Saying Goodbye to “Doris from Devon”

My mum’s name was Dorena. Not Doris. But she was from Devon, as the north side of Fredericton used to be called back in the day. “Doris from Devon” was a handle she adopted as a joke when, at age 87, she started reading my blog.

Mum passed away a few months ago, in May, just shy of her 96th birthday. But we waited until her birthday month, August, to hold a memorial service for her. Partly because that time lapse allowed us to come to terms with the utter shock of her not unexpected passing.

I know, I know that doesn’t make sense. We knew she was getting more and more frail, less and less mobile, until she had lost almost every aspect of her independence, except her independence of mind. Somehow we expected her to rally. Somehow. Somehow we were shocked when she didn’t.

Holding her service in August allowed us all to be there. Children, step-children, grandchildren, spouses of the above, great-grandchildren, and even two tiny great-great-grandchildren. Nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbours, friends, even Mum’s favourite bookstore owner showed up to say good-bye to Dorena, aka Doris from Devon.

Dorena from Devon at 18. Winter 1945

I read the eulogy at Mum’s service.

I stressed and stressed before writing it. How could I capture Mum? How could I walk the fine line between being funny and a bit irreverent and being disrespectful? A eulogy for Mum that was not at least a little funny would be somehow inappropriate. How could I honour who she was and what she had overcome and achieved without becoming sentimental or sappy. She would hate sappy. How could I follow the Sullivan tradition of jokes and fond funny remembrances at funerals? I kept thinking of the reception at my grandfather Sullivan’s funeral when my uncles and my mum gathered in the kitchen swapping funny stories about Grampy of which my grandmother, who was sitting in the livingroom with the priest, would not approve.

Anyway. I finished it a few days before Hubby and I left for New Brunswick and then, I swear, I did not sleep a wink until after it had been read. This is what I wrote.

Warning” by Jenny Joseph

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.”

This poem by Jenny Joseph always, always reminds me of Mum. 

Okay, so she didn’t wear purple much. 

Or spend her pension on brandy and summer gloves. Maybe an excess of flowers for her garden. Maybe a pair of gardening gloves. But no brandy. Unless it was for a fruitcake. She never bought satin sandals. Or wore a red hat. Except there was that pink “Burpee Drilling” one she wore gardening. 

Photo by Tammy Deschenes.

She didn’t run her stick along the “public railings” like a little kid. But she did swear when she got her stick caught in her shopping cart. People around us always laughed when that happened. Why is it that everyone seems to laugh when a ninety-year-old swears in public? 

Mum didn’t wear her slippers in the rain. 

She did not spit. 

And despite all the things in this poem that she did not do, I’ve always thought that it embodies Mum’s spirt. Her refusal to give up, give in, or do what she was told. If anyone dared try to tell her what to do, that is. 

That indomitable spirt never deserted her right up to the end. But I’m not here to talk about the end. More about the beginning and the middle.

Mum was the youngest daughter of three, born in 1927, just before the deluge of five brothers who followed. There was less than a year between her and Uncle Buddy. Irish twins they call them. 

She suffered from rheumatic fever at age 14 the consequences of which never left her. Lost her sister at age 16. Married at 18, became a mother at 19, 21, and 23. Was widowed at 23. Married again, had me, was separated and divorced, spent 8 years alone raising her 4 kids. Then married Lloyd and became a wife again and a step-mother. A farm wife, a gardener, a tractor driver, then a grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. And a widow again. 

Mum and Lloyd on their wedding day, June 1970.

But all those titles, mum, wife, widow don’t speak to the person mum was. Or to the person we thought she was. 

When I was teaching I used to talk to kids about themes of “identity.” Who are we? How we are so many different people throughout our lives. How different people see us differently from each other and different again from how we see ourselves. How we become someone different over time and circumstance.  

So who was Mum really? Was she defined by her skills of which there were so many? Best doughnut maker in the universe. Best baker, actually. Her pies were sublime. Her fruitcake legendary. Maker of so many things: jams, preserves, pickles … Seriously, if something grew on the old farm she picked it, froze it, preserved it, and otherwise fed it to Lloyd. And to us.

She knit, made dolls, refinished furniture, painted, papered, made pillows and curtains… you name it, she tackled it. She was never, ever daunted by hard work or the fact that she didn’t know how to do something. She looked it up, figured it out, and set about doing it. 

One winter she took a course on making wedding cakes. Lloyd ate a fully-decorated practice wedding cake every week that winter. And never complained. Ha. Then she made both Connie’s and my wedding cakes. 

Decorating Connie’s wedding cake, 1977.

