For my Mom's memorial service, my brother, Dad and I each wrote a eulogy. I didn't think I would be able to read mine without breaking down, so I asked a dear friend to read it on my behalf. But when my time to speak came, I felt that it was what I had to do. I knew that mom would be proud and it would show her the strong person I was because of the life skills she'd taught me. Below is what I wrote.
"I have noticed a common word running through nearly every message of condolence about my mother. That word is kindness.
Almost to a fault, my Mom put the needs of others ahead of her own. If you look up the word “selfless” in the dictionary, I would not be surprised if there was a picture of my mom next to it. Most likely in that picture, she would be smiling at a homeless dog, who would be licking her face.
Anyone who knew Mom, knew of her devotion to animals. She spent over 30 years as an active member, and often president, of the Hendricks County Humane Society. Hardly a weekend went by that she wasn’t transporting animals to an adoption day, or educating the public about kindness to animals. I cannot even fathom the number of homeless animals for which she helped to find homes. As we all know, quite a few of those animals found a lifelong loving home with her, becoming members of our family, often to the chagrin of my Dad.
I believe the following story epitomizes my Mom’s selfless nature. In her job, mom was working with people dealing with mental health issues. One of her clients was a woman with a very old and cantankerous one-eyed cat named Cracker. This woman didn’t have many friends or any family to speak of, and Cracker was her best friend. At one point, the woman was having some problems, which resulted in her being removed from her home. Mom was very concerned for her and of course, Cracker. Mom went and searched for Cracker and brought him home with her. Because this woman did not have family to act as her legal guardian, she was going to be transferred to another county’s mental health system, where she would have to leave everyone and every thing she ever knew. My Mom could not bear to see that happen. Despite being advised against it, my Mom petitioned the court to become this woman’s legal guardian. This allowed the woman to be able to be placed in the County Home where she wanted to live. Animals were not allowed so Mom lovingly kept Cracker, giving the woman photos and updates on him until the day he died.
My mother dedicated herself to so many worthwhile causes. She worked with organizations too numerous to mention. She fought for Peace all her life and was involved in the fight to curb nuclear weapon proliferation. My brother and I have fond memories of walking in peace marches and nuclear freeze walks as a kid. “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Nuclear weapons have got to go!”
Mom was a La Leche League leader, helping breastfeeding moms for close to 20 years. She made many lifelong friends in that group, many of whom are in this room. My brother and I have traumatizing memories of the days that the La Leche League helpline was routed to our house and we would mistakenly answer the telephone, only to hear a tearful mother talking about her cracked and bleeding nipples.
y mom acted as the leader of my Girl Scout Troop for many years and impacted the lives of so many young women in that capacity. She always loved bettering the lives of young women, beginning when she worked in state correctional facility for girls shortly after college, a job she really enjoyed. Mom was a feminist through and through, even buying me a t-shirt as a child that said, “Women belong in the house… and the senate”.
I don’t think anyone benefitted from my mom’s selflessness more than my brother and I. She gave up her career to stay home with the 2 of us and provide us the most fun and amazing childhood I can ever imagine. We spent our days milking goats, making maple syrup, growing Christmas trees, keeping honeybees and riding horses. My mom and dad were willing to sacrifice financially for mom to be able to stay home and educate us from birth through high school. Mom made every activity into an educational experience and was the best teacher. We took amazing field trips, were involved with lots of home school groups and spent lots of time volunteering. Every year, mom would ask us if we would rather go to public school, and every year, we would turn the offer down. We didn’t believe any other educator could teach us as much. Mom was so proud when we both went to college. Zack even went on to get a Master’s degree. She even made a t-shirt with our college graduation pictures and the words “Proud of my HOMESCHOOLED Ball State summa cum laude graduates”, which she wore with pride (and much to the embarrassment of us, of course).
It is so hard to sum up the life of such an amazing person. One thing I know is that despite her relatively short time on earth, she managed to make the world a better place, which was her goal in life. My Mom did not believe in an afterlife. She believed in making the most of every second you have and being the most moral and compassionate person you can be. Her actions were contagious and her spirit of volunteerism will live on, inspiring us all to continue her work for humanity.
Now that you’ve all been inspired to volunteer for a worthy organization, don’t forget to pack a peanut butter, lettuce, and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch in honor of my mom. It was her favorite."