Friday, February 24, 2017

Do Your Best and God Will Do the Rest

My mom passed away last week after a courageous battle with Alzheimer's. I had the honor and privilege to give the eulogy at her beautiful funeral Mass. In some ways it was the hardest thing I have written and in others ways it was easy to talk about my mom, who she was and what made her so special. I love you mom!

Here is her eulogy:

Do your best and God will do the rest. These words bring me great comfort today, as they guided my mom’s life. As a woman of true faith, she always knew, from an early age until now, that if she did her best, God would do the rest.

My mom had an amazing childhood. Her face always lit up when talking about growing up with her mom and dad, her sister Paulette and her brother, Paul, spending Sundays with her cousins, who were her best friends, and warm sunny days at Spring Lake. That loving home taught her that family and faith is all you need, it is everything.

She was so excited to start a family of her own when she met and fell in love with my dad, Paul, 44 years ago. She did tell him that she always thought she would either be a nun or have 12 children. We know what path she took and God blessed her with 4 beautiful children, and 5 amazing grandchildren of her own, along with some very special nieces and nephews.

She dedicated her life to teaching children. First in her family day care, then at the Kid’s Place, Immaculate Conception and finally at St. Mary’s Academy, where she helped shape the lives of so many more than 12 children. She has loved all of these children. She has wiped many tears, put band-aids on lots of boo-boos, wiped several dirty noses, given countless hugs, pored gallons of milk and doled out lots of crayons. All with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, as she let God work through her.

Again, just do your best and God will do the rest. She raised my siblings, Beth, Stacy, Keith and I around these words. Not only did they calm us, but they empowered us before big tests, dance recitals, football games, first days of kindergarten and first days of high school and college,  job interviews, wedding days, giving birth to children and yes, just average Tuesdays.

She just had a way of knowing what you needed, when you needed it. A warm homemade chocolate chip cookie after school, a hug that let you know it was going to be okay, a phone call at the right moment and those words that mean everything: I am so proud of you. I even remember opening my lunch box as a kid on my birthday to find my sandwich wrapped up like a present and on Halloween there was a piece of candy and a wrapped building block with a note attached that said “trick or treat.”

My mom simply brought out the good in people. With a joyful heart, endless patience, a smile that lit up the room and such an infectious laugh, she let God work through her to bring comfort to those around her, even towards the end. I was with her this past Christmas. She was very confused as the Alzheimer's was taking over, more and more. She asked me who her children were. I looked at her and said, I am one of your daughters. With a great big smile and love in her eyes she said, “You are? Well this is great because you are so nice.” Instead of feeling sad, I realized that she had just given me  a gift. I have never felt so loved as I did in that moment, as I got to experience the raw emotion a mom feels the first time she sees her child.

This is just one of many examples that we have all experienced of how she put those she loved before herself.

I am sure that I don’t have to tell you how happy and excited she was to be a Memere. Emily, Morgan, Brooke, Tyler and Molly, she loves you so much and is so proud of you. Everything about you put a smile on her face!

Over the past few days my dad, Paul, and my siblings Beth, Stacy, Keith and I and our families have been humbled by the outpouring of love we have received. Your memories and kind words about our “Jan,” have made us both laugh and cry. They have also made us thank God for giving us such an amazing wife, mother and Memere.

My mom is now in a better place in heaven with Jesus and she has been reunited with some very special people. She is whole again and her memories are back.

Mom, you have done your best, now it is time for God to do the rest!