Friday, July 29, 2016

Eulogy for Lonnie

This is the eulogy I delivered for my Mom. Her funeral was today, July 29th, 2016. 

A wise man once said, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered to get through this thing we call life.”

How does one summarize a life?

I'm not sure. So I won't attempt to summarize sixty-nine years in only a few minutes. Instead, I will give some highlights from Mom's life.

Her favorite books were Lonesome Dove, and The Thornbirds. She loved the music of The Bee-Gees, Hall and Oates, and Prince (hence the reference). She drank more tea than the entire population of Great Britain. Her favorite movies were The Deer Hunter, Gone With the Wind, and The Bishop's Wife. She loved Tom Selleck. Anything Tom Selleck. We used to watch Blue Bloods together, and the Jesse Stone movies.  

And Mom had a fondness for knicknacks and any food that contained sugar—believe me. She could also cook a mean steak, and taught me the secret of great pork chops; which my vegetarian friends will never know.

When I was a child she'd borrow my Walkman, and sing along with The Eagles, and Neil Diamond. I think about her every time I hear Desperado, as she loved that song. When I saw the Eagles in concert, she asked me if they'd played it. They did, at the end of each show. I wish she could have seen them too.

When I was a kid, I couldn't imagine life without her. When her own mother died, I saw it as a harbinger. It made death real to me. I knew then that one day I'd be without her. I was afraid not only of my own mortality, but the world itself. I remember freaking out when I saw a National Geographic with a photo of a shattered globe on the cover. I became deathly afraid of death at that time, and so Mom took me aside to talk to me.

She said, “God made this world, and everything in it. He'd not take it away from us.”

She showed me a flower, I don't remember which kind, and she said, “My mom told me, 'You see this flower? Beautiful things like this are in the world. A flower can die, but new flowers will grow. They will keep on growing.”

She was right. Flowers die each season, only to be reborn again and again. I will only have one mother. But there will always be mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. There will be children born, who will hopefully grow up. They too will die, and new children will be born. These new children will experience what same fundamental experiences; birth, love, childhood, adulthood, and death. Maybe they will have children, maybe not. These are experiences will all share. Mom experienced all of them.

Eventually, we are all taken into eternity. In the words of Prince, “That's a mighty long time.” It sure is. I only knew Mom for thirty-seven years. That's nothing compared to eternity. When I was a child, thirty-seven years seemed like centuries. Instead, it has happened in mere months. Even if Mom lived to be one-hundred, it'd still be a blink in the eye of God.

Speaking of God: I don't know what happens when we die. I believe in an afterlife, but I can't say what it is. I can't even say what God really is. All I know is that Mom's soul was released to continue a very long journey; one we must all face some day. We all had complex relationships with Mom. But the one thing I do know for certain is that she was my Mom. Part of why I'm here is because of her. I wouldn't be me if she wasn't my mother.

Maybe the lesson I take from her is that the world isn't black and white. We should see it in a spectrum.

And I'd like to read her favorite Bible verse now. Ecclesiastes chapter 3. 

1 There is a time for everything,
 and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Family members thanked me for the eulogy. I was surprised how well I did. I'd not written one of these before. I didn't really know what to say, as my mind was a jumble of memories. I just tweezed out what I could, as I wanted to keep it brief. I think I did alright.

Text copyright Riley Joyce 2016


  1. I really like your memories. Also what your Mom said about death. Like you I am really not sure what comes after death. On the other hand: We as humans ..every single one of us: We are so complicated with our feelings and hopes and sorrows ... and that should be just last for 70, 80 or maybe 90 years on Earth ?
    Deep in me says a voice: NO. There must be more for US.

    1. I agree, Kerstin. As I wrote, even 100 years is not enough. I don't think our experiences end with death. Like the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon; we have only just begun.