Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Few Words in Tribute

Last week as my siblings and I planned my mom's funeral, the hardest task was deciding what to focus on in our talks. There's so much to say about her! My mom requested that each of her children speak at her funeral. When she first told me, I thought "How in the world can I do that? I'll be a blubbering mess!" I have to say, it was an honor to do it and I am grateful she gave me the chance to share a few words in tribute of her. Below are the thoughts I shared:

My Mom: A Legacy to Uphold

"My mom is beautiful, thoughtful, sweet, heartfelt, humble, confident, strong, intelligent, accomplished, driven, lovely, graceful, and kind. She possesses the characteristics of Christ. Throughout her life, she taught me by example the qualities of Christ and the joy that comes from making them a part of your life. She emulated the Savior all her life and I have been greatly blessed by her. Like Nephi of old, I too have been born of goodly parents.

The day my mom passed away, I felt the need to let everyone who knew her know of her passing. I know my mom affected many people during her life on earth, and I know that I can’t name that number. It will be infinite. As I made a post on my blog about her passing, the title that immediately came to my mind was 'A Legacy to Uphold.' My mom made a profound impact of goodness on me as she has on all of you. She and I have always had a special bond. We are best friends. We are both the youngest daughters in our families and she always told me that that was a special place to be. I remember her telling me time and again that when I was born, she felt I was special, especially to her. My mom made everyone feel special. She knew and understood her own divine nature and for that reason, she was able to see it in others and teach them of their own divinity. This attribute drew people to her because they felt something different in her. What they felt was the pure love of Christ.

The scripture Moroni 7:45 defines my mom: 'And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things…charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.'

There is an old children’s book my mom has had forever. One of my favorites was the story of Sun and Wind. To paraphrase – Sun and Wind saw a man walking down the street and decided that they would see who could get the man to take off his jacket. Wind went first and he blew as hard as he could to force the man to take it off. Despite what Wind thought, the man held on to his coat tighter each time Wind blew. Finally, it was Sun’s turn. Sun cleared the skies with his rays and shone so brightly and warmly that the man immediately shed his coat voluntarily. Sun was much more powerful in influencing the man walking down the street because of his warmth and gentleness. It is the same of the Savior and it is the same of my mom. People wanted to be in her presence because she made them feel good, just as the Savior does to us when we turn to Him.

She has always been an equal to me. It didn’t matter what my concerns were or what my rambling conversations were about, she was thoroughly engaged in everything I did. One of the things I’ve cherished about her throughout my life is that she is an excellent listener. I remember talking the entire way to Lake Powell none stop as a very young child. I’d sit on the middle console between my parents in front of the A/C and talk and talk and talk. My mom would lovingly listen to me despite the fact that my siblings in the back complained they were hot and tired of my chatter. I’d read billboards to her as we ran errands around town when I was learning to read and her response was always of excitement at what a great reader I was. There were numberless days after school and nights before going to bed, and hours on road trips and vacations talking with her about anything and everything. And she’d listen! She listened to all my unimportant, melodramatic childhood and teenage life experiences. She listened and comforted me when I called her 3 days after moving to college sobbing because I was homesick. She listened and she comforted and she inspired me to move forward. The way she connected with me was like she was right there alongside me in it all. Everything I did and said was incredibly important to her. She taught me that everything I did and said was also incredibly important to Heavenly Father as well. Morning and evening prayers were standard with her. When I was little I was impressed by how long she could pray, but as I grew I realized that she had long prayers because she knew she was important to Heavenly Father. By her example I learned I was important to Him too.

My mom understood the Plan of Salvation and the important role of womanhood. The divinity of womanhood and motherhood was something my mom understood deeply and expressed in word and deed. In her callings in Young Womens and the Relief Society, her goal was to help all women realize their importance, divine nature, and power within them. One thing she always taught me about my divine nature was that 'girls are for pretty.' Shopping was my mom’s favorite hobby. During my childhood I remember shopping until my legs ached. I did not like shopping. I’m 25 years old and it’s taken my mom 25 years to teach me the ropes with shopping : how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, and to convince me that it was something I could love as much as she did. Well, in 25 years she succeeded. During the last 6 months or so, she and I went shopping every Tuesday night. It was a privilege and a blessing. I helped her shop and she helped me shop and we both came out very successful. I can’t tell you how excited she got after a successful shopping excursion! On our way home with our treasures she’d smile and pat my leg and say “we did pretty good, didn’t we? I think you’re beginning to like this.” She’s made sure I’ve had the perfect outfit (from head to toe) for special occasions my entire life. Classy and beautiful is her style.

My mom has had many passions throughout her life. Nothing was worth doing unless she did it well. Of all her passions, motherhood was her greatest passion of all and I was a beneficiary of it. I don’t know what I did to be blessed by such an amazing mom. I’ve loved our shopping excursions, our more than daily conversations, frequent lunch dates and dinners, her wise words and comfort that only she could give, her hugs, her laugh, her smile, her sparkling eyes, her surprises, and her friendship. President David O. McKay said, 'Motherhood is the greatest potential influence for good in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the … young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.' My mom gave me all the love she had. She told me often how much she loved me and I told her often how much I love her. She taught me what it means to be a mother in Zion. I look forward to the days with my future children when I can follow her example and be the mother to them that she has been to me.

In Matt. 19:26 it reads 'with God all things are possible.' I could also change that to say, 'with my mom, all things were possible.' Her life was a testimony of this in both scenarios. If there was anything she thought she or her children should do, she made a way for it to happen. It was known in our house that if we wanted something, you didn’t go to Dad, you went to Mom. A great example of this was when I had the chance to go to Jerusalem on Study Abroad. I anticipated going most of my life, so when the Jerusalem Center reopened in 2007, I called my mom excitedly telling her that I wanted to go and asked if we could make it work. She said of course! I asked my dad and he told me no. I was heartbroken until I talked to my mom a few minutes later when she said, 'Don’t worry, just apply and when you get accepted, we’ll make it work.' And did work out! It always did when my mom said it would. My mom could move mountains. Through her optimism and faith, she taught me that all things are possible, especially with God.

My mom possesses so many good attributes that it is difficult to know which ones to talk about in the short time we have here. How do you commemorate a life as significant and good as hers in an hour? You can’t. As I think about all the things I admire and love about my mom, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to commemorate her goodness is to carry it on and pay it forward. The Savior commanded, 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'

I believe my mom was perfect. And if she wasn’t, she is as close to perfect as a person can be in this life. I feel privileged to be her daughter and blessed to be her friend. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice so that my family can be eternal. I am grateful for the testimony and life of my mom and that we got to spend 25 years of our lives together. I know I will be with her again and I know she will continue to help me along my journey even if it’s from the other side. I love you with all my heart, Mom. God be with you, we will meet again."


Dorothy said...

So beautiful, Heather. I'm very sorry for your loss. I have something I'd like to bring by your house tonight - will you email me your address?

Dasha said...

I loved reading this. The part about shopping made me laugh- your mom definitely taught you well cause I never see you looking anything less than fabulous.

melissa said...

Heather, this is so beautiful. It makes me miss both of you! I wish I could have been there to hear you and your family talk, but I was there in spirit. What a blessing to know that we WILL see your wonderful mother again. We think of you often and send our love.

Jessica said...

Heather I'm so glad I found your blog! That was so beautiful and I totally cried like a baby, and then I decided I wanted to be a better mom just like your mom. Thank you for sharing that with us.