My favourite story about Mum tackling something unknown was when she was widowed the first time at age 23. She and Terry, Carolyn and Connie were living in a little house with no indoor plumbing in Aroostook Junction, and she decided to freshen things up by painting the livingroom ceiling. Red. Her friend and next-door neighbour warned her, but she’d bought the paint cheap, so she persisted. A day or so later the friend arrived and was surprised to find Mum back up the ladder, repainting the ceiling… white. She said when she was finished the ceiling felt as if it was sitting on top of her head. So she redid it. 

That was so like Mum. Try it. Mess up. Try something different. 

One winter when we were both knitting a lot she drove me crazy unravelling yards and yards of yarn, because she’d found a mistake. The sweater needed a redo. “All that work!” I remember wailing. 

So maybe Mum wasn’t defined by her skills, so much as by her determination to master them. 

In her seventies she learned to drive the tractor. Finally, finally she was a driver. 

We used to laugh about Mum deciding every once in a while that she “would drive, darn it.” She’d passed her test back in the fifties and never let her license lapse. Just never utilized it because she was so nervous. One day in the early seventies when she’d been practising in the driveway, our elderly neighbour Eva Burgess called from across the road and said, “Dorena did you mean to park the car in the strawberry patch?” 

When she was 79 we bought her a treadmill because she said she wanted to keep fit. It was Carolyn’s idea. I was worried at first that we’d have to get her a helmet. But no, she loved it. She’d put on her dedicated treadmill slippers with the rubber soles, crank up Eddy Arnold on the ghetto blaster, and exercise. 

At age 84 she learned to use the computer. She was tickled that she was so “with it” as she said. She emailed, googled recipes, and read my blog faithfully, then she’d call me to comment on what I’d written about.

Reading my blog, 2016. Photo by Connie Lagerlöf

She said if she were to leave a comment on the actual blog her handle would be “Doris from Devon.” I have no idea where the Doris came from. One day after I’d written a post on consumerism and how we all buy things we don’t need, I’d asked readers to enumerate how many pairs of shoes they owned. Mum called me and said: “Doris from Devon” here. Just read your blog post, and I want to report: Two pairs, both black, didn’t count my slippers.” And from then on, she was “Doris from Devon” whenever she talked to me about my blog.

At age 85 Mum took out a 25 year mortgage, bought her own little mini-home, and paid it off a year ago, just shy of her 95th birthday. 

Mum never saw herself as others saw her.  For instance, she could NOT understand why people thought she was funny. But she was. 

She couldn’t understand why as teenagers we thought she was all seeing, all knowing. I still remember the time when I was fifteen, she sat chatting in my room with my friend Debbie and me as we prepared for a night out. She had two cigarettes in her hand and when she went downstairs she left them behind on my dresser. We did NOT touch those cigarettes. For weeks. Although we could ill afford to pass up free cigarettes. We knew they were a plant to see if we would take the bait. Years later I found out she’d just forgotten them.

After we all left home Mum took up flower gardening. And this became her great passion. Her flowers were legendary. She read books about them and tried new things. Lloyd hauled the manure, and she wielded her grub hoe. I’m still not sure what a grub hoe is but she loved hers. 

Mum and her prized peonies. Photo by Ida Duplessis

But even Mum’s many skills and hard work do not tell the full story of Mum. I mean if one can ever really tell someone else’s full story. 

Mum could be a little excitable. In case you hadn’t noticed that. Around birds and bats in particular. 

One weekend Mum and I drove Lloyd’s car up to visit Nana Knowles in Aroostook. I drove. We hit a crow on the highway, at sixty miles an hour. It landed square in the middle of our windshield. Bloody, deader than a doornail. Wings spread, looking in at us. Mum shrieked, “Flick it off Susie. Flick it off!” I tried to extricate it, swerved the car from side to side, then turned on the wipers. Big mistake. All that blood. More shrieking followed.  

Mum was full of contradictions. 

She loved clothes but never had the money to buy what she really wanted. Later when money was not so tight, she lost the urge. And lived vicariously through our wardrobes. 

When she was older she gave up housework almost entirely. She’d lost interest. So she gardened, painted, and read… and scolded me over the phone for not doing enough of my own housework. 

Mum could be fearless. And yet in some ways she was defined by the trauma she faced in her life, and at times she was filled with fear. The year before Stu and I married, Mum finally tackled some of her fears and went for counselling to overcome what had become crippling agoraphobia and panic attacks. And when she went to Ottawa the summer of our wedding, we ate out in crowded restaurants (she hadn’t done this in years), shopped till we dropped, even rode the three-story escalator all the way to the top at a nearby mall. And when she’d become flustered she’d say, just leave me alone, and she’d do her deep breathing, and in a minute or two she’d be fine. I remember feeling so much admiration, first, that she’d reached out for help, and second that she overcame so much. 

