Eulogy for Ma
I'm finally getting my eulogy for my grandmother up on the blog, complete with the quote from the book Holy Simplicity: The Little Way of Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day & Therese of Lisieux by Joel Schorn. Big thanks to those who laughed at my jokes.
I hate to start this little speech by throwing my dad under the bus, but one of the first things he said when he and my aunt met up at my house was that Ma’s obituary was not going to be as long as her husband’s was. My hackles went up because I erroneously construed this to mean that my grandmother was somehow less “important”, to use a worldly term. This stayed on my mind for the rest of the evening, with thoughts coming from all directions to flesh this out. Eventually, I remembered something from a book I’d been reading about the Catholic Saint Therese of Lisieux (and I only just found out that Ma was Catholic herself for a time, so it turned out to be deliciously appropriate):
When Saint Therese lay sick and dying, she overheard two novices whom she directed chatting outside her window. They were speculating about the death notice that the mother superior would send to the other Carmelite communities, as was customary on the death of a sister. "I really wonder sometimes what our Mother Prioress will find to say about Sister Therese when she dies," one of the novices said. "She has certainly never done anything worth speaking of."
Those who know of St Therese are probably laughing to themselves; those who don’t know must know that the book goes on to describe St Therese as having “a spectacular career as a saint” and receiving the much-revered title of Doctor of the Church. Obituaries and death notices, it seems, are not the best avenue for recounting the treasures a person has stored up in heaven. My grandfather did things that added up to a very expensive obituary in the Dallas Morning News. I’m not here to recount those things. What I’ll recount is how Ma stayed with me while everyone went to the Mavericks game when I had the chicken pox … in sixth grade … over spring break … the same week the FDA approved the chicken pox vaccine. And I’ll also recount how she took my mother out to shop for new clothes after my brother and I were born. And, my goodness, did you ever hear her hum or sing a hymn to herself? It just sounded right. And I remember when she took me out to lunch for my birthday and told my husband and me about about her job fitting glasses for WWII troops, and she said to us, “I swear, everyone in the Army needed glasses.” No, not the stuff of obituaries, which doesn’t bode well for my future obit. But like I said, these are treasures stored in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. That’s infinitely better.
May you all have boring obituaries.