A mother defined. . .

Various pictures of my mother-in-law between 1954 and 1957.

I’m still working on my husband’s heritage album.  There are just so many pictures, it’s hard to decide which ones to use.  Just like it’s hard to decide exactly what to say.  She passed away several years ago and my husband wrote and delivered a beautiful eulogy at her funeral so that’s what I’m going to share here.  It says more about her than I ever could.

Mom was kind, loving, humble, and generous. She never spoke of her accomplishments nor sought recognition for them. She always put family first and chastised me often for working too much and not spending enough time with my family. I regret today that, as usual, I have learned too late, she was right. What I appreciate today is that my values reflect her values. My character is a product of her and my father’s parenting and guidance.

My mother always believed the best about her sons; even when we disappointed her. There are tales of us boys breaking Christmas lights in a Texas neighborhood but Mom would always say, “Not my boys.” 1969 was a particularly difficult year for Mom. Pop was in Vietnam and Mom tried keeping us boys happy by buying us whatever we wanted. We wanted BB guns. She bought them and we shot out a neighbor’s window and shot each other. Still, what I learned from Mom, what she taught us all was; parents never stop loving their children. She encouraged me to excel in whatever I chose to do. Because of her love, I could always take a chance. I knew she would be there if I stumbled. Her generosity extended to her grandchildren too. She loved giving them gifts and usually gave them too many. But she cared so much about a child’s happiness and downplayed our concern about how much money she spent. She was extremely proud of their school grades and their musical abilities. She was always showing their pictures to friends and family who stopped by the house.

To my brothers and me, whenever we wanted something, Mom was an easy mark. We need only ask. I thought it was just a mother’s love. I later learned Mom had an overwhelming love of children and a heartfelt generosity to give. I remember years of watching the Jerry Lewis Telethons and Mom would call and make a donation. She gave to countless charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and St. Jude Childrens Hospital. If someone called and the charity was for needy children, Mom gave . . . even at times when she couldn’t afford to, she always gave. Over the years, she made regular donations to St. Jude Childrens Hospital and if any of you are seeking a charity to support, I know she would ask that you adopt this one.

And Mom’s love of my father is endless. While he seldom speaks of his service to our country, Mom was extremely proud of him and his Air Force record. She enjoyed the travel to other countries and cherished those experiences. I always enjoyed looking at the photo albums with her. She had an incredible memory and sharp mind. She could tell a story about every picture.

My mother was an avid reader and could have started her own library with the volume of books went through. She and I could talk about the two most volatile issues people can discuss: politics and religion. There were times when we would disagree and when that happened, we seldom changed each other’s opinion . . . because Mom was tough and strong-willed. I was just stubborn.

I’ll miss my mother. I’ll miss her telling me that I work too much and asking if I’m taking my vitamins. And checking to make sure I’m taking 81 mg of aspirin a day because I’m over 40, you know. She always concerned herself with my well-being. I’ll miss her telling me I’m too skinny one week and that I have put on weight the next. I’ll just miss her . . . and her love.

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