Mum could always surprise us. 

She loved music. Old hymns like “How Great Thou Art.” And classics like “Everybody Loves Somebody” by Dean Martin. But did you know that her favourite band was Doug and the Slugs? Me either until she called me one day and said how much she liked “those boys.” 

Sometime in her eighties she started doling out hugs. She hugged family, friends, neighbours, even the shy young man at the bank. She’d say “Doctor Oz says you need a hug for your heart.”

She really surprised me one morning. When I called, she was upstairs in the old house and talked to me on the extension which sat in the hall. She’d been changing the beds. Getting ready to do a wash. And before she got dressed she went down the hall to fetch the clean sheets from the back bedroom. In the nude. And she’d been swanning around doing her upstairs housework in the same state. “Mum!” I gasped. “What?” she replied. “It’s very freeing you know, Susie.” Nude-bed-making. Bet you never knew that one. Maybe I should have titled this “a few things you never knew about mum.”   

I know I’ve left out so many stories. And that many of you have your own stories of Mum. Your own perspectives. 

I laughed out loud when I received a note of condolence from my cousin Mark in May and he said, “I have no one to yodel for me now.” Ha.  Mum’s yodelling when we were kids. I’d forgotten all about that.

Now, I want to come back to Jenny Joseph’s poem. “When I am old I shall wear purple…” But, she continues, when we’re not old we must be responsible, we must not swear in the street, and set good examples for the children. And then she says…

“But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”

So I think we should all practise at being old a little today. In honour of Mum. Wear purple. Swear a little. Swear in threes; Mum always swore in threes. Speak your mind. Tell someone what you don’t like about their hair. Ha. We all know she could do that. Hug people you don’t know. And people you do know. Hug everyone. Tell someone you love them. Tell them a story. In honour of Mum. 

In fact, tell someone your own story about mum. I think she’d like that. 

August 2021. Photo by Johnston Haynes

Everything went well on the day of Mum’s memorial: the service conducted by a family friend, the reception following it, and the gathering of family back at the house. Everything was wonderful, actually. And now we get on with the next era in all our lives.

To be honest it feels a bit freeing to not be worrying about Mum. For years after my stepfather died in 2008 she was on my mind most days. Was she happy, was she lonely, was she eating enough, did she have enough books to read, and later, would she fall getting out of bed, would her caregivers actually arrive or would they cancel and leave her to her own devices? My sister Carolyn being able to move in with Mum for the last year and a half of her life was a godsend. For all of us. But all that worry and anxiety is over now. And I feel a certain amount of guilty relief.

Mum was a force to be reckoned with. She was strong and smart. She was talented and funny. We loved her. But she was not always an easy person. Especially for those of us who were closest to her. At times in our lives my sisters and I have all felt ambivalent over our relationship with Mum. Not at the same time. It was like we tag-teamed being “good daughters.” And frankly those ambivalent times can make mourning quite complex.

One thing we learned from the celebration of Mum’s life is that none of us had the exact same relationship with her. Neighbours and friends, grand-children, spouses of children and grand-children, cousins, the guy who advised her at her bank… everyone had a slightly different interpretation of who Mum was. And I guess the key going forward is for each of us to mourn who she was to us. And at the same time to respect that our view may not, probably will not, be the same as someone else’s.

I have to admit I was thrilled that so many people approached me at the reception following Mum’s service to say they liked one particular part of my eulogy. They were listening, I thought. How great is that? One of Lloyd’s nieces said she was disappointed no one applauded. “We always applaud in my church,” she said. I loved that. And I particularly loved that my sister Connie’s former priest, who had attended as a guest, approached me as we were leaving to say how much he liked my eulogy. “Not too much?” I asked. “Not too many gestures?” I cannot speak without moving my hands. “It was perfect, he said, “with just the right amount of Irish embellishment.” Oh, that made me laugh. “What would a story be without a little embellishment, eh?” I replied.

You know, I’m a bit sad that my mum and I never got to make the “Doris from Devon Edits Her Closet” post we’d been planning. I mean we edited her closet several times over the last few years. Often when I’d have a closet editing post up, she’d call and say she wanted me to edit her closet when I came home. She’d sit up in bed after a nap, and I’d take everything out of her closet and drawers. We’d discuss each piece, make relevant piles, hang some things back up, fold other things into her drawers, pack the purged items into a bag, and then go have tea. Ha.

There’s always tea in my Mum stories, isn’t there? Mum may have been a changeable person. But there was always tea in the end.

