Friday, January 19, 2018


My wonderful sister Anita's eulogy for Mary. I would not change a word.

"If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy store there be but left two loaves, sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."- John Greenleaf Whittier

This quote by John Greenleaf Whittier was my mother's favorite and she truly lived by it. She was heard saying it not because she was a materialistic person, (although the woman knew her way around a stores' sale racks like she had radar) but because she believed in feeding the soul. She would pinch pennies to be sure we'd get lessons in whatever we REALLY needed to learn at the time. She'd drive us anywhere to feed our spirits. I recall many occasions when there would be something we wanted that wasn't necessarily practical..."hyacinth for the soul!" She'd shout and if it meant a great deal to us, she'd do her best to make sure we had it. She believed in the beauty of feeling good and of happiness in even the smallest of gestures. Her own and that of those around her. She tried to provide us with the necessities but also with a sense of individuality, on a budget. Having so many kids always seemed like a shock to her. She grew up the non-practical, artistic child of quiet, !
hardworking parents and their other conservative children. That was, until 14 years later, when Myles came along. Having another albeit younger outgoing, fun-loving (crazy) sibling allowed her to really shine. Then she met Dad, a much more conservative but still very artistic guy. The rest is history.

Having nine children, she learned to be frugal with a flare. We can all attest her artistic arrangement of hand me downs. It was legendary. What was once a dress, now a cool pant suit for a leggier child. She was always trying to get us to wear more color and ditch the slimming black clothing. She was the only mother I know who encouraged us the wear more make up, not wash off what we were wearing. Despite having so many daughters and being so “sparkly” and devoted to us, her boys held a special place on her heart. One might say they were her favorites but she’d never say that aloud. She would talk about them endlessly and travel to the ends of the earth to be around them. At any given time, she could be seen walking coursing hounds or hanging out on a ranch with Steve in New Mexico, having drinks with while they poked fun at her accent at Mike’s favorite watering hole in Georgia or riding as the belle of the parade at Mardi Gras in St. Croix with Mark. She loved be!
ing near them and sharing in their adventurous spirits. She shined even brighter when the boys were around although she shined her light on all that surrounded her. Her perspective, which she shared readily, was that of an artist. The colors, the shadows and light she saw in glorious detail. She wanted us all to be good people who saw good in situations instead of darkness. She would point out everyday objects but describe them as extraordinary. Even as her mind and body began to fail her, we'd be driving down the road and she's sit up taller and say "Look at at that tree! The leaves practically glow! Or we'd be driving by the ocean and she'd stare at it and describe the color as only she could see it. Believe me when I tell you, she could talk about ANYTHING in great detail. Her brother lovingly call his "little sister" 78 RPM because she talked so fast and with such energy, she sounded like a record on the wrong speed. For you young people, go check out what a record is i!
n a museum. They were ancient music producers that are now making a nostalgic comeback. She saw art in everything and attempted to pass on her love of art to all of us in various ways. She would keep us entertained with art projects and crafts. She always encouraged us to express ourselves with art. With one exception, however, painting sunsets. Many years ago, one of us was attempting to paint a sunset and was frustrated it didn't look real. She told to them it was almost impossible to paint a sunset that looked authentic. The actual sunsets are so glorious and beautiful, they always wind up looking too colorful and fake on paper or canvas. Even photographs of sunsets rarely do them justice. Because of this, in my mind, I see Mom meeting the artist that creates the actual sunsets. In awe, she’ll says "bravo!" staring at his latest creation and maybe, just maybe... God will allow her to paint a few. So look around you, look up to the skies. Notice the beauty in the minutiae. See the contrast of colors or the beauty in the sunset and know her spirit is with us always.

To paraphrase a Beatles song that I heard constantly as a child and believed it was about her; "I wake up to the sound of music mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And though it may be cloudy there is still light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be! We love you, Mom! Your spirit will live on in all of us. Rest In Peace seems to confining for her so I with the angels, Mom!


Anonymous said...

Excellent and especially so in these trying times.

Anonymous said...

Excellent and especially so in these trying times.

Chas Clifton said...

A beautiful tribute!

Karen Graham said...

Such a tribute - so glad I had read it prior to her reading at the funeral. We are a lucky family to have had such fabulous parents. Karen