed. I thought it might be nice if I picked out a few of the thoughts that were sent to her and shared them with you all today. When I had picked out five or six cards, I set down the shoebox. It was then that I saw the two shopping bags full of the rest of them. I decided to take a quick break before I charged in to the sea of greeting cards. I walked into the dining room, and there they were – four more piles. I gave up on that idea.
I didn’t really know where to begin this. I’m not really sure what I intended to say. Virginia Wilks was my Mom. She was Ginny Lee to her brothers and Mother, Ginny to her friends in the choir, Aunt Ginny to the choir kids, Gin to her friends at work. She is John’s true love, and my Mom.
Whatever name you would choose to remember her by, I’d like to talk about my Mom. Last September, I got a phone call two days after my 25th birthday. Both of my parents were on the phone. I somehow already knew what they were going to say. Mom had a tumor at the base of her brain.
I have spent the last ten month surrounded by such love, from friends and family both, that her sickness seemed somewhat unreal. We always seemed to know she would beat it. There was simply no way that someone who was as kind and good and tenacious and full of life could not conquer cancer.
I have spent the last five days reeling at times, crying at others. I have tried to understand why this happened, but I only end up in tears, because I cannot. Being an engineer who seeks to understand everything, I fear that I will forever be haunted by that fact.
I have tried to find comfort in the Lord these last few months, trying to feel some semblance of the strength and comfort that my Mom’s faith gave to her during her sickness. But as my fiancée Leah can attest, I have found in Him little solace.
Again, I simply cannot understand. I ask questions and get no responses. Why her? Why so much pain and suffering? Surely she did not deserve to die. Surely she did not have to endure such trials. Perhaps that is why Mom’s faith was so undeniable. Through all of her suffering, she never asked why.
Last Saturday while our family gathered together, my uncle looked at me and said through his tears, “It’s not supposed to happen this way. It’s supposed to be me.” It’s not supposed to be anyone. That is the hardest thing to realize, because if I could, I would take her place. Except I know that her heart would be broken if I did.
So instead, I choose to embrace my Mom, as should everyone who has come here. This should be your testament to her. Embrace her for her unforgettable smile, about which so many people have commented to me already. Embrace her for her infectious laugh. Embrace her for her acts of kindness and charity. Embrace her for her incredible strength and for her unending dignity. Most of all, embrace her for whatever memory of her gives you a warm feeling in your heart.
These are my reasons. My Mom taught me to count by playing cards with me. My Mom read me bedtime stories by H.G. Wells, not Barney. My Mom taught me how to play baseball. My Mom married that man, and with his two sons, made our family. My Mom brought a cushion and a cowbell and with Mrs. Sutman, came to every single one of my high school football games. My Mom heard me sing. My Mom sang to me.
For the first ten years of my life, every night as she tucked me in to bed, my Mom would sing to me. Over the past few weeks, those songs have some flowing back into the forefront of my memory. Songs like Give My Regards to Broadway, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Loch Lomond, and a host of others whose titles I am not sure of.
I can hear her sing to me still. I hear them when my over-inquisitive mind begins to ponder the reasons why she was taken from me by a disease I could not even see. On the night she died, I sang them to her.
I can only hope they comforted her as they did me when I was a child – and as they do now. They will comfort my children when I sing to them. That is how I embrace my Mother. That is how I honor my Mother.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.