Recently, Shrink lost her mother after a short, determined struggle. After being told Mummy was coming home, she was readmitted when doctors discovered three new infections and passed on shortly thereafter. So this week, instead of me telling you about one of the most caring (and stubborn) women I have ever known, I have asked Shrink and Geek to share, in their own words, a bit about the woman who must have been the inspiration for Everybody Loves Raymond's Marie Barone...
Shrink's letter to mummy...
I have been sitting and staring at your pictures since you went to rest. None of this could possibly be real. I keep hearing your voice, and I can feel you playing with my hair. I keep hearing your laugh. I am so grateful for the time I have been able to spend with you over the past few months. The just us time. I am so glad that we got to say all the things we wanted to say, but no matter how many times they were said it’s not enough, it will never be enough. And I am going to keep saying them over and over because I know you can hear me even if I can’t always hear you now. I love you mommy. I love you I love you I love you. You left me far too soon and you are too young for this to be happening, there are so many things you haven’t taught me how to do yet. But you did teach me to share and I guess its Becky’s turn to have you for a while. And someday we will all be together making havoc. Until then all I can do is try to make you proud. Proud of the woman you raised.
From you I learned that I can be loved and how to love in return. I learned how to open my heart and my home to those in need. And to never turn away a stray. I learned how to be strong, and tough, and how to cry. You taught me to never do something halfway. You taught me books are doorways to other worlds. You taught me faith. You taught me to be independent, have my own thoughts even when they didn’t always agree with yours. You taught me that family isn’t about blood or legal relations; Family is what and who you make it. You gave me an amazing family.
Raymond, Jonathan, Jennifer, Melanie, Samantha, Jason and Me. I can’t express how much we all miss you. You are a mother to all of us and always will be. It is so hard to think that Kenzie isn’t going to be running in the house looking for “granma” anymore. And Quinny and the grandbabies you asked me for last week who never got the chance to know how amazing it is to be loved by you. But we will tell them, and we will do our best to show them. And we are all working to make you proud of who we are, we are who we are because of you. You left a pretty heavy crown to wear but I am going to do my best to handle it with the dignity and grace and sheer stubbornness that you did.
Mom you are the most amazing, strong, beautiful, intelligent loving woman I have ever or will ever meet. Nothing I could write will ever do justice to the person you are. You touched so many lives and they are better for having known you.
I want you to know how loved you are both here and behind the veil. You are my light and my life. I know Becky will take good care of you until I get there. I love you Mama so much. Rest well. And always remember to do it “by the rütts”.
I love you mommy.
Many of you have known Mummy for quite a long time, some of you your whole lives. To some she was a skilled hairdresser, to others a great friend, and to a lucky few a mother, daughter or wife. I've had the privilege of knowing Mummy for only two years. The first of those years she was my girlfriend’s mother to me. While I knew even then that she was a great person, I have to be honest- I was somewhat scared of her. She'd tell me all these stories about Shrink growing up and the trouble she'd get in, and I always hoped to God that I wouldn't say the wrong thing and skew her opinion of me. Thankfully, I think that I did alright there.. Then after Shrink and I were married she became Mom to me as well. Sure, I often joked about how our living situation was like Everybody Loves Raymond with my mother-in-law living next door, but I really had very little to complain about- she treated me as if I was her own son and I got to know her very well.
Mummy always had the best at heart for everybody. That's not to say that she didn't occasionally drive us crazy, although half the time it was only because we knew that she was right and weren't willing to admit it to ourselves. She would open her heart and her home to anybody. She fostered many children in her home, and even after that would invite college students who had nowhere to go to come for dinner on holidays. Further, she was a persistent and strong-willed woman. Whether she was calling Senators about some social injustice, contacting the state to find grants for someone’s business venture, or putting “Permanent Sticking Charms” on the walls of the house to make sure Shrink didn't sand or paint over her white paint, she always made sure she got what was needed for herself or others. By whatever criteria you may use, Mummy was most certainly a great woman and will continue to be a great woman within each of our memories.
Shrink said something to me the other day while sitting in the car that really made me think. She said “I don't understand why Mom would want to be cremated- she was always scared to death of fire.” Now I remember hearing stories about this that I can't recall at the moment, but I do know it to be true- she definitely did not like fire at all. And as I considered that, I remembered just recently how she was scared at the hospital going through all the procedures. Maybe then, we should look at the decision to be cremated as her facing her fears and telling us all “I'm not scared anymore.” She is in a better place now- there is no pain, no suffering, and nothing to be afraid of. I'm not going to stand here and preach about how we should be strong and yada yada- if I did, I think Shrink would be up here in two seconds with her foot up my ass. However, we should at least take solace in knowing that Mummy is watching over us with the rest of our past loved ones, guiding us, consoling us, and occasionally tossing a book or clock off the wall when we don't listen.
Mummy, you will be loved and missed always, and never forgotten. May you rest in peace.
While it has been hard on them, Shrink and Geek have begun the hard process of moving forward with their lives; something I believe Mummy would have wanted and been proud (though I'm sure there would be arguments along the way). She is a woman who will be missed by all who knew her and kept close in each and every heart she touched.