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125 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to “Doris from Devon””

  1. How fitting to read this on a day that I am unpacking some of my mom’s possessions that I couldn’t part with when she died April 2022, the memories they hold. My daughter loved some and a niece was happy to take some. The bean pot that didn’t get much use because her baked beans were dreadful. Memories are all we need

    1. It’s lovely, Brenda, that your daughter and niece want something tangible to remember your mother by. I was touched that, at the funeral, my niece was wearing the brooch from the sixties that Mum gave her. And she was pleased that I noticed her wearing it.

  2. This is so beautiful and touching , I cried for you and I cried remembering my mom… thank for sharing.. I will treasure your words ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  3. Thank you for your post and for sharing the eulogy you wrote for your Mum.I especially loved reading the stories about her true grit and determination! And the picture of her with her beautiful peonies (they’re my “jam”).

    Your sense of relief/guilt must surely be familiar to so many (it is to me) who have cared for a parent (especially at a distance) with all the worries and sometimes frustration that go with that. The missing and memories all tied up with grief/relief/sadness at being “orphans”. It sounds like you and your family gave your Mum such a great send-off – thank you again for sharing some of it with us.

    And p.s. I meant to add that your Mum’s courage in taking on new challenges and facing and overcoming her fears is such a great reminder that change is always possible!

    1. I can empathise with that too. My father , widowed 5 years before, lived in Scotland, a good 7 hours drive from us and I never knew what to expect when I arrived. He would always have “slipped” just a little, but I would get used to that and as he waved me off each time I left, it was with a heavy heart that I would look back.
      The last time I left the house which had been my childhood home and now stood empty ready for its new owners, I could do it with a less heavy heart. Sad to know I might never see it or that farewell wave again, but somehow relieved too.

      1. Margaretanne Clinton

        Sue.
        Such a lovely set of memories and stories of your mother.
        It’s been sixteen years since my mother died. I sometimes still have something really funny to tell her, and pick up my phone to call her.
        Then , remember I can’t call mom.
        Thankyou for a sensitive beautifully written post.
        Margaretanne

        1. I’m sure that like you, Margaretanne, I’ll be wishing I could pick up the phone and tell Mum a funny story. I used to save them up in my mind to cheer her up these last few years. Or call her to share a funny memory.

      2. I feel your pain, Karen. For the past ten years, each time Hubby and I would leave to drive back to Ottawa, I’d cry a little and say “one day it will be the last time.” And then it was. What is funny is that my emotions after my step-father died were much less complex than when Mum died. Then again my relationship with him was more straightforward. Funny, that, isn’t it?

    2. Mum did love her flowers, especially, like you Chris, her peonies. So many emotions have been each taking their turn to be front and centre. Mum was an inspiration to us girls to not run from a challenge. Even if we are afraid, as I know she often was in her life.

  4. Jill Smith -Moore

    Beautiful post. You write wonderfully, Sue. Your mother had such an interesting life.
    I love listening to eulogies at funerals. There’s always so much more to know about a person and families are the ones privy to that knowledge in most cases. My mum died in May, 2018 aged 96 and my father in 1994 aged 81. She was 9 years younger than dad & so had many years without him to pursue life alone.

    1. Thank-you, Jill. Although sometimes Mum’s last years after my step-father died were difficult for her, I think she also enjoyed the freedom to just do whatever she wanted.

  5. Your eulogy made me feel like I knew your Mom. What a life. I’m so impressed she was able to get online at the age of 84.

    It’s not often when a celebration of life lives up to its name. This one sounded like it did.

    Hugs,
    Suzanne

  6. This is a beautiful tribute to your mum. I think all mother-daughter relationships have their strong and weak points in some way, don’t they? Condolences on your loss.

    1. Thanks, Deb. You are right. But sometimes, from the outside, relationships look as if it’s all fun times and drinking tea. I wanted to make sure I was honest about my relationship with Mum. Something I did not feel able to do when she was still living.

  7. Such a special post Sue … for many reasons. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. For you, your mum and all those close to her and for the memories this has recalled of my mum, who died twenty years ago … although it feels like yesterday that she was here.
    She also was a young widow who shared many of your mums qualities of perseverance and a keenness to try new things. She took driving lessons at almost sixty and according to her instructor she was a very competent driver … she just hated there being any other traffic near her!! I guess she may have possibly been fine in a field with a tractor lol but she couldn’t overcome her nervousness and actually drive a car.
    It’s lovely that you’ve included your mums eulogy… so honest, heartfelt and beautifully written. I imagine that her Celebration was filled with love and happy moments as well as a tinge of sadness. How wonderful that so many people could be there.
    Sending hugs across the ocean!
    Rosie

    1. Thank you, my friend. Too bad your mum did not have a big field and a tractor. One of my nieces said at Mum’s service that she was glad I mentioned the tractor driving; Mum was so proud of herself that she’d finally become a driver.

