I wrote and read the below eulogy through many tears at Mom’s Requiem mass. The liturgy was sung in Plainchant Latin, and I felt like I was standing at the gates of heaven listening to angels sing. Mom would have been 75 years old today. Happy Birthday, Mom. You are always in my heart. I love you!
How can I do justice to 74 years of a life lived with what amounts to just a few paragraphs. When I think of Dianne, I think foremost of things she has said and done over the years that have stayed with me, words and actions that reflect her essence. Dianne was larger than life for me. She saw me take my first breath. I have known her all of my life because she was my mother. And she told me I would always be her little girl no matter how old I was. Some of my earliest memories are of our girl time together – painting our nails and curling our hair. Mom did all the things for me that a mother does: feeding us, making clothes for us, caring for us when we were sick, but she also taught my brothers and I to be honest, have a work ethic, and be persons of integrity. She made sure we thought about and questioned things. She took us to art galleries, museums, and theaters in Washington D.C., and instilled a love for the arts in us. Most importantly to me, she taught me to say my prayers and imparted her faith to me, enabling me to develop a deep love for God while I was still a young child.
Mom’s nurturing spirit shone best through her gardening. She turned her entire back yard into a peaceful sanctuary with many different seasonal flowers, bushes, and trees: using every space, carefully planning where each plant would thrive, and adding new creations every year. Her essence is still there in her gardens, where a timeless rose bush graces the porch roof with sprays of pink spilling over the sides, where birds bathe and hollies offer their food. One can feel her presence there. I think of the quote by James Russell Lowe which she often repeated, “Not what we give, but what we share, for the gift without the giver is bare.”
Mom also had a strong will, and she never backed down from a challenge. She went back to school in her thirties, while raising three children. She acquired a bachelor’s degree in sociology and then went to Georgetown University on scholarship. There, she earned a master’s degree in demography and subsequently worked for the House of Representatives, Bell Atlantic, and the Census Bureau as a demographer. She was a published author in her field, and she was named in Who’s Who in American Women in 1984. After her retirement, she returned to school and earned a master’s degree in history at the age of 70. She did not see impediments along her path in life. She saw opportunities, and she achieved what she believed she could do, and she never gave up.
Dianne was a daughter, sister, mother, friend, neighbor, coworker, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a wife. Her best friend and the love of her life was her husband, David. They shared 35 years together enjoying their dogs and birds, their gardens, and their many discussions about politics, history, ancestry research, and the latest good movie. They enjoyed learning, and loving life and each other.
If I look closely at those things I loved about my mother, I find that they are right here within my own heart and soul. I cherish what I have gained from knowing her, from having loved her, and from having the privilege of calling her Mom. This quote from Edmund Spenser’s, The Fairie Queene, recently reverberated in my head until I gave it my full attention and wrote it down:
“For whatsoever from one place does fall,Is with the tide unto another brought:For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”
I leave you with this quote by Saint Teresa of Avila, which I found recently in Mom’s devotional, and surprisingly, it is one I also know by heart:
“Let Nothing Disturb You,
Let Nothing Frighten You,
All Things are Passing Away,
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
Alone God Suffices.”