Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (2)
Mar 08, 2020
Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (2)
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
- Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, and the funeral was March 4, 2020. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the space in my life.
How does one talk about the hole that has appeared after 60 years of being together. I find myself without words at this time (March 7) and will resort for the next two weeks to the eulogies delivered by my daughter Barbara and son Dan at the funeral to give a brief insight into the person I was joined with from my first meeting, February 22, 1960. Yes, 60 years to the day she went home to God, and I will join her when God decides it is time.
A wife, a sister, a mother (of 4 girls 2 boys and a Dan as she would affectionally say) a grandmother, an aunt, mentor and a Friend are all descriptions that are mentioned describing my mother.
- Determined – My mother was driven by sense love, determination and adventure throughout her life. She always thought of others first and found such interesting way to entertain people.
I’d like to run through some thoughts I have when I think of my mother.
My sister mentioned camping in Canada; we would go camping there for a week each summer. My dad would go gem hunting with his hammers and chisels, my mom would take us to the lake and go swimming. We would have camp fires and learn new camp fire songs. I always remember the meals my mom would make over the fire…. And the introduction to Hamburger Helper… What a delicious combination, I couldn’t believe my mother had invented such a wonderful meal. When my mother got married she taught herself how to cook, and she was an amazing cook. She has some legendary family meals such as Tuna Noodle Casserole and Aunt Eileen Green Beans. Though her specialty was really baking and her flaky pie crusts…. Really is amazing growth after hearing her tell me about watching her mom who would light the oven by turning on the gas and throwing matches into the Oven.
At our house we had a nice size pond, where now multiple generations have come and enjoyed their time swimming. When a large tree had fallen over the water, she had my dad trim the tree so that we could use it as a spring board. But no one has really enjoyed the power of the pond if they weren’t terrorized by my mom within the water. She would do this slow, silent swim on her back … just her eyes staring at you and her toes pointing at you …it was like an alligator coming to get you in slow motion and yet she always seemed to be getting closer and closer. She told me later that she let the pure panic set in of her victims as we wasted energy flailing around. Those that have experienced this fear… know what I mean.
When she was around 55 years old, she left St Patrick’s in Whitney Point and went to school at Lemoyne for her Masters certificate of Theology. Despite not being in school for over 35 years, she started this 4 year process of writing papers and taking tests. After completing this she joined the St Margaret’s. The friendships with the leadership team of Father Dan, Sister Malice, Lana, and Donna. Along with the entire parish community opened a wonderful new door to new lifelong friends. They have sincerely been touched by the welcoming nature of everyone they’ve encountered here. It really is a special place in her heart.
Always up for an adventure, she went on weekend long bike rides or white water rafting with the youth groups. She went on vacations with members of the Parrish to Alaska, Hawaii and more. She loved horses as she was on an equestrian team as a kid, would ride the horses at Mohonk and we later had a horse of our own. The last few years she would also ride a 1/4 horse through some friends down the road. And everyone knew the party really started when my mom got up and danced at the family weddings or functions. She created these family reunion environments that were always the favorite time of everyone’s summer.
As much as an adventurer that she was, she was the family disciplinarian. I think everyone either loved her or feared her, as he punishments were quick and without bias. I think I spent ½ of my high school life grounded. I one time asked her why she is always so strict and she told me that when she appears before God, and are asked about her life, she had to know in her heart that she did everything in her power to raise her me right and if she did not enforce these rules she couldn’t do it sincerely to god. I really couldn’t argue with that.
In 2009, I fainted and had a skull fracture and some other injuries and wasn’t doing well. I moved back home and lived with my parents for almost a year and really bonded with them as an adult who just happened to be their child. What a wonderful gift that has proven to be for the three of us. I saw the truth of her generosity, love. Every day watching dad come home from work and hunt her down to give her a kiss hello, gave a closure to their day and enjoy their time together. They made me understand what love and sacrifice is between two people.
My mother’s commitment to family, god and community cannot be summed up in a few minutes, as her essence of life are these things and what brought us here today.
A wife, a sister, a mother (of 4 girls 2 boys and a Dan as she would affectionally say), a Grandmother, an Aunt, a mentor and a Friend, are all descriptions that describe my mother.
She was my best friend.
Gentle lover, You gently took my beloved Eileen home into Your Heart. No thoughts can describe her life and value to me. She was my heart and soul; You spoke through her to me almost daily throughout our 60 years together. There is nothing I can add. You have challenged me in a new a difficult way through the natural order of life. I will listen carefully to Your voice as it sounds in new and different tones, and I will try to hear the new voices that speak to me.