  8. Thank you for sharing that with us . Perfect . There won’t be a dry eye in the house today . Over the years of your blog & becoming your ‘ far away friend ‘ , I feel I have got to know your feisty mum a little . She always reminded me of my own mum , tough childhood , tough life but always fair , never bitter ( could be tricky at times though ) I’m just sorry I never got to sit & have a cuppa with her & enjoy her sense of humour . She’ll be much missed .

    1. Thank you my far-away friend. 🙂 Mum always said she felt like she knew you too, Wendy. I think your name on the blog was the inspiration for Doris from Devon.

  9. Perfection! I especially loved the photos, so well selected and interesting: the wedding day photo in the kitchen with Lloyd a gem and 18 year old Dorena in winter so touching in the light of what was to come. It was a life very well lived in spite of or because of tragedies and you have captured her can-do charm and energy so effectively. Using Jenny Joseph’s poem as a touchstone was inspired. Well done.

    1. That wedding day photo is how I like to remember Mum when I was a kid. Poor Lloyd did not know what he was getting himself into that day. Ha. My sister and I searched and searched for that darned picture. I’m so glad we found it.

  10. I love that kitchen wedding photo, so very much of its time. Made me nostalgic for the early 70s…excellent eulogy, Sue. Losing a mother is a profound loss, even if you know it is coming and looming large. I hope you are having a peaceful time and that the coming darker, colder months allow you to hunker down and gently grieve. I found that an enforced seclusion (the pandemic) was very beneficial, allowing my mind to wander and process. Most helpful.

  11. Such an emotional and beautiful story and eulogy,Sue…Doris from Devon was,in a way,part of our lives,too
    Love,
    Dottoressa

    1. Thank you, Dottoressa. Mum felt as if the regular commenters on the blog were a part of her life too. She was excited when I told her we’d be meeting you in Zagreb. 🙂

  12. I read this the day after saying goodbye to a beloved friend. Your eulogy reminded me of both her and my own Mom, two of the best ever to walk the earth. I may gripe about the aches and pains of aging, but the pain that walks with me every day is the pain of sayinig goodbye to loved ones. My heart gets softer every time and I’ve become quite a mush. Thank you for sharing this….off to dry my tears!

    1. Oh… I’ve been a pile of mush for weeks. Ever since I finally sat down to tackle the eulogy, through reunions with family and friends, actually reading the eulogy, more greetings with friends and family, then writing this post. Time for some shopping, I think, to calm things down. 🙂

  13. You touched my heart. Memories and stories are the lasting gifts we have from our parents. The house, the knickknacks, and bank accounts are just stuff that clutter the process of releasing our grief. Your eulogy was lovely, and was filled with your love for your mom. Thank you for sharing. Such a vulnerable time when we walk around hurting with our heart of our sleeve. Best

    1. Thanks, Kat. I love the memories, but I love the knickknacks too. Not all of them, mind. Just special ones that conjure up memories and stories.

  14. Thank you for a beautiful post. I’m teary reading it and relating in so many ways. Wonderful photos – especially of you and your sisters! I was just looking at a photo of me holding hands with my mom in 2019, just two weeks before she passed and I was reflecting on how much easier it is now to remember her.

  15. Wow what an incredible woman your mother was and what a truly beautiful tribute to her. Knowing she had such a full, rich and long life hopefully is a comfort to you and your family.

  16. Sue, What a writer you are. I enjoyed so much learning about your mum and admiring her spirit. I appreciated the nuance and humour that you included. It made me think of my maternal grandmother, who was of the same generation as your mum and shared some experiences in common. Specifically, it reminded me of the way she always got up and tried new things (with mixed results!), in the face of illness and disappointment, etc. There were challenges with her in her relationships, too, but she remains one of my favourite people I’ve known and a role model in so many ways.

    I hope the celebration of life and visits with family shored you up with strength in your grieving process. (PS You look beautiful in your purple linen dress.)

    1. Thank you, Stephanie. One day I may wrote about the challenges that Mum faced. There were so many. I never felt able to address them when she was living. She did not choose to remember, and did not like to be reminded.
      P.S. I laughed when I thought of the Jenny Joseph poem, and thought, “I know exactly what to wear!”

      1. I can understand why that would be difficult. It’s in the cracks and the difficulties that we know people, I think, but we also want to respect their private selves. I love that the poem guided your sartorial vision!

