In the Funeral Planning chapter of Exit: The Life and Death Planner, we include a section where you can fill out information about the events, people, places and accomplishments that have made your life unique and meaningful. There is also a spot for writing your own eulogy and obituary. This need not be an unpleasant task. Working on a eulogy while you’re still in good health can give you time to reflect, in a deep and focused way, on what your legacy might be.
If a loved one is terminally ill, and you know that you’ll be writing a eulogy for them, you might want to begin on the project ahead of time. Don’t feel awkward about writing a eulogy while someone is still alive. Instead, realize that a well-written tribute to a loved one takes time to compose, and it’s often easier to start the process when you’re not overwhelmed by emotions, and by the many tasks that are involved in funeral planning at the last moment.
As a college Creative Writing teacher, Glenda has some writing tips that might be useful.
Fanny Halperin, my mother’s mother, was, according to everyone, “a lady,” a pearl in a family of hard working boys. She fell in love with my grandfather, Hymie Halperin, and after a 10-year engagement, they eloped and started a family. When my mother was born, Fanny was hoping for girl just like herself; a gentle, well-mannered, sweet-natured child who she could dress up in pretty clothes and take to tea. Instead she got my mom, Ruth Marilyn Halperin: a tomboy, a stubborn little scrapper, the apple of her father’s eye, a raven-haired sprite who did exactly what she wanted all her life and didn’t believe in regret At my grandpa’s cottage she was dubbed “the terror of St. Agathe.” As an adult, in our family, she was known as “the general” and she wore her stripes with pride.
I was my mother’s first child, and if she was hoping for a girl just like herself, well she didn’t get that. I was the sensitive, artistic type, and for a girl like me, it was intimidating being the general’s daughter. Generals are bold leaders who give commands rather than advice, who take control rather than consult. It wasn’t till I was living in Vancouver, a safe 2,000 miles away, that I came to appreciate that besides being formidable and powerful, my mother also had incredible joie de vivre.
As my auntie Peggy told me on the phone from Florida this week, “She wasn’t just my sister-in-law, she was my playmate. We had so much fun, shopping at the Florida sales, singing old songs in the car, going to the casino (or the “ca-chink” as my mom called it) to play the slots, cooking up a storm.” As Peggy said, ”if I wanted your mom in the kitchen, all I had to do was tinkle a spoon in a cup, azoi, and she’d come running in saying, ‘Peggy, what are you making?’” Because my mom was a great cook (we’re going to miss her briskets, her gefilte fish and her hockey soup), and she was a doer, not a spectator. She didn’t sit still. She organized my dad’s life, and the lives of her four children (when we let her). Her reach was far, and her radar, impeccable. For example, when I was giving birth to Max, a week before my due date, I was lying in the hospital room and the phone beside my bed rang. Startled, I picked it up, and guess who! My mother said, “I called your house and you weren’t there, so I tried the hospital and they put me right through.” The all-seeing eye of Sauron has nothing on my mom. As a travel agent – the perfect job for a general – she felt she had the authority to organize everyone’s trips and interfere in everyone’s lives.
Even in the last month of her life, she ruled from her bed. One day a few weeks ago, while sitting in her darkened room, I mentioned that I was going to meet my agent, Ali, for coffee. My mom wanted to know where exactly we were going. Her eyes were closed. I thought she was drifting off when her little voice piped up, “What about the food court at Yonge & Sheppard?”
Yes, my mom wasn’t shy about offering her opinion, and that’s because she lived a passionate, enthusiastic life. I loved watching how she connected with people. If she liked you – and she liked a lot of you here in this room – you knew it, and you could count on her. She was a loyal friend, and a champion of her extended family. She and my dad came out to Vancouver twice a year to visit my children because distance was never going to be an obstacle in that relationship. When I was a kid, she and my dad came to every ballet recital I performed in, from canary to can-can girl, and when I was an adult, they flew to Vancouver for every art show and exhibit I had. Of course, she also told me where and how to hang my paintings. She told me never to buy a white couch because it would get dirty, and she was right. The last time she ever came downstairs to her kitchen was to check on my soup-making skills and tell me how to do it properly. Even at my age, I clearly have lessons to learn.
They say you can’t rule from the grave, but I think they may be wrong. My mother had an indomitable spirit, and I think we’re all going to hear her voice telling us what to do for many years to come.
Eulogy for Dianne Ross (1941 – 2003) Laura’s Mom
How does one say goodbye to such a good friend/mother … with loving memories.
