Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Mom Grace
Delivered by her daughter on February 18, 2008

(My brother Josh told me I should go ahead and share this eulogy I wrote for my Mom in 2008. I was hesitant to publish it, but I think Mom would approve.)

I want you to know how comforting your presence today is for our family. On this day, when it is almost blindingly painful for many of us, it’s finally clear to me why we perform this ritual of gathering together to celebrate a life that is gone. Your presence is your love in action, and I want you to know that your love has been deeply felt by our family. Your prayers, cards (we have mountains of them at home, by the way), food brought to the house, pampering gifts for Mom, visits, emails, and calls throughout Mom’s illness have strengthened and sustained this family through our darkest trial.

Throughout my life, Mom constantly impressed upon me the importance of showing gratitude for the blessings of life and the many ways people around us go out of their way to express their love for us. When I complained as a willful teenager, she constantly reminded me of the good in people and the details around me that I should find gratitude in. She impressed the importance of gratitude with her actions, not just her words. She was so thankful for the many family members and friends that filled her life, and one way she showed this was through her famous habit (skill, talent, obsession…whatever you want to call it) of sending cards, notes, and letters on anniversaries, graduations, weddings, and birthdays. Sometimes she sent a letter “just because.” She probably wrote thousands of cards and letters throughout her life, and although I have an equally famous reputation for dramatic histrionics, I’m not exaggerating.

When I was with her this past Christmas, I sat down beside her bed to file her nails. I took her hand in mine, and as the fingers of our left hands intertwined, I was struck by how similar our hands looked. It was almost like filing the nails on my own hand, and I began to remember how many times I have heard people say, “Rachel, you look just like your Mom.” In that moment I was so full of gratitude for her hand of influence in shaping my life. As I worked, I began to reflect on the kinds of things those hands had done; the letters written, babies rocked, construction paper projects made for 2 and 3-year-olds’ Bible class, the dishes washed (she stubbornly washed her dishes by hand in case you didn’t know), the baby blankets she embroidered, the rolls folded over and pinched into that perfect moon-shaped pillow of southern buttery goodness.

I could go on and on with an endless list of the things about her that I am so, so thankful for. Whether you knew her for 33 years or three years, you are here today because you are thankful for my Mom, Grace, in some way, and so this comforts us today. And while I have to admit that I am still very angry at the cancer that has taken her away from us, I know that eventually I will be able to allow my gratitude to bury my anger just like she taught me.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.


  1. As beautiful today as when it was delivered. Thank you, Rachel, for posting this.

  2. Thanks for reading, Susan! And thank you for loving Mom too.

  3. Iisha7:03 AM

    I'm not sure you know how much your mom meant to me Rachel, but I loved her dearly and always felt she was really my second mom. I've missed her in these last years and still have all the letters, notes, and cards she ever sent to me. Thank you for sharing this. She was wonderful....

  4. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Rachel, Your beautiful words honor a beautiful woman. No one, not even God, can fill the hole left in your life by her passing, but that's the way it should be; otherwise, she would be replaceable. I believe the words of First Corinthians: "Love never dies." Your mother's love for you lives, and, I believe, that she still feels your love for her.
    Beth VanRheenen

  5. Beth, thank you so much for reading. I'm honored.