  17. xo, that’s all, bit emotional here. (you couldn’t have done a better eulogy for your mother. Beautiful!
    your friend from the other side of the country from Doris from Devon

  18. What a strong, brave, and engaged Mother you had – and what a full life she lived! Your eulogy about her is very beautiful, and had to be a delight to everyone present.
    I cried for your loss… which spilled-over into crying over my Mom. I too had sisters by my side, and we all have different stories that we can still remember and share with each other. You all look beautiful in purple. Wishing you all comfort in your happy memories of “Doris.”

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your Mum’s story with us. We (my sister, brother and I) lost my Mom last December at the age of 86. I think our mothers would have enjoyed each other’s company as they had so much in common. I miss her so very much. As I was reading this heartwarming story, I shed a few tears but also chuckled. So once again, thank you for sharing. It felt good 😊

  20. Thank you Sue for sharing the Eulogy you gave for your Mum’s Church service. It was truly beautiful and I like many of your friends shed a tear.

    1. Oh, we didn’t have a church service. Mum hadn’t belonged to any specific church for years. But she was a believer, so I did ask a family friend who went to school with my step-brother and me and who is a deacon in the Anglican Church to preside. It was lovely having someone we knew lead the service.

  21. I lost both my Mother and Stepmother. Each were very different in their personalities, in fact the only similarity they shared were their looks, my Dad had a type. Reading your beautiful eulogy made me stop and really think about each of these wonderful Women in a way I never had before. Thank you for that Sue.

  22. Such lovely memories and stories Sue. Thank you for sharing your wonderful words with us. I have enjoyed all your writings and experiences over the years and, like others here, feel like she was someone I knew. It did bring back memories of my own mom and I still have a lump in my throat with thoughts of both. I do think a celebration of life is a great thing where we can exchange many stories and pictures. Thank you for sharing with us.

  23. That was very moving. Your Mum lived quite a big life in her small way. Your writing, wow, it had all the things, love above all. Devon from Dover, yeah, it ain’t over till it’s over, and even then… Thanks for sharing this eulogy.

  24. Susan in Kelowna

    Thank you for sharing your eulogy with us, Sue. It was beautifully written and full of love. It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my own dear mum who passed away in 2017. My thoughts are with you and your family. Best wishes.

  25. Sue you’ve written a beautiful eulogy honouring your mom. It’s a very moving and thoughtful tribute.
    Thank you for sharing…these intimate family memories.
    Making the bed in the nude…I’ll give it a go 🙂
    If Doris from Devon can do it so can I

    Take care,
    Leslie

    Hostess of the Humble Bungalow

  26. Thank you for sharing this with us! I enjoyed becoming acquainted with your mum via your blog, and to be able to share in her send-off is a privilege.

    I completely understand relief being intertwined with grief. I am very involved in caring for my 93-year-old mom, and I anticipate experiencing the same mixture of feelings when she is no longer around.

  27. What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing the entire eulogy with us. We may not have known your Mum personally, but those of us who have been reading your blog for years feel as if we did, at least a little.

    Having lost both my parents (who were also in their 90s and living in a different province from me) in the past few years, I can very much identify with the “guilty relief” of no longer having to worry about them.

    Farewell, Doris from Devon! May you, Sue, and all your family be comforted by stories and memories shared.

    1. I am looking forward to not having that long trek by car twice a year. Or the frequent flights. And always returning home rather shattered from the stress. Not sure which was worse…all those trips, or not being able to go during the pandemic.

  28. HI Sue,
    Every mother is different. But you spoke to the universality of mothers, in honoring your mother. Like others, it made me think of my mother,with a mixture of love and sadness. Love in that she loved me unconditionally, and sadness for what she couldn’t share of herself. These women/mothers were from an era that limited their talents and dreams. That they made the best of it and in doing so made a path for us to achieve what we dreamed is remarkable

  29. Sue, this is a beautiful eulogy for your mum. I have tears in my eyes after reading your wonderful anecdotes about her. I felt almost as though I knew her, after reading your blog for the past few years. Your mum had such an interesting life and was such an intrepid person. Through all of life’s ups and downs, she learned and persevered, much like my own dear Mum who passed away so many years ago. Thanks for the memories!

  30. What a remarkable woman your mother was. Your eulogy was a lovely tribute to a life well lived. How wonderful to have so many family and friends around you to share memories of her and celebrate her life.

    1. It was remarkable that so many turned out to say goodbye to Mum. The funeral home was a bit worried that the event would be sparsely attended. Even some of my sisters’ and brother’s childhood friends showed up. And several of my high school chums although I haven’t lived in Fredericton in many years.

  31. It’s so interesting how siblings reflect on their memories of a parent. After my older brother and I were born, there was an eight year gap before they added five more to the family. We share stories that are completely new to each other. Your open and honest comments about your mother were refreshing to read. Maybe we finally see our parents as unique personalities in those final years. I saw so many glimpses of my mother as a 29 year old in her last years. She lived just shortly after her 90th birthday.

