One day, I was rolling my eyes at my mother as she said something completely inappropriate. I told her that just because she is older doesn’t mean that she can say everything that she thinks. She corrected me immediately, and said, “Oh Jill, that’s where you are wrong. I don’t just say everything I think, I say everything that I feel, and I feel a lot.” At the time, I laughed, because in true Mummy fashion, it was a pretty funny statement, and she had a little evil gleam in her eye – the one that she got when she thought that she was getting away with something. Well, Mummy, I feel a lot too. I feel happy that you were my mother, but so sad that you aren’t here with me right now. Not quite two weeks ago, on March 3, my mother died. I’m lucky to have so many memories, but as some of you know, losing a loved one is hard. Over the next little bit, you are going to be hearing more about her, and the process of putting it all back together again. I thought I’d start with my Eulogy for her:
Karl Geurs and Carter Crocker once wrote: “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.” That tomorrow came sooner than we all hoped but this quote described to me everything that I’ve ever needed to know about our wonderful mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend, Judy.
Mummy – you are the bravest person in the world. Forgive me, I can’t use the past tense just yet. It’s too soon to think of a world without you. You re-started your life, moving to Toronto, making an entirely new network of friends through bridge and pottery. You tried new things, you were open to living a new life and you kept your old friends in the process. You did things on your own and never complained. You faced the deaths of so many people that you loved, including your parents, our beloved grandparents, Nathan and Sara Zelikovitz, your aunts and uncles and cousins that you were so close to. You continued to fight throughout your illnesses surprising even the doctors with your determination and moxie. You constantly surprised everyone else, including me with your chutzpah and hilarity. You are the only person that I know that could be bribed by fudge and jelly beans.
At under 5 feet tall, you never looked like you could take on the world, but you are definitely the strongest person that I’ve ever met. You suffered more than you ever should have with the pain and fatigue from cancer – especially near the end. You bounced back after not just one, but two heart attacks. Your other issues could fill a medical journal, yet you so rarely complained. We used to joke around with each other about your illnesses – either calling you a disease of the week movie or telling you that I never knew which charity walk to do for you, Heart and Stroke, Breast Cancer, Diabetes or Gout. You would always say – do the walk for gout – no one ever does that one because it hurts so damn much that no one can walk. You are such a survivor that I called you a cockroach, saying that you, and only you could survive a nuclear war. I asked you once “Mummy, how do you do it?” and you said “How do I do what?” and I said “Survive” and I’ll never forget your answer. “Because, I want to live”. And live you did.
You lived a big life. You had many friends; a close family and so many of us loved and admired you. You had a curious nature, a wicked sense of humour, a bratty disposition, but you were the most caring person. You worried about everyone when the weather was poor. A drop of rain on the ground was the only thing, aside from mice that you ever seemed to fear. Not for yourself, but for your children. I always got a frantic call from you warning me of the rain or snow. I had to reassure you that I had a coat and umbrella with me but unless I was at home, you were still fearful that sweet little me would melt. You were modern in thought and always told us that women could do anything that men could do (except maybe open a jar and kill a spider). You cared for and sacrificed for us and we won’t forget that.
I hope that we can all be as brave as you are Mummy. When you lose your mother, you feel so alone in the world. That person, the only person in some cases, that knows your history is lost to you forever. I know that you’d want us to go on, and live and stay strong, and we will, but it’s going to be so hard without your love and guidance which brings me to the fact that you are smarter than you think. You are brilliant Mummy – although you have the worst sense of direction. You were forever lost, turning the wrong way; never understanding east, west north and south. You always wanted us to tell you right and left, and then you’d just turn in whatever direction you felt like going, which was always the wrong one. You were gifted in every other way though.
You weren’t just quick-witted; you were smart in a way that many of us just are not. You read people and situations. You predicted outcomes. You were world-wise, but not world-weary. You were an artist – yes I admit it. Your pottery wasn’t flawed, maybe just a little tilted in some cases, but it really is art. You made jewelry, needlepointed and were an amazing cook. You weren’t just a giver of advice (whether I wanted it or not), you were my financial advisor, my doctor, my home economics teacher, my lawyer and my everything. We all don’t know what we are going to do without your wisdom. I’m guessing that we’ll pick up the phone to ask you a question and realize that thanks to you, we may already know the answer after our heart breaks a little knowing that you won’t be at the other end of the call.
Mummy – you will be missed by all of us more than you will ever know. I hope that you knew how much you are loved, admired and respected. You are without a doubt, the person that I look up to the most in the world. We were all so lucky to have you in our lives. Your doctors once said to you that the goal for you was to live the best life that you can, for as long as you can, and that you did. I’d like to say that cancer didn’t beat you – you beat cancer. Cancer never robbed you of who you are as a person. You were always, thankfully still your brave, strong, smart self. You were the brat that made us all laugh and the loving person that is making all of your friends and family cry right now.
To close, a quote by AA Milne that perfectly sums up how I’m feeling today – “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” How lucky indeed, Mummy. I love you, good-bye for now.