I made it through the wake last night but I’m not sure how. I stood for over two hours, greeting people who had come to honor my mother and offer condolences to our family. I still have pain in my back, neck and shoulders, but through the Grace of God (or maybe my mother’s insistence to Him), my headache has abated. (I’m sure it had nothing to do with all the pain meds I’ve been taking.) Good thing the headache was gone.
The “wake” was scheduled for 7-9 PM. People started arriving shortly before 7. Before 7:30, there was a line snaking through various rooms to the outer door. I can’t tell you how many people came – I’m not sure I can count that high. But it was obvious that we were all loved – above all my mother, who touched so many people’s lives. The line continued unbroken until nearly 9 PM.
My mom drove me crazy sometimes. She always thought she knew what was right for you, when often it was the thing that was right for her. She needed to be in control, a need that stemmed from becoming a widow with two daughters at age 30. It was understandable but that didn’t make it easier to live with.
We disagreed on many things, but I always knew she was saying or doing whatever it was with the best of intentions. She was acting out of love.
My mother was somewhat eclectic, too. She had a thirst for knowledge and her home is filled with books. She was Roman Catholic but did not limit herself to those doctrines. She “sort of” believed in reincarnation . . . maybe. She definitely believed in the spirit living on after the body dies. I hope she has an easier life and a healthier body if she does cycle through again.
It was amazing to see the variety of people who came to the funeral home last night. It was a testament to my mother’s ability to touch people’s lives. There were family members, friends of hers and friends of each of us; there were the people who sat around her at church every Saturday evening. There was her close friend of over 60 years! I doubt I’ll ever have a friend that long – people are too mobile today.
Each one of the people in that line told us how kind and loving and generous my mother was. We knew that, of course, but it was nice to see that they realized it, too. I wish sometimes that they (and maybe even I) had done more to show her that when she was alive. I think she sometimes felt her love and attention was more given than received. But she never looked for attention and she never carried a grudge over a slight. She was remarkable that way.
She lived a good Christian life by setting an example rather than preaching. She wasn’t the person who volunteered at the soup kitchen or other organized groups. But she lived out the “greatest commandment” to love God and love neighbor as self. She looked for ways to make the life of each person she met a little better. She sent cards to everyone for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. She got gifts whenever someone had a baby and made sure to remember those new lives every year, too. When her nieces and nephews had children, they became her grandchildren too.
My mother always wanted grandchildren. I had thought I didn’t want children. I had two, mostly because of her need for them. I glad I did. I love my children, but I think she loved them more, if that is possible. She helped raise them when I became a single parent. After my sister learned she had breast cancer and would not be able to have children, I was even more grateful that I had changed my mind. She put every hope and dream and every bit of love she had into those 2 grandchildren. They will miss her sorely.
The funeral is today. I’ll write more later.