NOTE: Please keep in mind that this was written to be spoken, so there are constructs and punctuation that aren’t exactly legit (not that I could see the punctuation through my tears).
I’ve been struggling with what to say today. When I did this 27 years ago following my brother’s passing, it was clear what to do: tell a few funny Scott stories and try to lessen the pain of the moment. But I couldn’t decide what approach to take for Mom. Did I want to recall humorous episodes or muse on how much Mom meant to me?
I was so torn that at first I thought I’d simply be a spectator today. But the outpouring of love for Mom, and the love and support shown to me by my friends these past few days has been so amazing that I realized I had to say something. But what?
And then I realized: the outpouring of love and support that I’ve witnessed this week was a reflection of the love and support and joy that Mom had been giving out her whole life. To EVERYONE in her life. What she’d put out into the universe was now coming back ten-fold to her family and friends. And to me.
Mom’s greatest attribute was her unbounded capacity to embody love and joy. As I’ve spent the past few evenings scanning photos of Mom, the one thing that struck me is how happy she is in every single photo. Her loving kindness JUMPS out of the photos.
We all have memories of Mom’s joyous energy and how with that energy she enabled us to surpass even our own expectations. It was the love and joy that she brought to her career that made her so beloved in what can be a pretty tough industry. It was that love and joy that prompted her to support and encourage so many people in whatever endeavor they might undertake. And it was with the love and joy that she lived and embodied that she showed me how to be a better, happier person.
Mom never lectured. She didn’t preach. She didn’t mandate. That wasn’t her style. Instead, she’d share her thoughts and let me sort things out for myself. She led by quiet example, living a life full of optimism. Optimism. How many people remember her phone-call sign-offs? Do you remember? “Onwards and upwards!”
So I was going to say that that joy, that optimism, is what I’m going to miss about Mom. But upon seeing friends last night I realized that I’m not going to miss those things at all because I’m going to inculcate that joy into MY life. To BE the person that Mom modeled for me every day of my life. The ease with which she loved, the joy she embodied…these are traits that I’m going to make core to MY life going forward. Not necessarily as a tribute to Mom, but rather because I believe that all along she was trying to show me how to live a happier, better, more fulfilling life. Always giving…that was Mom. She spent her entire life showing me, and everyone else, a better way to live.
It’s that joy and optimism and love, clearly, that prompted Mom to leave her engagement ring…to me. I love that. Think about that for just a second and you’ll see the humor — but also, again, the love and hope and optimism — in her act.
It’s that love and hope and joy and optimism that I’m going to seek to make the key part of the rest of my life. Being a happier, better person is the least this unapologetic mama’s boy can do to say “thank you” and “I love you” to his mother.