Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I wanted to share what I said at my mother's memorial. Sorry for the many posts on this subject, but due to some comments on another blog, thought maybe I should share. I knew that the minister that presided over the memorial was vague in his theology, my family adamant in their disdain of Christianity, and knew I had an opportunity for my family to hear a bit of the gospel. Here goes.

Mother was a woman of a thousand cliches and gestures. A few that come to mind are........

You're just picking on me because I'm
smaller than you!

Curses, curses, curses! I may just go outside
and curse awhile!


I should just start a revolution!

My momories have run to the quirky aspects of our upbringing,. I remember being taught to walk with a book on my head for good posture, feeling embarassed that we took sandwiches made of thick homemade bread to school instead of the uniform thin squares of Wonder Bread that the other kids ate....but there was no embarassment in coming home to a warm kitchen full of the smell of fresh baked homemade bread.

Mother was the only person I knew who named her cats after Himalayan mountain ranges, called her car "Sheherazade" and used unmentionable basque names for politicians she didn't like.

Mother was the only person I knew who made us pick up not just our own litter after a day at Pyramid Lake, but the whole beach full of litter. She always left an offering of a bit of soda or beer as a gesture to the lake. Her idea of environmentalism extended to all of beautiful Nevada and stopped at the front door of our house: our own Yucca Mountain of deposited junk - beloved only by pack rats.

The first day of school started with a bowl of oatmeal, a ritual repeated throughout our school years.

Mother loved her gardens. She lvoed them so much she dressed up like a rodeo clown and followed the annual rodeo parade with a shovel in order to pick up the manure left from the horses. Free fertilizer!

Mother loved her books. She not only got the library bookmobile to come out to Panther Valley, she convinced them to drive up right to our front door every two weeks.

Mother loved a good debate. When we were young, the Kennedy's were the bane of all existance, and later her politics swung wildly to the left, where the mention of President Bush could incite a long string of colorful language and wild gestures. Bruce and I realized just how tough it was for Mother the last few days when he brought up President Bush just to get her stirred up and he was not met with a disgusted look or appropriate cuss word.

Most of you know where I stand on spiritual matters. I have prayed for Mother for 30 years. Contrary to popular thought, I don't believe everyone automatically gets a free ticket to Heaven, but I do believe in God's great mercy and grace, His perfect justice, and His power to overcome a hard heart.

I was in anguish hoping Mother truly was home. I believe God has shown me two things that have comforted me and brought me hope.

The evening before Mother died, Bruce and I had left the hospital. I was compelled to pray for her, and in the midst of my prayer, I totally broke down sobbing. I was reminded later of this scripture:

Likewise the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For we
do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Holy Spirit Himself
makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be

The other incident was on Mother's birthday (Aug. 24). A scripture came to my mind to share in a birthday card with her, along with mentioning that she was near the end of her journey. I gave the card to her and asked that she read it later on her own. That was the last time we talked. That night when she was in Intensive Care, Bruce and I went searching in her room for the card. I just wanted to know that she had read it. We found it later in her belongings and it had indeed been opened. This is part of the scripture I shared from Ephesians

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with
which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together
with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together and made us
sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus that in the ages to come He
might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ

Underneath the bluster and the loud laughter was sadness and loneliness. I believe when Mother faced the door and it opened, Mother realized she had truly come home and she discovered the love she had been searching for her whole life, the unconditional, immeasurable depths of God's love.

That leaves us - bearing a loss and maybe these verses will help someone:

Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my
burden light.

There are two prominant mountains that tower over our town. Mt. Rose is an alpine mountain, deep green with remnants of snow, and Peavine Mountain is sagebrush covered, with patches of Aspen groves. Mother wanted her ashes scattered over Peavine. Yesterday evening my brothers, sister, some grandkids, Bruce and I drove up the deeply rutted, rock strewn, dusty dirt road to the top of Peavine. We found a grove of Aspens in a crook of the ridge. It is the last place on the moutain the sunset rays linger. It overlooks a wilderness area called Dog Valley to the west. One can see ridge after ridge of purple mountains fading off in the distance. In the Aspen grove were brambly chokecherry bushes. That was very symbolic for us because Mother made chokecherry jam, and used chokecherry bushes at Christmas when we couldn't afford Christmas trees. We scattered her ashes as a family and then simply clapped. Nobody made any speeches. The sun had just set, and the partial full moon had risen. The sky was alpinglow. It was a perfect symbolic time. We carved Mother's initials into an aspen tree alongside carvings from long forgotten Basque sheepherders. She would have loved it.


At 5:00 AM, Blogger Islandsparrow said...

What a beautiful post and lovely tribute to your mom. I'm praying that the Lord will give you deep comfort.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger missmellifluous said...

I join my prayers with Island Sparrow's.

Your mother valued some great things and obviously taught you some great things too. You spoke of her in a beautiful way!


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