Celebration of Life



If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to join the Peace Corps. My mom died on January 27, 2015.  On the 26th, after saying good bye to my mom I wrote the following as I was flying back to CA. She died less than 12 hours later and I ended up reading this at her service. My mom was an amazing woman and I want to share a piece of her with you…

What’s One More?

When talking about my mom I used to say that I looked exactly like my mother but we were exact opposites. I am loud and obnoxious where she was quiet and shy. As I reflect on it now though I think I am more like her than I imagined. When I reflect even more I realize that we, my brothers and sisters and I all got the best parts of our mom.  Sure we got some of the bad too but it was the good that saved us. The good that kept us together as a family and the good that will keep us together even after her death.

Sean got her dedication and resolution. Sean is like the lion, the king of the pride. He protects his family at all costs. He gives his pride the room to grow and adventure out. He never tells anyone what to do within the pride and he will let you join but only if you prove that you can be trusted and that you can add to the pride. He’s fiercely protective of all of his friends and family and has no tolerance for abuse! Sean is a lot like Mom who did everything within her power to keep us safe, warm and fed, sometimes working 2-3 jobs at a time.

Jimmy got her generosity. Whatever Jimmy has he is always willing to share. When he goes to the store he is always thinking about everyone in the house or who’s coming into town. Many times I would come home to find my favorite creamer or treat already stocked and most recently when I couldn’t afford my favorite pizza he bought it for us. Mom was the same way, she shared everything she had with whoever needed it. In our family you didn’t “borrow” money from mom, she gave it to you if she had it.  She always said “Its only money! and it all comes out in the wash”

Maisie got her caring and nurturing. Maisie, like mom, is a natural mom and caregiver. She has always taken care of everyone around her including friends, family or neighborhood kids and as part of that she is fiercely loyal.  She will go to blows with anyone trying to hurt someone she loves.  She is the mama bear that will tear the head off of anyone who tries to mess with her cubs. It’s frightening and beautiful all at the same times. Mom never turned anyone away. Everyone was welcome and if you were in her house and under her protection you were loved, cared for and safe.

Mary Jane got her sense of family and loyalty.  Birth order is a funny thing. Mary Jane and mom were both the youngest of five (Stephan came later). Both were the babies of the family that never really got to be the baby. They had to grow up fast, had only one parent for most of their childhood, had older brothers and sisters who acted as parents (aka told her what to do) and they both wanted the family that they didn’t have. Mary Jane recently got married to Mario a wonderful man and the love of her life. We are proud to have him and Aliana in our family. Together they are working on fulfilling her dreams of a big family like the one she was raised in just like my mom did. Mary Jane, Maisie and Mom all mama bears protecting their cubs.

Stephan got her patience and easy going personality. Stephan changed all of our lives. Just when mom thought she was done she was blessed with Stephan! Maisie and Mary Jane got to start practicing their mamaness and protectiveness.  Sean and Jimmy got a brother to not only boss around but someone to show how to not just be a man but a good man.  We all spoiled him and gave him everything we ever wanted because he was worth it and he still is.  He is one of the nicest and friendliest people I know. He isn’t an extravert like me and throws himself at people instead he slowly warms up to people like mom did.  Also like mom he is patient and it takes a while to piss him off but when he does…BOOM! Just like mom.

Her nieces and nephews who were more children than nieces and nephews got her parenting skills which means establishing good morals and having fun! Aunt Glenda’s first son Todd was mom’s first baby. I would be jealous but I didn’t find this out until I was in my twenties and by then I was firmly established as the oldest so its ok. Todd has three kids and even though I don’t know them well I know that they are awesome and I’ll give my mom partial credit.  Uncle Jim’s kids who practically lived at our house all have kids and they are amazing parents. Sarah, Artie and Joey all have gorgeous children, they are smart, kind and so much fun! I know mom is going to miss being a part of their lives and of the lives of the many grandchildren to come. Yes I am talking to my siblings J

Her one mores… for some its too early to tell (yes I am talking about Stevie’s friends) You are still writing your story and I know it will be awesome if you remember what mom taught you.  What’s One More started when I was young…yes a million years ago – the 80s. I would ask if my friends could sleep over and mom would say yes – What’s One more when you have five kids. Eventually that would turn into … What’s One more when you have six kids… and then even simpler Whats One More?  Many of these one mores are mothers and fathers now and they have shared stories with us of how mom influenced them.

As for me. I don’t know what my brothers and sisters will say but I think I got her work ethic, multi-tasking ability and capacity to love. Like her I am a Virgo and we are both perfectionist and planners which is why our bosses love us. Although I have always loved what I do mom was lucky to not only love what she did but also the people she worked with. Every time I called or was in town all mom would talk about is work. Mom was with Chase for almost nine years and many of her coworkers became friends and family. Stacy, another Virgo, helped her grow personally and professionally. Mom respected her so much and considered her one of the cubs. Maggie has been a great friend and influence and she and mamasan helped mom with Mary Jane’s wedding. David was always her friend and biggest cheer leader. He always encouraged her to do more! There are many more people who mom really cared about and respected at Chase. They are all also a part of the “One Mores” and I know that mom influenced them as well.

Today let’s celebrate a life that although was sometimes hard and way too short it was filled with love, life and fun. Let’s remember that we are not saying good bye but see you soon.  Also remember that she is still here. She is still here in me, in my brothers and sisters, in her brothers and sisters and in all the one mores…

When I was a teenager mom would carry around a newspaper clipping of a quote that her dad like. She passed that clipping and quote on to me. I have tried to live by these words because my mom did and all I ever wanted was to make mom proud and to be like her.

To Laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded according to Ralph Waldo Emmerson. Well Mom I think you succeeded a million times over!


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