Eulogy for Mom

I never had any opportunity to give a eulogy for my mom at her funeral.  It was in no way possible.  If I had I might have written something like this:

Mom was a simple southern cook.  She didn’t have a huge repertoire, but what she cooked was always good with few exceptions .  Swiss steak, tasty and tender was a favorite Sunday dinner.  I never could come close to her fried chicken, or chicken fried steak.  Chicken chow mein with lots of fresh vegetables and meat saute’d quickly just as the Chinese cook taught her in Muscatine.  Mouthwatering  pot roast, ham and beans and cornbread.   Lasagna became a standard for her as she aged.  Tuna salad in restaurants is always like a tuna pate’, very boring.  But mom’s had plenty of onion and dill pickle with lots of hard boiled eggs.  I make it that way to this day.  Her holiday dressing was very sagey, with lots of mushrooms, onions, celery and again hard boiled eggs.  Instead of using only breadcrumbs she also used cornbread and rice in it.  And her chicken and dumplings were the best.  Mine never measured up.  As Robin pointed out I probably over-worked them and  Mom warned me against this when she taught me.  She and I agreed that only Helen’s measured up to hers.  Her lemon meringue pie was unbeatable.  Fruitcake is such a joke with so many and for good reason.  But mom’s was wonderful.  She had quite a ritual involved in making them each year.  And her cookies were to die for.  She seldom baked them, but she had flawless timing.  Chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies came out of the oven barely done.  They were chewy and soft, and melted in your mouth.  Closing my eyes I can smell and taste them even now!  (She did teach me somethings about cooking dispite what dad claimed.)

We got our love of growing things from mom.  That’s the one thing  we four all shared. She was an avid rose grower and her rose beds stopped traffic more than once.  She was quite the vegetable gardener too.  We always had fresh tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, peppers, asparagus, potatoes.  And she worked tirelessly to freeze and can the surplus…………

But The spider must surely remember when I told her that I couldn’t imagine what I would be able to write as a eulogy for mom.  I sure remember well.  It was soon after dad died.  Helen (didn’t know what a spider she was then) and I were talking about mom.  For the first time I actually wondered about what I’d say–I kept coming up blank.  Not because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her.

I could have continued on and on–why I didn’t even get into the part about her being such a good bowler and very popular on bowling teams.  Just ask Dad, he sneaked around peering in half opened doors at the bowling alleys to find out just what the hell she was up to.  Just between you and me,  he never did catch her with any man outside the bowling alley, and if she had been with one, he’d have caught her.  Trust me on that one.  And it would have been bad.  Reminds me of the fight he had once with a Cajan.  Then I could have gone all into how much love she had for her siblings and her dog, Muffin.  That could have been special, spider.

But that wasn’t good enough for me!  No I would have to say something special and relevant or I couldn’t say anything.  Ironic as hell.  What I wanted was to be able to speak about what she meant to me.  And well that’s difficult.  She was a very complex woman with limited means.   She would never have won a Mother of the Year Award from any one of the three of us, despite what The spider might have you believe.   footnote  [ I say that in response to such actions as this for example:  The spider is holding mom by the hands while saying “Mom, you know I’m the only one that loves you.  The others (that would be the actress and the tattle-tale) don’t care about you.  That’s why they left you and moved away as soon as they could.”]  But how do you write a eulogy for a mom like ours?

The truth of the matter is that mom had her hands full just trying to be herself without having to deal with kids. She was very, very needy.  And she was a martyr.  And she much preferred to manipulate people to do for her.  She was that way long before she got any dementia, long before her first stroke.  And she could be so very warm, incredibly warm, like making you feel so special when she wanted to encourage you to take care of her.  But her manipulations weren’t intended to cause harm to others, to take advantage of others, or for material gain.  Her manipulations were get attention and love.   I spent a lot of time with my mom as a teenager.  That always gave Helen such a laugh.  She said I was weird that I’d rather go to a movie with mom than go out with friends or on a date.

Where in the hell was I going to get a date, even if I had wanted one?  I’d rather spend my time alone with my horses or piano or the dance studio.  I felt safer alone.  Especially alone with an animal.  But see I felt safe with mom.  I liked the feel of her hugging me and kissing me and holding my hand.  I didn’t go to all of those movies, all of those trips, all of those fishing trips to Crab Orchard, all of those evening swims, all of those trips to the pool and the spa and the bowling alley because I had nothing else to do, or because I was plotting to steal all of her love and affection for myself.  I had all of the love I needed from her.  And we felt the same about each other.  We loved each other.   And we trusted each other.  And we confided in each other.

And apparently you hated all of that.   You had to kill that.  And kill it you did.  But you know, now after seeing it that way I actually feel sorry for you and that is something that I haven’t felt for you in a long time.  You pathetic creature.

Residing in my south window is her aloe vera plant.  It’s never been more beautiful with its stiffly arched succulent leaves lifting skyward.  The sap it contains is a sticky gel used for soothing burns.  Perhaps I shall smear that aloe gel all over my body and sit naked in the coolness under the old oak trees, breathing in the heady perfume of the nearby honeysuckle blossoms and remember the days when my mom was young and full of her sex.  my diary 2006

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