    1. I’ve read that each child is raised in an entirely different family…especially when there is a big age gap. I felt that with the five years between me and my next oldest sister.

  32. My mother will be 100 in October, she is losing ground most daily, it won’t be long before I will have to say goodbye to her too. I wish I could do it half as well as you have.

  33. Thank you for sharing the words of the eulogy, Sue. As a fan of your vlogs, I could hear your delivery in my head. What a sweet time for all as you gathered to share reflections of your mother’s life. May it continue to give you peace as you now move into this new season.

    1. After the initial stress of the spectre of doing the eulogy, I kind of enjoyed it. Especially the story-telling part. I was so glad that people enjoyed it and that they laughed in al the right places. 🙂

  34. Julie,Melbourne,Australia

    I really enjoyed your #sevendaysofmum on Instagram and now this post has truly touched me. You write so well and express your thoughts and observations in a measured yet honest way.I particularly relate to the ambivalence you mentioned about your relationship with your Mum. My Mum passed away 38 years ago so I will never know what it is like to have such a long relationship. You will always have the memories and the feeling of the love you have/had for her.
    Thank you for sharing the memorial service and snippets of your Mum’s life.
    PS I love your blog

  35. What a wonderful tribute to your mum, Sue! She had a life well lived, just as it should be, full of both challenges and successes, and a wonderful ability to keep trying new things and not not be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them – we can all take inspiration from this. I appreciate that you shared the complications of your relationship with your mom – our love for our family isn’t always easy, but hey: it isn’t easy to be a human, right? At least, this is what my moody 12 yr old tells me regularly, and I think she’s on to something! I’m sure all of your readers will be reflecting upon our own mothers, and for some, our role as mothers, after reading your post today.

  36. What a wonderful eulogy Sue. I love that you all wore purple.

    I’m glad that you had a little time to process things before you had your Mom’s service. I think that can help in so many ways: time to deal with shock and grief, time to plan things and gather people who would want to be there. I also think it can help you enjoy the service, inasmuch as you can actually do that.

    I love the photo of your Mom with her peonies. They are stunning flowers and she looks so happy. Her hat is great!

    1. I didn’t do a very good job of getting the “wear purple” message out there. But a few of us did. We DID enjoy the service, you know. And the reception, and the whole day. I was so happy that we did.

  37. Your eulogy was lovely. Having a memorial service a few months after the event is a very good idea.

    I really appreciate your honesty about “guilty relief” and the complex relationship we have with our parents. I have a mother disappearing with dementia in LTC and a father who is 90, still living in the family home. Watching a slow decline of our loved ones, is hard on everyone. It will be sad but also a “guilty relief” for me when they are gone. I often wondered if I was the only person who felt that way! Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.
    Susan

    1. My closest friend’s mum has dementia. She is kind of used to her mum not knowing her now, but she said the first couple of times it was like a knife in her heart. Sending virtual hugs.

  38. Beautiful!! Your Mum would have been very pleased. I lost my Mum seven years ago in her 99th year so I can relate to so much of your post. We did not have a funeral (her request) but we did have a celebration of her life and although she had survived all of her friends, the whole family from across the country was in attendance. My son gave a eulogy and captured her. Thank you for sharing your Mum with us. She sounds wonderful.

  39. Sue–
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful mother and wonderful eulogy with us. Makes me miss my mother and am inspired by your mother’s amazing figure it out nature.
    You did an amazing job paying tribute to her,
    Beth

    1. Thanks, Beth. Mum was a “MacGyver” before there was a MacGyver. Especially redecorating with paper and paint, dyes, cheap fabric, and whatever was to hand. I still remember the canopy bed she fashioned for me with tacks and a crocheted throw. I was thrilled when I came home from school.

  40. Lovely eulogy Sue! What I appreciated about your post was your sharing of the not always easy relationship you had with your Mom. My Mother passed in 2019 at 93. She had battled dementia for about thirteen years and mental illness most of her life. Although a good mother in many ways she was utterly horrific in others. As an adult I can forgive quite a bit of her behaviour because I now understand her struggle with mental illness. On the other hand I had it as well but sought help at the point I thought it would have a negative impact on my family. My mother did not, no let me correct that. She would not, flat out refused. The money and resources were there for her…
    She was a product of her times, her family and her religion,,,and the notion that mental illness was a ‘weakness’ that only others suffered with. My brothers, father and I still struggle with our ‘ambivalence’ four years after her death. However her legacy has been to make my siblings and myself proactive with our own mental well being and that of our now adult children. (Who have all turned out to be remarkable people and parents in their own right)
    Kudos to you for your honesty about your relationship with your Mom.
    And hugs, hugs always help<3

