EULOGY FOR MY MOTHER, SHIRLEY GOODMAN
Click the blue link to play audio of my eulogy:
Some reflections on my life without mom:
Mom was so special. I could never start my day without a call to mom. How I missed those daily telephone calls to her. She seemed to get happy if I was happy even when she felt under the weather, and if I was troubled, she of all people knew I was troubled without my saying a word. I just talked to her and listened to her wise advice, and somehow I wasn’t troubled as much anymore.
All my friends knew that on Mondays I was unavailable. That was the day I spent with my mom. I must admit the doctor visits with her were no fun, but then we had lunch and she enjoyed it so and I forgot the doctor part. We talked and she repeated many things over and over again. When I said goodbye and started for home I felt so great. That contented satisfied feeling after a visit with mom can never be again.
(Those words were written by my mother for her mother, a year after her mother died. But I could have written those words. Monday was the same day that I used to always go shopping with my mom)
From the day that I was born, both my mother and my father made the world a safe and beautiful place. I was completely bathed and protected by their love.
My bond with my mother was so deep, that for most of my life I lived with terror over losing her. I could not imagine how I could live without her and I was sure I would not survive her loss. The love that my mother had for me could only be described as something fierce. She was a mother bear. I never doubted that she would have died to save my life.
It was apparent early in my life that I had a lot of creative abilities. Both my parents encouraged and nurtured my talents. Dad was the breadwinner and we lived modestly. But somehow there was always money for me to have art and music lessons.
My mother clapped with joy about every aspect of my life. If I cried, she cried with me. Her greatest joy was to know every detail about my day. And I knew she was pouring the same kind of encouragement into my brothers, Norman and Howard.
I was envious of my mother’s deep religious faith. She followed Judaic rituals with fervor. Her passion for doing the right thing was intense and unwavering. Everything she did was with certainty and love for God.
I didn’t feel the same way she did and this was challenging for me. I was so close with her and didn’t want to ever disappoint her. She was my best friend.
When I was first married, it was difficult for me to separate myself from her. I was still a little girl inside, filled with fear. I never wanted to disappoint my mother, but I needed to live my own life; we were different people and that I carried my own beliefs. I wasn’t going to be as observant as she was.
It was so hard for me to confront her, but she accepted our differences. After that, I loved her even more.
I had my own children, and my mother loved each one of them deeply. She helped me through each one of my children’s births and shared in every aspect of their lives as long as she was able to. All of her grandchildren gave her deep pleasure and she loved to plan for holidays and their birthdays far in advance.
It was my first-born child that showed me the depth of her love. Although my son, Jason was deathly sick from a heart defect, she helped me to keep him going. She taught me ways to feed him. She knew amazing ways to get him to stop crying so that I could sleep.
When Jason died, she agonized to see my suffering. She sobbed, “This is the worst thing that could happen to my daughter!” She mourned her beautiful grandson deeply and cried along with me for many years. My mother and I made sure he was never forgotten.
The aging process crept into our relationship gradually. My mother who had been so strong became weaker. She had chronic back pain and silently suffered. It became difficult for her to walk and to manage things. Every week when we went shopping, she pushed herself to the limit. I knew she loved it, but felt sad to see her pain. It was mingled with her pleasure. Nothing meant more to her than shopping with me.
Because she pushed herself, she fell many times. In 2009, my mother was near death and on a respirator. I was frantic and terrified. She was my cheering squad; she was the one who cared about everything I did and made me feel important.
I had to face the fear I had always carried. I could not live without my mother, my best friend. All of my sadness and grief surfaced.
Then something amazing happened to me and it was a real life miracle. I prayed that my mother would not die. At that time, I didn’t believe in God. I just had so much love for her.
And suddenly, the love my mother gave me began to bloom inside of me. I expressed my feelings about losing her through writing. This in turn caused me to embrace music. She had nurtured every one of my talents with her love.
My fear dissolved and was replaced by joy. And all of it was because of her.
As she continued fading, I became a brighter light and just kept getting stronger and stronger. And the most beautiful part was that I was able to share it with my mother because she recovered. I shined my light on her and she could see that I was happy. Everything she wanted for me came to pass. I was no longer suffering with grief. My children blossomed into wonderful human beings who also carried her love.
Because of her illness, the mother who had comforted me became my child. When she was afraid, I lifted her up and was able to reassure her that she was safe. She fell again in 2011 and broke her hip. Without surgery, she was not expected to live very long, but two years later she was still alive.
So the faith that I envied in my mother came to me after all. I received a special blessing from God with music and songs. In the beginning, my songs healed me from grief over Jason’s death. But then the magic of my music helped me cope with my mother’s continued fade from life.
With dementia, my mother couldn’t share much with me the last few years. I’ve missed her very much, but with my strength I’ve learned to be my own best friend.
My mother was all about love. I smile just like she always did. Her love remains constant. Even death cannot separate us.
In Hebrew, my mother’s name Shirley means my song.
My mother was an exquisite song in my life. She is a magnificent melody that I will continue humming until the day I die.
Click the blue link to play audio of Miriam’s eulogy:
EULOGY FOR SHIRLEY BY HER COMPANION, MIRIAM:
Hello. It is an honor for me to be part of this ceremony remembering my dear Shirley.
It is difficult for me to believe she is no longer with us. I wake up in the morning thinking that it’s just a dream. (Pause for tears) Sorry . . . and that I will again see those eyes that will speak to me when they will see me arrive. I see her open arms and her beautiful smile. Shirley will ask me where I have been – because I had left her alone. And they were giving her a hard time. I will tell Shirley that I was here and nobody will give her a hard time anymore.
I have so many memories of you, my beloved Shirley, that I will not be able to finish saying them all. I will only say that you were an example for me. You held onto life for your children and family because you knew how much they loved you and needed you – even though they were adults. For you, they were still your babies.
I will miss our outings. No one in the nursing home will go out 2-3 times a week. The staff and the older residents will say that your children spoiled you too much. They definitely inherited your great, noble and generous heart.
How can one not love a person so wonderful as you? A great mother, wife and friend. My beloved Shirley, even though I cry because of your absence, I know that you are in a better place beside God and Mr. Lee.
I know that I will see you again one day. Now you are an angel that watches over us. I won’t say goodbye. Instead – see you later. I will miss you all the days of my life and I will always love you Shirley.
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