Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eulogy For Edna

Today we buried my mother in law next to her beloved husband, John. They are buried in Calvary cemetery. Right behind their graves is the enclosure wall of the Carmelite nuns. It is a great spot to be laid to rest. My sons were pallbearers and I was asked to give a eulogy. We were all honored to do these things. Here are the words I shared about this wonderful woman.

This past Sunday, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, Edna passed from this life. My father in law, John, once made a statement to his daughters about Edna that has become something of a family joke. He said, “Girls, your mother swims upstream”. True to those words and the words of the poet Dylan Thomas, she did not “go gentle into the good night”. The last couple of weeks were difficult but in her final moments she surrendered and surrounded by Denise, Pam, and Judy, she left this world in peace. I was also blessed to be in the room at the time of her passing and earlier in the day I was able to have my time alone with her. I gently held her hand and thanked her for everything she had done for me and everyone else. I prayed with her and told her we would all be fine and that she could let go and be with John. She must have heard me because she died a little while later.

I have been part of the Clements family for over 35 years. From the very beginning Edna embraced me and treated me more like a son than a son in law. She had a smile that would light up a room and a heart as big as life. If our family life together was a movie, John may have been the producer but Edna was the director. She was the real go to person if there was a problem. We knew she was the power behind the throne. This tradition has continued with Denise, Pam, and Judy. They are strong women. If you doubt it, ask their husbands.

Looking backwards over time my mind is filled with memories of life being celebrated. Edna was a hostess beyond compare and boy could she cook! I always preferred eating at her house more than any restaurant. I was overweight most of the time that she cooked on a regular basis. I did not begin to lose weight until she moved into an assisted living home and stopped cooking. We had family dinners that were legendary, not only for the quality of the food and the consumption of wine, but for their length and capacity for laughter and deep discussions. Admittedly, they were curtailed at one point with Edna’s proclamation of “No more Stingers’”! Before that day we had worn out several blenders and emptied many bottles of brandy and crème de menthe.

In addition to the intimate family dinners, I have memories of large Christmas parties for friends and extended family to say nothing of the wonderful weddings that John and Edna provided for all of us. Whatever the occasion, there was Edna with her captivating smile, her humor, and her magnificent hospitality. It is said that everyone has a gift. Edna’s gift may have been the gift of taking care of everyone and making sure they were happy. If Edna was around, your needs were met. Never content with providing one dessert at a meal, Edna would provide three!

Certainly, Edna was a great wife and a wonderful mother. As the husband of one of her daughters I could not have found a better mother in law. In addition to these roles, she was also a wonderful grandmother to my sons, Mike, Jr. and Nick, as well as Rick and Pam’s daughters, Chelsea and Christy. My own granddaughter, Chloe, called her the “old grandma” and loved to sit in her lap. Chloe made one visit to the hospital recently and while there got in the bed with Edna. During other visits in the past they would play peek a boo and both would laugh.

In her final years Edna was sometimes sad. She never got over John’s death five years ago. In spite of this there were still good times. Denise and I would pick her up and take her to the Cracker Barrel for dinner. I still kidded with her on a regular basis and I often made her laugh. Judy appears to have inherited Edna’s gift for cooking and in recent years our Thanksgiving feasts have been created in Judy’s kitchen using Edna’s recipes. Our Christmas Eve’s have been at Pam’s house and every Christmas morning Denise and I would bring Edna to our house, a house where she lived for many years.

I know I am not alone when I say that Edna will be missed. Her passing is the end of an era for our family. However, all of us take comfort knowing that her earthly suffering and sadness are over. We take comfort in our belief that she is now with John and all those she loved in life who preceded her in death. Her life was a life lived well. She loved greatly and was also greatly loved and she has left a huge footprint on our hearts. We are sad today but we will forever have our memories of her to bring a smile to our lips and laughter to our hearts. She would want us to continue what we have always done…celebrate life.

1 comment:

bryansherwood said...

Beautifully said!