doctor_ray (doctorray) wrote,

A Eulogy

This past Saturday, the headmaster at the school where I teach, who is also an Episcopal priest, took several hours out of his very busy schedule to come over to the house to officiate at a very small memorial service for [info]bewcastle 's mother, who as many of you know passed away last month. The fact that my school's headmaster would come over after a morning-long admissions event to tend to the spiritual needs of one of the school's faculty and his wife is, I think, a great comment on why I so much enjoy and cherish the place where I work.

 It was just the two of us (my sister and brother in law being kept away by the detail of being in a maternity ward with their newborn son...), and him.  We chatted amiably about this and that for about an hour, sipping tea and nibbling on ginger snaps, and then when the timing felt right he led us through the traditional service for the dead in the Book of Common Prayer.  In lieu of a sermon, he offered
[info]bewcastle the time to say a few words about her mother.  She demurred initially, protesting that she wasn't really good at those sorts of public speeches.  But she did give some remembrances of her mother, and despite my wife's modest protestations, I found her words beautiful and evocative - a fitting tribute to a fine woman.  I thought her words deserved some more permanent record, and so, with her permission, I submit an admittedly Thucydidean reproduction of her words from memory - any infelicities of prhasing or organiation, or any appearance of a too pat construction are the fault of the transcriber, not the speaker, whose efforts are worthy of great praise. 

Here it is, as best my memory can recall:
 "One of the things I most appreciate about my mother was the fact that she was not only my mother, but also my friend.  We enjoyed a truly adult friendship,from the time she felt it was appropriate - around the time I was sixteen or so. At the time, I didn't remark on it - I thought that was just the way the relationship between mothers and daughters evolved.  But later in life, friends and acquaintances would remark on what a special relationship I enjoyed with her - how we seemed truly to be friends.  Only then did I realize how rare that was.  And having gotten to know other mothers, and seen the care and concern that goes into raising a child, I can imagine how hard that must have been for her, to let go and let me make my own choices and decisions.  She was always there to support me, of course, and offer advice, but she treated me like an adult, and a friend.  She was my mother, and I always respected her for that.  But she was also my friend, and I cherished that friendship.

My mother was someone who taught by example - she never told my sister and me that we had to do certain things, or behave in a certain way, or make certain decisions.  Naturally when we were small children she gave us the guidance that small children need.  But when we had grown older, and it came time to think about colleges and careers and the like, she gave us the freedom to make our own choices.  But we always looked to her for her example, which was more powerful and effective than any instruction.

My mother set a superb example for her daughters.  She overcame a great deal in her life, and she did so without complaint.  She was divorced from my father when  I was in high school  Up until that time, she had been a housewife.  Now she was faced with the task of supporting two daughters.  It must have been a daunting proposition for her.  But she went out out,took classes, got a job, and raised us both all by herself.  She never raised a fuss or gave us the impression that there was some disaster looming. It was what needed to be done, and she did it without any fuss. 

By her example and her willingness to be my friend as well as my mother she had such a tremendous influence on me. She lived on her own terms, and she died on her own terms.  I miss her terribly - both as a mother and a friend - but in the face of having done things just as she wanted them done, I can be sad for my loss, but I can hardly protest.  I can only cherish her memory."

I am sure too much of my own verbal style has crept into the wording above - and I will attest as a witness that I have not done [info]bewcastle own words justice.  This is a pale imitation, intended to give the reader a sense of the ideas expressed, and a few choice phrases, perhaps plucked from fallible memory.  But even so, I think the fine tribute she offered her mother shines through the screen of my fallible memory and phrasing.  And it is a tribute, I think, that deserves to be remembered.



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