When I read the family histories of other researchers there is one thing I miss more than any other. Letters! A “Love Letter For Jimmy” was written for my brother by those who cared for him in his final days. It is the only letter from the past I have. I can not change the past but I can look to the future and leave my words. A eulogy for mother is a letter I wrote about the past. It is a letter I leave behind for the future.
My Eulogy For Mother
Today we celebrate the life of a very special woman. A woman, who throughout her life gave unselfishly all that she could where ever she saw a need. As Michelle has said, she was many things to so many people. Most of those people who were an important part of her life are here today. She was “Mum” to me, my sister, Rita and my brother Jimmy. She was Nanny to Wayne, Graeme, Brian, Sharon, Murray,Michelle, Kristine and Allison. She was a Great Nanna to Troy, Rachel, Deborah, Jason, Ahleigh, Logan, Nicholle, Jayden and Jimmy. Then there are those who she gladly took into the family. Les, Diane, Kathleen, Stanley, Roy, Gray, Michelle, Trevor and Graham. This roll call of names is her legacy of love. This unconditional love was her gift to us and, over these last days, that love has sustained us all. There was another gift she gave us. The gift of a determination of spirit that that enabled her to survive and prosper.
I remember a story she told me of how she started her life time of work. She was 11 years old when she decided to help her mother by scrubbing the kitchen floor as a surprise. “It was the silliest thing I’d ever done” she said. “From then on it became my job every Saturday!”
When she was older she used to sit beside her mother and sold rabbits and stuffed hearts from a barrow. Refusing with spirit, to call out and advertise her wares…that she left to her mother! In the “Generation Gap” you can Read More
She met and married my father when she was 20 years old. He was the most handsome man she had ever met. She told me he had lovely legs which I suppose she saw a lot of when they took to the open roads on a tandem bike!
During the war she worked in a factory that made the “baffles” for the petrol tanks that went in the army vehicles. She was very proud of her skills and told me how fast she could work. Not, as you might expect for the work effort, but so she could sneak out to the toilets for a cigarette while everyone else caught up!
Like most women and children during the war, every day was a test of survival skills. For a short while she was evacuated with Rita into the country. Their stay was short. As the ferocity of the blitz lifted she returned to London and the life she was used to.
The loss of our brother Jimmy when he was only 5 years old was a sad and bitter tragedy for out parents. But once again that determined came through. When she was 39 she left behind everything she knew to emigrate to New Zealand to give us a better life. She told me that because New Zealand was such a rich country she believed she wouldn’t have to go out to work. As it turned out Dad got her a job at the Bruce Woolen Mill and so her working life in New Zealand began until her retirement, 26 years later.
Her last employment was as a psychiatric nurse aide in Cherry Farm Hospital. Here she had all the scope she could wish for to use her love and determined spirit. I will share only one of her “stories”. It was Christmas and her job was to get her “old boys” spick and span for their Christmas dinner It seems that certain items of clothing were in short supply so she ducked home to commandeer some of Dad’s ties. I can imagine his look of confusion as he kept meeting up with dozens of patients all proudly wearing his ties! As she explained to Dad he didn’t need that many anyway!
If anyone here thinks that this spirit that filled her love of life was waning I can tell you that she was already planning a solo trip back to England.
This then, is the very much abridged version that is the very heart of the celebration of life that I wanted to share with you. Today, the sharp edges of grief surround us but, as I look around at my family, I know that the gifts this very special person gave us will be there for us to fall back on when the future makes demands on us we feel are just too great. We can use the gift of a determined spirit to get us through. Her gift of love is for us to share with everyone. We are very lucky because she has given us enough love and spirit to last us our life time and beyond.
We are here today to acknowledge and thank her for these wonderful gifts.
Rest peacefully Mum. Your work is complete.
I wrote this eulogy for my mother in 1998. It is not something I ever expected to read again! If you would like to share a similar experience or comment on this please leave a message below.