Honor the Living

I was reading a post on Stargazer today where Margaret was talking about how when someone dies, suddenly relatives who had nothing to do with the deceased when they were living are heartbroken.

Margaret wrote that her mother always said “Bring me flowers and visit me NOW when I’m alive, not when I’m at the cemetery.”

That post took me back to my mother’s funeral in 2001. Allow me to share that day with you.

Eulogy for My Mother.

It is amazing what strength that we can find within ourselves. I took
the sheet of paper that I held clutched in my hand. My body was shaking as I walked up to the podium. I looked out over a room of her family and friends.

Who were these people? Though they were related to me, though they knew my mother; they were strangers. I did not even recognize my own half brother.

My voice crackled as I began to read the eulogy that I had prepared for my mother’s funeral. Behind me laid a woman in a black and floral dress. She was beautiful and I found my strength through my love for her.

In her hand lie a rose and her head was upon a silk pillow. Photos of me, my husband and children surrounded her.

I glanced back at her and then I looked over to where my husband sat. He smiled at me, giving me a sign that he knew that I could do this.

I glanced down at the paper and I began to read. My voice was expressing anger as I said the following words:

I know we often put off in our lives many thing and it is times like funerals that we gather with tear filled emotion, expressing our love for a loved one gone to rest.

I want everyone in this room to ask yourself this:

Why do we wait till a love one has gone to gather at their grave site and weep? Why didn’t we honor them when they were living?

I looked up from my paper just enough to scale the room. I looked into each of their eyes and I saw their reaction.

They held their head in shame and guilt for the woman who lay behind me. They all pretended to know her, when the truth was they no longer knew who she was at all.

The room was hush except for the sound of my voice that was filled with so much anger, hurt and pain.

As I continued reading I became angrier. I was angry at their ignorance. I read for her. I said all the things she would have wanted to say. I said all the things that she never got to say. I knew there in the room at that moment she was looking down upon me and she was saying, “You tell them Rose.” I knew that she was proud that I had the confident to take a stand for her. I should have said these things long before she died.

I finished reading and returned to my seat. We closed in prayer and I felt eyes upon me. I didn’t care one bit what they were thinking.

As I left the funeral home and followed the casket to the car I heard
whispers. We followed the hearse to the cemetery and my body felt numb.

At the cemetery, I stood in the rain. A man offered me an umbrella and his coat and I shook my head, no.

Never had I felt so cold. A chill ran up the back of my neck.

Who were all these people? Why were these people here saying their goodbyes? Each of them were strangers to me. Tears ran down my face, as I took the Rose that I held in my hand and laid it upon my mother’s grave.

My eyes pierced with hatred as I turned and walked away and headed back to the car. Someone stopped me at the car to offer me a hug and a
sympathetic word. She wanted to know where we were gathering afterward for refreshments.

That was my family for you. They were always thinking of their gut. We had just lowered the woman who gave me life to the ground and all they could think about was stuffing their faces. I thought, yes let us gather somewhere so you can all laugh and joke and remember fond memories of mom, but when she needed you, you were not there.

I looked at her and I said “My mother is laid to rest there are no refreshments; I’m going home.”

I got in the car and my brother drove me home. On the drive home, few words were exchanged between my brother and I. When we arrived at my house I said,  “Don’t be a stranger.”

Yet I knew in my heart that even he was a stranger to my mother and I. I knew that would be the last time I would see him and it was.

As I closed the car door, I closed a chapter of my life.

I honored my mother everyday of her life and she left this world knowing that.

Is your mother still alive?

If she is then:

Honor her! Express your acknowledgment and love her now while she’s living and not when she’d dead.

Acknowledge all those important in your life. Is there someone in your life that you have not spoken to in some time? There is no time like the present to pick up the phone and say hello.

I would rather have a loving smile from friends I know are true, than tears shed round my casket when this world I’ve bid adieu. – Author unknown

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