Eulogy from Dan, Steve, Nancy, and Mark

A couple of nights ago Steve, Nancy, Mark and I sat down and tried to find the right words to remember Mom. We shared stories, remembering her as Mother, Grandmother, Wife, confidant and friend.

We looked at the comments from other family members and friends posted on Mom's web site.

There were two constant threads in almost everything we talked about and read - wherever Mom went, there was laughter and there was love.
You cannot remember our mom without talking about her sense of humor.

We heard stories from our uncle and aunts about her practical jokes.

There was the time she and her sisters were staying at Merle and Millie's house on Plum Island. One of her sisters was deathly afraid of bats, so my mother went out and bought a rubber bat. She tied it to the line of fishing pole, hung out of the second floor window and made it bang into the window where her sister was sitting. Her sister screamed and ran into another room only to find the bat soon banging on the window in that room. That bat chased her around and around the house until my mother was discovered.

Then there was the time Mom hung a huge sea worm of the pull string of Lucy's bathroom light and when Lucy pulled the string and screamed it fell down the front of her blouse.

From an early age we children were both the beneficiaries and the butt of her jokes.

When we lived on Paquin Road in Barrington, RI, one of our nightly chores was to burn the rubbish in an incinerator at the furthest, darkest corner of the yard. Mom used to love jumping out from behind a tree and scaring us half to death.

One time she had us convinced that pearls could be found in clams and put a candy pearl in Steve's chowder. He was heart broken when it melted on his spoon.

She gave everyone a nick name - Steve is Teton, Dad is Flubbydub, Nancy is Penelope Brattella and Mark is Teddy Bear. He husbands name is Feetlips and Kamm, her grandson, is called Bumbalino - which no one else in the world can call him, no one but grammie. But what comes around goes around. She would roar every time our cousin Janice caller her Auntie Boobies.

Practical jokes were only one small manifestation of her sense of humor. She had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of timing and delivery. And she loved it when the laugh was on her.

For a short time she drove an aging canary yellow Cadillac convertible she called Josephine the flying machine. We were adolescents at the time and would hunch down in the back seat so none of our friends would see us as she drove thru town with the top down waving to strangers.

She was fun, always fun.

And you cannot remember our mother without talking about love. She had an incredible ability to love.

Her love and dedication to her children was unconditional, unwavering, and lord knows we gave her good reason to waver.

When we were very young and mom and dad did not have a lot of money, mom didn't want us going without Easter suits, so she made them for us. We had long admired this wonderful picture of us decked out in these very natty suits with matching hats and only learned recently that she had made them.

She was the Cub Scout den mother, the brownie and the Girl Scout leader. She was the biggest fan of all our sports teams. She never missed a baseball game, a softball game and she missed only one wrestling meet. She was hospitalized at the time. She would throw a dinner party for the entire wrestling team at the end of each season and would make her famous Cherries Jubilee. The team would start talking about that Jubilee after the second meet.

But it was not all that she did for us that was most special, it was the way she made us feel. She made us feel that no matter how we screwed up, no matter how scared or lonely we were, there was a safe place in her heart where we were loved and always would be.

And she showed us how to love others. She showed us how to love our families by the way she loved our father and us - how she loved our children and their children. She showed us how to love our friends by the way she loved hers. And if sometimes, during difficult times any of us forgot, she reminded us.

One of the things that showed us just how special she was the way she loved our friends growing up. For years during the summers in Barrington, we would wake up in the morning to find one or more of our friends seated at the kitchen table with my mother. She would be drinking cup after cup of coffee, chain smoking Luckies and dispensing wisdom, consolation, encouragement and love. As often as not, they had come to see her and not us. I remember her telling me that one day she found our friend David Mooney sitting at that table when she woke up. He had been there since before dawn. He told her that his father had died that night. She hugged him for a long time and then he ran away. It seemed that the more troubled our friends were, the more often they appeared at that table and the longer they stayed.

When Mom and Dad and Mark moved to Ohio, they got a new kitchen table, and damn if Mark's friends didn't find seats at that table.

I once read that the measure of a person is not how much you love but how much you are loved. Well, our mother was a giant. All five foot two of her.