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.” When I think of my Mom, I truly think of a Mother.
My Mom was there for me my entire life. She was my care giver, my guidance, my instructor and my perfect friend. Mom was a person who truly loved being a mother. She had the gentleness and patience it takes to be a parent. She always took the time to show me how to do things and was always happy to help me. I have so many fond memories of things we did together. Some of the things we did together people now call them chores– but Mom never made them feel that way. Saturday mornings were days we vacuumed and dusted – I always got to choose which job I’d like to do. Working in the garden was endless hours of chit chat while picking raspberries for 2 hours or sitting on lawn chairs shelling peas. It was those beginning days that kept Mom and I so strongly bonded and knowing each other so well. I knew that I could come to my Mom with anything and she would always have a gentle response on how to handle the issue. Until Mom’s last day, we still talked on the phone most days and Mom always still had the “answers” for me. This will be the hardest for me – when I pick up the phone to call her and she’s not at the other end to answer back. Mom and I talked about this and Mom said to keep talking, she’d always be there listening.
Mom had so many wonderful loves – badminton until just a few years ago. It was the one game her and I played together for many a years. Lots of us have tokens of her knitting – she was famous for her slippers. Also, Mom walked everywhere each day – again her love to exercise. That was one of the things she missed the most in her last few months was her daily walks. Mom also loved to listen to the radio, and whenever I hear an Elvis Presley song I think of Mom right away. Elvis was her idol from the first time she saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show, to watching his tv movies, to teaching me to love his music.
Mom was also a “mother-friend” to all of us. I know most of you can think back to all the good times you had with her and remember what a great listener she was and always had kind words of wisdom. Though she didn’t socialize a lot, the friends she had were very special to her and she liked spending part of her day talking on the phone with these friends or meeting for a coffee once in awhile. I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that Mom touched your heart upon first meeting her and always stayed a true friend.
Mom was also “mother” to the earth. For many years, her and Dad were members of “Adopt a Block” where they took responsibility for a few blocks of Abbotsford and kept it spotlessly clean. Mom believed in recycling (I guess that has been passed down from her Mom, and to me). Mom was also known as the “captain of recycling” of her condominium block. She started up the recycling years ago for the condominium and it was only after she got so ill that the condominium block had to hire an agency to do the job now.
Mom was also a “true” grandmother. Her love for her 2 granddaughter was incredible. She was there for the birth of both girls and loved them from the first moment she touched them. Mom spent many a days visiting us so she could play with the girls. I still see her playing hockey with Katelyn on the kitchen floor for hours or letting Karly “style” Mom’s hair into all sorts of hairdos with curlers and hair clips. And many summer holidays were spent with the girls going to Grandma’s where Mom would take them swimming, walks in the park, bowling, mini-golfing or rock-climbing. I know Mom was sad to know she wouldn’t be there to see the girls graduate from school, see them in their careers or even marry and have children of their own. I know she’ll always be there in spirit for us, but we’ll miss her physical hugs and presence so much.
Mom also was a great “mother-in-law”. She truly loved Brad and his style of life, showing us all how to take time and enjoy life. They had a special bond, and I know Mom always was truly happy in knowing that Brad was such a devoted husband, father and son-in-law. Even when Mom was told she had cancer, her first words as a mother and wife was her worry of leaving us and not being here to help us anymore. She was so strong in illness and never wanted to be a burden to any of us. She continued to be the kind, giving person that she always was until her last days.
Mom was also very spiritual. Her love for God showed up everyday in her love for all of us and she often talked about going to a “better place”.
My Mom provided me with such a great base for life and taught me to enjoy life. She gave me the guidance and knowledge of how to be strong, and go for what I want in life, but to also not take away from anyone else in doing so. It is through her love that I have been able to have such a loving family and friends around me.
I found this poem which I think is perfect to read today,
You can only have one mother,
Loving, kind and true.
No other friend in all the world,
Will be so true to you.
For all her love and kindness,
She asked for nothing in return.
If all the world deserted me,
To my mother I would turn.
For those of you who have a mother,
Treasure her with care,
For you will never know her value,
Till you see that she is not there.
To hear her voice, to see her smile,
To sit and talk with her a while,
To be together in the same old way,
Would be my dearest wish today.
In closing, the band, The Back Street Boys put out a song a few years ago called “The Perfect Fan”. Whenever I listened to it, the words always reminded me so much of my Mom, so now I’d like to play it as a tribute to her – the person who was my “perfect Mom”.
I love you, Mom!