Below is the eulogy I delivered at my mom’s funeral today, January 18th, 2012. This is not the full text of exactly what I said because I added a few things while I was talking, but this is most of it. 

My mom almost named me Sara. Sara Leas. It would have been a lot of pressure to be a much better baker. Instead, she named me after her grandmother, Catherine and called me Katie.

I was her second child. My brother, Brian, was born 2 years earlier, with dark hair, and without webbed feet. I used to think my brother was my mom’s favorite, but I eventually realized that it wasn’t about favorites. He was her first baby – he made her a mother. And being a mother was something she cherished deeply.

Growing up, she read to us. She hugged us. She let us drink pop, but not eat sugary cereal.

How do you pay tribute in 2-4 minutes to the person who nourished, nursed, and nurtured you?

On Friday night, when the news was fresh, I immediately thought of the things we would never do together, things mothers cherish about having a daughter: we would never pick out my wedding gown, she would never see a grand child, she would never feel the kick of my baby inside of me. I would never be able to ask “did you feel this/think this/feel this when you were pregnant with me?”

And then I tried to remember everything about her. Every little morsel that was her.

She loved music. She was disappointed that she never got to meet John Denver.

My mom was smart. She believed in education and she was a good teacher.

She was witty. God knows my affinity for puns came from somewhere and it was not from my dad.

She was a little naughty and sassy. You can see it even some of her childhood photos.

She was faithful. She believed in God.

She adored Bob.

She often ate a bag of popcorn or a giant plate of broccoli for dinner – with Butter Flavored Pam and salt when she was a staff nurse working 12 hour shifts (which were more like 13 for her because she was so conscientious)

In some of my last conversations with my mom she spoke of her hopes for her children (she did this often). She was excited that I’d been thinking about moving back to the heart of the city because it meant we’d be closer, and she spoke about her love for her husband, Bob, and his love for her.

I know her body – the body that hugged me when I was sad or scared, the body that worked long hours to keep a roof over our heads, the body that swelled and broke with life to bring my brother and me into this world, the body that housed a most tender and loving spirit and heart – her body, my mom’s body, has stopped.

But, she will never leave me.

She is every breath I’ve ever taken. Every tear I’ve ever cried (even those, okay especially those – cried at sappy Hallmark commercials.) She is every off-key note I’ve ever sung (and there are lots) and every kindness and love I’ve ever shown.

Last year, I was struggling at work and I knew I needed a change. Though I was terrified I knew I could make it through because my mom loved me.

Even though she did not work outside the home in her last years she still had an occupation. She had 3 in fact. Her first was that of Eileen, lover of knowledge and the written word. Her second was wife and love to Bob. And her third was mother.

Her love will never leave.

7 thoughts on “Eileen’s Song”

  1. Katie,

    Your eulogy was so well written and delivered. I know Mom would have been as proud of you as I am.

  2. Katie,

    That was so beautiful..Tears welled up in my eyes right away. I know it must have taken an incredible amount of strength to get up and read that. I know she must be so proud! What a touching tribute to her life!! Take care Katie girl…

  3. Katie,
    Thanks so much for sharing. Your love for your Mom is heard and felt with every word. I know Brian echos your thoughts. Jean, Stephanie and I love you and are so proud of you, Bob and Brian & Beth.

  4. Katie,
    How absolutely beautiful! I knew you and Brian when you were little, being good friends with dear Eileen. Somehow we all lost touch, but reading this gives me a window into your relationship with your mom and brother and Bob and I’m so glad you all had each other. I know Eileen must have been so very proud of you. Although she is not here on earth anymore, she will always be with you.
    With love and care,
    Cheryl Graham

  5. Beautiful, Katie. I feel proud and grateful to have been able to hear you deliver this in person. You put words to so much that we all feel about your mom (and some things that are just yours). Thank you.

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