Mom and Dad lived in a lot of places. Needham, Barrington, Ohio, Cap Cod, North Kingstown and Royal Wood. She was involved in the community in each of these places. In Barrington, in addition to the activities related to us children, she was involved in the Barrington Players and the Women’s Junior Chamber of Commerce. In Ohio, long after Nancy was grown, she coached girl’s softball and basketball. At Royal Wood, she was involved in the theater group and the women’s golf league.

In each place they lived, and through each of these diverse activities, Mom made close, close friends that she kept for the rest of her life. After we were grown and we would visit, time and time again, complete strangers would approach us and tell us how much they loved her. At a gathering of friends in Florida on Monday, someone commented that she had been a big part of their community and the person next to her said "Heck, she almost was the community."

And no one could have loved her more than our father did.

For 54 years she was his Sweety, his everything.

When they were first married they lived in a tiny apartment in Lowell, while he attended Lowell Tech. When he graduated, he had to travel on business constantly and by then she was juggling three kids under the age of four. How he admired and cherished her for how she coped. Steve, Nancy and I remember once when, upon returning from a trip, he learned we had been particularly obnoxious, he told us we had better shape up or there would be hell to pay, because we were just his children and she was his wife. That made an impression.

As Dad’s career progressed and things got a little easier, they shared so much joy. Summer vacations at the Cape, the community in Barrington, daily tribulations of their young children’s lives.

When Dad had an opportunity for a promotion that required moving to Ohio, she did not hesitate to support him. He always knew that she really did not want to move to Ohio, but she did it for him. And together they build a new and wonderful life there.

He had promised her that they would return to Rhode Island. And as soon as his job allowed, they did. They spent a lovely decade playing golf at the Quinesset Country Club in North Kingstown Rhode Island and summering at their home in Harwich.

Twelve years ago they moved to Naples, Florida. They became part of a terrific community in Royal Wood. A group that played and joked, maybe drank a few cocktails and loved life. Without the challenges of Dad’s career, they shared each other. They went on cruises, golf vacations, holidays in the Islands, trips around the country.

And then Mom got sick. During the last few years, she was in so much pain. She fought it. She never let it keep her from her duties with the Women’s Golf League, from her mahjong games, from the cruises or the theatre nights. In fact when she fell and broke her hip in October, she was acting as a marshal at a golf fund raiser for one of her charities. But oh how she suffered.

In the last years, when Mom was so sick, our father's devotion to her never faltered. He, without a moments hesitation, let go of so many of the things he had previously enjoyed so that he could take care of her. His gave up his golf, his exercise routine, his time with his men friends. He was always at her side, providing what she needed, planning for what she might need next. His friends in Royal Wood marvel at the selfless dedication he showed her for so long. They have seen many men care for their ailing wives, but never as Dad did.

For 54 years, she was his Sweety. His everything.

Those who knew her, even casually, understand why she was so well loved.

She has an innate, uncompromising sense of right and wrong, of fair play. If you were right, she supported you without regard to consequence. If you were wrong, she told you so - no holds barred - but without recrimination or judgment.

If you were in her heart, you were there forever - unconditionally. If you needed, she would give. If you hurt, she would heal. If you were lost, she would show you the way. And if you were scared, she would protect you. There have been times when each of her children and her grandchildren made poor decisions and let the family down. We might judge each other and turn away. But not Mom. She would let you know her opinion, but she would never withdraw. If everyone else in your world was angry, you could always find love and comfort from Mom.

She has this warmth, this incredible warmth. If you were hurt, or lost, if you were scared, she would wrap her arms around you and hold you to that ample bosom, and almost magically, you would feel a whole lot better. Maybe your problems didn’t go away, but you felt a whole lot better.

So much laughter and so much love in such a little person.

Mom, we will all miss your laughter and we will miss your love. There is forever an empty space in our hearts that will never be filled. But we, your family and your friends, know that we are richer because you shared your laughter and your love with us.

There is a poem that dad saw once and that he sought out the other day because it describes some of what he feels about Mom’s dying. He wants to share it with you.

God saw you were getting tired,
and a cure was not to be. So He
put his arms around you
and whispered, “Come with me.”

In tears we watched you suffer
and saw you fade away.
Although we loved you dearly
we could not make you stay.

A heart of gold stopped breathing and
hard-working hands now rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.