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I have been writing this eulogy ever since we realized that Mom would be leaving us sooner than later. When I was cutting the grass or driving home from the hospital or chopping up potatoes, I would think of something else I wanted to say about Mom. If I said all that I have thought over the past five months, we’d be here all day. I could go on and on about her kindness to others, her soft heart, her sentimental ways…but I’ve decided the best ways to remember Mom are first by telling you some what we learned from her over the years, and then by sharing some of the things other people have said about her.

Mom taught by example. One of the main things we learned from her was how to throw a party. That lesson goes hand in hand with the next one which is that it’s better to have too much than not enough. She probably fed just about everybody in this church, and if you left her table hungry, then it was your own fault not hers. We finally had to eat buffet style, because there was usually too much food for the table. My Uncle Bob was a frequent recipient of plates of food sent home after a gathering. He was fond of saying that Mom’s leftovers were better than his firstovers.

She taught us to always try to make people feel welcome in our home. Kirk used to joke that she’d serve dinner to an axe murderer. I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say that she went to great pains to make sure no one felt unwelcome. Even when she was tired and ready for someone to leave, she’d never let you know it. She was always a gracious hostess. I think it was that, even more than the food, that made people flock to her house. There, you were nourished both body and soul around her table.

She taught us that it is better to give than to receive. Again, probably everybody in here has at one point been lucky enough to have gotten a plate of candy, a loaf of zucchini bread, a jar of jelly, or a bag of party mix. She sent food to those who were sick; gave money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Crusade for Children; sponsored a needy family at Christmas. She piled gifts on us girls and her grandchildren. She was in direct competition with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. At Easter, she even took to making a basket for a neighborhood man who is mentally disabled.

She taught us that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. I’m still working on that one, but I can say that I don’t think I hardly ever heard Mom say anything bad about anyone. She always tried to be the kind of friend she’d want to have.

She taught us that kids are only little for a short time. That it’s okay for grandmas to spoil them. That one more popsicle never hurt anybody.

She taught us that life is for living. When we were little, she let all the neighborhood kids play in the mud at her house. She often said she bet the other mothers on the street got frustrated with her because she let kids get so dirty. She knew that the best thing on a hot summer evening was a cold ice cream from the Tastee Freeze. She would load up as many kids as would fit into the back of the station wagon and take us all to get ice cream cones. She even took our dog, Bassie. She was the perfect Koolaid mom. She went to Spain, to Puerto Rico, to Las Vegas. She flew in a hot air balloon and snorkeled in Haunama Bay and walked on still warm lava on the Big Island of Hawaii. She met Jimmy Carter.

She taught us about tradition and family. These are ties that bind. She showed us how important they are to life. They are the memories that we carry with us. She loved getting together on holidays and birthdays. She loved reindeer food and Easter egg hunts and special treat bags at Halloween.

But the most important thing Mom taught us was about faith. She took us to mass, the stations, the adoration of the Eucharist. She taught us to turn to God not just during bad times, but in good times as well. She taught us how to pray. She helped us learn not to ask for what we wanted but for what was best. We prayed to St. Anthony for lost things and St. Jude for hopeless causes. She told us to “offer it up” when we had to do something especially difficult. She enrolled her grandchildren in perpetual masses when they were baptized. My entire life, she had a rosary on her nightstand. During her illness, she kept a colored, plastic one next to her the whole time.

My mom had many different titles. She was a wife of 39 years, a mother to three daughters, and a grandmother to the 9 grandchildren whom she so dearly loved. She was a sister and an aunt. She was a wonderful neighbor. She was “Mrs. Fitz” to hundreds of children over 20 years here at OLC. But I think the title she loved most was “friend.”

You couldn’t find a better friend than my mom. On her 60th birthday, her friends and relatives wrote letters to Mom to let her know how she had touched their lives. I want to share a few of their thoughts with you today…

Always with a smile on your face and an apple pie in the oven, you filled up my life---our lives---with richness and flavor…

You’ve been the glue to our family…

I like to come to your house and play with you, and you give me all the things I want like gummies and popsicles and ice cream…

…You are one of the most admired persons in my life. You are the kind of person who doesn’t waste a minute when a family member or friend needs help. You are right there with food, comfort, and love.

Thank you for broccoli soup, zucchini bread, strawberry preserves, party mix, and homemade candy…

I have traveled many roads, but the one I like the most is the one that leads to your home. I know that when I get there, I will always find a cup of coffee and a piece of pie or cake, and your friendly smile…

You do things for others that the rest of us only think of doing…

Everyone should be able to look back on his or her childhood and be so blessed as to have a special person (like Wanda) in his or her life…

At the time in my life, my days were long, but Wanda’s sweet face was always there for me to help me make it through another day. She would have a wonderful meal waiting many times and a cup of coffee and good conversation.

And this last quote pretty much says it all…

To have known Wanda is to have been touched by an angel.

Posted 01/28/2008 09:51 am by Sharron
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