    1. After she went for counselling for her agoraphobia, my mum became an advocate for seeking help for mental health issues. I remember her talking to a friend’s mum who used to call her for support with her own issues. They were not actually friends, just knew each other through their daughters. But Mum talked her through many a stressful moment and she later sought help for depression. But there were issues that Mum refused to deal with, sometimes, when we were kids, out of fear that if she stopped to deal with her issues she’d never get back up and going again and she had four kids to raise on her own. Later after my step-father died, I dealt with my inability to look at Mum honestly and truthfully. My counsellor taught me to see things more clearly and allowed me to not feel I had to look at the world and my mother’s behaviour only through my mum’s eyes. That was very freeing. It’s funny, I said to Hubby when Mum passed away that dealing with her death was way more complex than coping with the loss of my step-father. My relationship with him was totally uncomplicated. Like he was.

  41. Thank you for sharing the wonderful eulogy you wrote for your Mum with us Sue. I think you got the balance just right. It was touching and funny and I hung on every word.

  42. Suz from Vancouver

    Thank you for sharing your eulogy with us, Sue. So beautifully written and full of love. Tears and smiles over here this morning.
    Suz from Vancouver

  43. I can’t really add to what others have said about the eulogy other than that it’s a gift that you have given to your and your mom’s family and friends, a touchstone that will help spark and hold their own memories. I think that delaying the memorial service to allow everyone to process thoughts and feelings is a wonderful idea.

  44. Right after drying my eyes and clearing the lump from my throat I’m going to applaud you from afar.

  45. So beautiful, Sue, and not the least bit sappy! Your Mum would have loved it. Thank you. I almost feel like I knew your mother … one of those feisty war ladies who could do anything and never took no for an answer. I miss their can-do presence!

  46. Sue, I had read this a while back, and as happens, thought I had replied. I love your eulogy, it feels so authentic, as does this post. Your relationship with your mother has been so wonderful and also so true here on your pages. Thank you.

  47. Hi Sue. I loved your eulogy and like another commenter wrote about loving listening to eulogies, I do too. I always learn something new about the person or got to know them better than I did before. I enjoyed learning about your mom. I’m sure she was a very funny lady.

    I now have the honor of delivering a eulogy for my brother who is at the end stages of Alzheimer’s. I have written it already so that when the time comes I am ready. I think it is long – about 17 minutes but I cannot figure out what could be omitted. I googled famous eulogies and the longest one I’ve found is Kevin Costner’s eulogy for Whitney Houston which was 18 minutes. What do you think of a long eulogy? It won’t be in a church. I’m thinking it will be more of a celebration of life so I don’t think there will be anyone saying I can speak for 5 minutes. I cannot capture my brothers life in a short time. He has had an extremely difficult life but his love and affection is so beautiful.

    Thank you if you reply.

    1. Thanks, Tricia. Gosh, I don’t know how to answer your question. I tried to keep my Mum’s eulogy down to ten minutes or less. I can’t remember exactly how long it ended up. I do know that I read it out loud as I intended to read it at the service and timed it. I left out some parts that needed explanation like the fact that other siblings of hers had died as infants because I thought an explanation would slow the pace of that particular part of the eulogy which was more or less a list. And I didn’t talk about health and pain challenges she had in the last two years of her life because everyone there would be well aware of them, plus I said in my opening that I didn’t want to dwell on the end of her life but talk about the beginning and the middle. The challenges she had to make ends meet when she was a single parent I left out as well except to mention them. That’s because I wanted the tone of my eulogy to be more upbeat and light which I knew was more suitable for the kind of person Mum was. But you will know best what you should say about your brother. So, I’m afraid I’m not much help. Good luck with it. 🙂

  48. J’ai perdu maman il y a 35 ans .Maman ….le mot le plus doux que je connaisse .
    Et j’ai perdu mon enfance avec elle .
    Elle pouvait résoudre tous les problèmes ,elle était mon assurance contre la tristesse et la mort .
    Elle n’était que douceur et bienveillance .
    Et il y avait tant de monde à ses funérailles que je ne connaissais pas, tous ceux a qui elle avait tendu la main ,a qui elle avait ouvert sa porte .Elle vivait en dehors des codes ,s’oubliant trop souvent au profit d’autrui .
    Quant à moi j’ai décidé il y a bien longtemps d’être une vieille dame indigne que bien peu de choses n’arrête .
    Et je vis avec passion le temps qui me reste …

    1. We are definitely at the age where not many of our family and friends knew us as children. Those who do are to be cherished. I miss being able to share my memories with my mum.

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