Mother - Betty Lou Mosher Boyd
The Eulogy She Didn't Want
June 16th, 2007Today my mother passed away and so I was thinking about how I would characterize my mother. What would people say defined my mother? What did I think defined my mother?
She was certainly a good cook and as a kid growing up, we always had very well balanced meals. We didn't have extravagant meals but very good and healthy meals. This was way before our culture became health conscious and such things became in vogue. But her cooking and meal planning talent certainly wasn't something that she aspired to. She just saw it as the best thing she could do for her husband and children.
She was an excellent seamstress and made clothes for herself and her children, providing clothing more cheaply than could be purchased in a store and some dresses for herself that were more extravagant than what she would have purchased. While she enjoyed sewing, she certainly wasn't involved in it to the extent that someone would think "seamstress" when they thought of Betty Boyd.
She was a pretty fair artist, and took some art classes later in life to improve her skill, but again, she wasn't involved enough in art for someone to think of "artist" when they thought of Betty Boyd.
She certainly loved nature. I still remember how excited she was to see a Pileated woodpecker up close right outside my family room window. She mentioned that frequently when the topic of birds came about. It was a long running family joke about her wanting to put her hands in a stream. If she saw a clear running stream she would want to get out of the car and put her hands in the water. She just wanted to commune with nature I guess. Even when she was lying in a bed in the Hospice Care Center, she was hoping to see some wildlife in the lawn outside her room. But again her love for nature wasn't something that defined her.
Mom had many interests and talents but I just couldn't seem to come up with one particular interest or talent that seemed to define her. As I thought about it, I realized that her first priority was her husband and her second priority was her children and everything else just never got the focus required to become a defining factor. I realized that she simply did not let any of her interests take precedence over her top two priorities.
She took care of all the financial matters, the investments, the check book, and did the taxes all on her own every year, even the last year that she lived. But she would be the first to say that it wasn't something she enjoyed or even had a particular knack for, she just saw it as something that she could do to help her husband and family.
She enjoyed traveling, but I think as much as anything it was because her husband enjoyed traveling. And I think the same could be said for music. Dad enjoyed barber shop music and therefore so did she.
If any one thing defined her, it was that she had her priorities well established and she lived by them. Husband first, children second and everything else came after that. She didn't do this intentionally, it was just her. She couldn't have lived any other way.
After her kids were grown, she enjoyed various pastimes. She bowled for a while, she tried her hand at golf. She enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles from time to time, and later in life she collected rabbit figurines. But none of this overrode her priorities. They couldn't because her priorities were part of her.
At the Loss of My Mother
June 17th, 2007My mother passed into eternity yesterday and I awoke this morning thinking about how I didn't really feel much loss. That made me a little nervous - could I be so callous that I didn't care that my mother died?! But then as I thought about it, I realized God has arranged life such that it worked that way. The loss of my mother had been happening in little pieces all through my life. And while my physical mother was becoming less and less, the memories of her were becoming more and more.
One of the first losses was when I was in high school and I started driving. I no longer rode around in the car with my mother. Those had been good times. But the first car I drove was her car, and I remember that car well.
And then when I got a job and had some money, she told me I would have to buy my own clothes. I used to wear my "mother's clothes," that is the clothes she bought for me, but no more. Of course the clothes I bought still had to pass her inspection. I guess it was hard for her to stop being a mother and so that happened a little piece at a time as well.
So life went on. I moved away and lost her good cooking on a daily basis. I got married and lost her washing my clothes and looking after me in all of that physical way. But the memories kept piling up. I remember those special Thanksgiving and Christmas meals she cooked for our family and how she loved my wife (I think she would rather talk to Connie than to me.)
When she lost her hair from the radiation treatments, she never again looked exactly like my mother. But there are many memories of her valiant fight with cancer.
The day came when she was too weak to go for walks, but I remember the hiking we did at Nelson's Ledges and I remember the day that I went for a walk with her and she stepped off so fast that I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to keep up with my 70 year old mother.
Even in the last week of her life, when she was bed ridden and then comatose, she was making memories for me. When I finished reading the Bible to her on Sunday, she grinned at me (the smile was in her eyes as much as her mouth) and she said, "You're my favorite son." (A running personal joke since I'm her only son). Then later in the week when she was comatose, as I said goodbye, I said, "You're my favorite mother." She opened her eyes and stared at me. It was an empty stare and disconcerting. More loss. More memories.
And so while I've lost my physical mother, my memory mother is now complete, and she'll be with me always.