Mom's Eulogy.

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by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Thank you for coming here in honor of my mom and to comfort us at this time of loss.

 

Your presence is especially significant because my mother despised funerals and she probably would not have come to your funeral – or even mine.

 

I only knew my mother as a mother. I did not know her with the perspective others had as her friends, her cousin, her brother…

 

My first and perhaps strongest impression of my mother was that I thought she was the most outrageously beautiful woman on earth.

 

Many children think this about their mothers -- when they are two years old.

 

I ALWAYS thought this, even when she had lost all her hair and was frail from dying.

 

It was also clear to me early on that my mother was unconventional and irreverent and wanted to live life her way.

 

She understood that certain credentials were critical because of how they greased the skids in life – a healthy IQ, good manners, an impressive education, nice legs, a good backhand, etc.

 

However much of the world’s conventions she cast aside.

 

She called her mother…Hank. She let her hair go gray in her early 30s. She breastfed her children -- in the 1960s when no one did that. Every summer she took us to an isolated, rural farmhouse in New Hampshire rather than some chi-chi resort with a pool and waterslide. She allowed us to have as many pets as we wanted– turtles, fish, parakeets, snakes, horses, cats, chickens, raccoons, a skunk. She let us wear sneakers to church – the few times she actually made us go to church.

 

She never cared about a person’s social standing or accomplishments – which was particularly important given that we grew up in Washington DC where people can get obsessed with such credentials. She had a unique ability to see only the person, not their trappings. She always said “You have to have a few friends you cannot explain.”

 

Having an irreverent MOTHER was particularly important to me as a young girl, and later when I became a woman and mother myself. She absolutely believed that we girls were as smart and capable as the boys in our life – probably a bit smarter and MORE capable, actually. She knew how important it was for a woman to be strong and independent and to be able to take care of herself. I watched her take care of us children with high standards and ferocity.

 

I wanted to say a few things about what I experienced caring for my mother since her cancer diagnosis. My mother often quoted Robert Frost, who described family with these words: “Home is the place that, when you have to go there – they have to take you in.” So it felt natural for me to take her in to our home when she was dying and needed 24 hour care.

 

However, one of our…interesting…family dynamics is that my parents always pressured my older sister and me to be responsible caretakers and high achievers. They did not seem to expect the same of my younger brother and sister.

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leslie morgan s...
05.19.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

So true MonkeyWoman!

monkeywoman
05.18.10

This was a lovely remembrance. My mother recently died as well, and I find it interesting that with all the proper, mannerly and "right" things she taught me and tried to instill -it's the irreverence and outside the mainstream beliefs about things that I think of and remember the most. I think sometimes as mothers when we worry about our examples to our kids and stress over perhaps teaching them the wrong things, we should stop and think that as long as we're teaching them to be good people, it's our craziness and difference that they'll love and remember most.

leslie morgan s...
05.04.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Thank you all! She was a great mom and I miss her terribly.

fcampagne
04.27.10

Hi Leslie - what a beautiful eulogy and thank you for sharing it. Your mother sounds like an absolutely formidable person (and I mean that in the french way - as in amazing, wonderful, - I'm not sure it has the same meaning in English, sorry about that!) I hope that both you and your children are doing ok. xoxo - fred

beansgm
04.27.10

You brought tears to my eyes. Having lost my mother earlier than I ever expected (she was only 53 and I, 33) I can only now say, seven years after her death, that I see the same sense of "family" in my only sibling. It was always mom and my brother and I, but when she died, he and I maintained the same semi-distant relationship we always had... until recently when I encountered hard times at home. Broken and lost I never expected my brother to come to my rescue, nor would I have ever asked for help. But to my surprise he sensed a problem, reached out to me and actually offered to help - a role my mother always played. So while my mom (the self proclaimed black sheep of her family) has left us and I feared the rest of my adult years to be lonely and lost without the center of my universe (aka MOM), low & behold, my brother stepped up to the plate. I guess she did do OK with him afterall.

molymama
04.27.10

Very touching! I hope I'm remembered in much the same way!

Emily_Press
04.26.10

What a beautiful eulogy. Your words brought me to tears, in part sadly because of a similar experience. Our mothers are the nucleus of our lives and it's not until they are gone that we experience the void. She sounds like she was a wonderful teacher, mentor and mother. Please accept my sympathies.