Sunday, May 5, 2013

Family memories

Last week, my family planned Mom's funeral.

She is still alive and receiving Hospice care. It was really uncomfortable to put myself mentally in a future without her. But the conversation we had as a family was healing.

The pastor who agreed to do the memorial service asked each of us to tell him about Mom.

All five kids shared.
  • Mom always had time for us. 
  • She was an advocate for whoever we complained about (sibling, co-worker, friend, or stranger).
  • "Up until the last few years, I haven't made any decisions in life without at least an hour long conversation with Mom."
  • She was very creative, even in how she disciplined, and always firm and fair.
  • Mom made a point of spending time one-on-one with us. 
  • She had our back, even in the years when sibling rivalry pitted us against each other. 
  • "The worst part about being the youngest was that Mom was experienced, and knew all the tricks. I could never lie to her. But she was also exhausted from raising four other kids, so I got away with a lot."
  • She consistently gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.
  • She could always see the positive in any situation. Dad said one time he and Mom were stuck in traffic due to construction and road work. He was in a sour mood and complained about the inconvenience. Mom said, "But look at all these road workers who have jobs! You should be happy for them!"

The pastor asked what her love language was. We answered in unison: "Words of affirmation."

We talked about chore charts, her love letters, instructional post it notes (which she left everywhere as we got older, reminding us to take clean clothes out of the dryer, or put dirty dishes in the dishwasher not the sink), and her love of music.

Keeping memories of Mom in the forefront of our minds made the rest of the meeting so much easier. The focus changed from our reluctance to acknowledge the permanence of death to the many gifts of her life.

It was powerful to hear each other share the things we love most about our mom. That's our goal for the memorial service, whenever it may be: to celebrate her and all the ways she's influenced us.

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