This is my very first post. Strangely enough, it’s on an older subject. Although, the issue isn’t that old, eight months to be exact. To the date, a matter of fact. To the damn date. I didn’t plan this, swear.
So, in the span of a lifetime of loving someone…the eight months…are a raindrop. And the severity, the clarity of the subject is absolutely forefront and as tender as the day I spoke these words further below. These are the words I used to memorialize my mother, Mary Ann Archie. My mom, this quick-witted, sensitive, tough as nails (how can you be both? I don’t know, but she was) or as my teenage son says…”she was a beast,” beautiful woman left our family on June 9, 2016. She was 77. Old enough to know better but young enough to still start trouble. Dammit!
I spoke of her at her memorial, exactly a week and two days after her passing, still retched with disbelief that she was gone even though I was with her when she passed. But how can she be gone? I saw her go! Like a train leaving a station! Like a wave leaving the beach! I saw her leave. And yet, I still ached for her to be there. And I still ache for her today. Endlessly.
For her eulogy, at first I did not have words, then I had too many. In the end, there is never enough words, or too little, or time or feelings for that matter. We just are. We go with the flow of what we feel on that given day. Today I feel like shit about her not being here. Tomorrow I may feel absolutely free and glorious in knowing she is…free! The beauty is in accepting whatever you may be feeling in that day and being damn right okay with it. Difficult to do, but needed.
But as for that eulogy, maybe if I wrote her eulogy a day or two earlier or a day or two later it would have been different. But that day, the flow poured out, and I did not stand in its way. This was how I felt about my mom Mary Ann on the day of her memorial. And actually, I still feel the same, and I wish I could hug her. Hug her like only a daughter could hug a mom and a mom hug a daughter. Breathlessly.
Please don’t expect many of my posts to be of such grave nature. There will be a lot of joy, sarcasm, poetry, song lyrics, love and lots of bullshit mixed in. This world needs bullshit. That would be my mother’s contribution coming through me. And I don’t mean bullshit as in…to pull the wool over one’s eyes or to deceive, but I mean good old fashioned fun as she would say, “Let’s sit around and bullshit for awhile.”
So, I must start this blog where I feel there is life. And that was with her. She was the beginning of me but not the end. She planted a seed I now water. Life you see is endless. And I hope this eulogy below brings comfort, joy or just pure love to anyone who reads it. As many can relate when losing someone who is so fucking impactful on your life, you’re dumbfounded by their absence. Or maybe more so…dumbfounded by their constant presence within you. This is love.
Eulogy for Mary Ann Archie:
Nothing can prepare you for how much others love the one you love. I’ll say it again cause it’s a messy one. Nothing can prepare you for how much others love the one you love. I’ve realized this recently when reconnecting with family and my mother’s friends and discovering their depth of love for my mother. Love isn’t singular. It is broad and it is beautiful and expressed and exchanged fluidly, and my mom did that with everyone she met. Everyone meant something to her. And those closest to her she loved immensely and they returned that love to her. Again, nothing can prepare you for love others have for the one you love. And then you find it so extraordinary because it makes you love them that much more.
And my mother was love. She lived it and deeply. She was an incredibly sensitive soul, and she could only love deeply. She invested her whole heart to those she cared for. In turn her heart would break to the same depth if they were hurt or if they hurt her. That is the way she loved, and that is the way she taught me to love. Boldly. She would say, “If you love fully, you can hurt fully but why would you love any less?” My mother never did anything “less”. She really didn’t. She lived passionately and honestly…and full of love.
I can only honestly talk about Mary Ann as a mother and a friend (in my adult life), but I witnessed her as a daughter, a wife, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a cousin, a mother-in-law and a friend to many…but of course so important as a grandmother. Her most prized role that of a parent and grandparent. She endeared her life to her children and her grandchildren and in turn, she formed eternal bonds with us through small joking ways which were very common with my mother or through deep, meaningful, spiritual heartfelt conversations that if anyone knew Mary Ann, they knew they could have them safely and intimately with her. As her children and grandchildren we were extraordinarily blessed to find her as our confidant and guide. As a teenager, I rented my mother out to my friends frequently. There were times my friends would call and ask to talk to my mom! Yes, they didn’t want me, they wanted her! They could speak to her about things they couldn’t share with their parents. And she did it lovingly and with honor. If you found her available to you, you found yourself in the beauty of a gentle soul willing to give herself to you.
There is an enormity of losing a parent. Especially when you’ve had the blessing of having them around in your adult life to consider them a friend. She was my teacher, a willing subject to listen to my rants and raves, my heartaches, my happiness. She was my biggest fan. Literally. As a musician…I think she had more of my CDs and promotional pictures than I do! She used to come out to my rock shows, wearing my band’s T-shirt and hang with the band or the fans. She never had trouble fitting in. In any situation…any situation…she was the first to say hello and the last to say goodbye. She was…remarkable.
So, how do you sum up the life of someone who has impacted yours so greatly that you can’t imagine the world without them? All you can do is live with them as part of your soul and all their teachings a part of you and your character. And your body from them, you are them. My mother…truly from whom I came. I am a part of her. I look at my hands, and I see her. I look at my reflection, and I see her. More than anything I feel her in my heart and hear her in my words. She is with me everywhere. I look at my family, and I see her in my brother in his hearty laugh, I see her in her grandchildren with their quick humor and snarky comments. But of course, their sensitivity and sweetness that I know she impressed upon them. Most of all I see her in her granddaughter, my niece, Amanda. Amanda and my mother had a special bond. A genuine, loving sweet fondness for each other. Amanda took care of her grandmother to the depths most young women could not endure. And I know my mother was grateful. Beyond grateful, because my mom was able to bond with her granddaughter. There may not even be a word that can describe how much Amanda meant to my mother. But…love. My mother was love.
So, again, how do you sum up the life of someone who has impacted yours so greatly that you can’t imagine the world without them? Well, through hugs. My mom’s approach to all people was always genuine and usually started with a hug. She had a colorful language that amused most, and she used it frequently and most of the time appropriately. Most of the time. Okay, some of the time. You could call her… robustly truthful. You always knew were you stood with Mary Ann. AND Especially if she greeted you with a hug.
Back in the ’80s, my mom loved an author and motivational speaker named LEO BUSCAGLIA. He was called Dr. Love, and he endlessly promoted the power of a hug. He said, “Hugging is good medicine. It transfers energy and gives the person hugged an emotional lift. And the nicest thing about a hug is that you usually can’t give one without getting one.” My mom took me to one of Leo Buscaglia’s speeches back in the ’80s. At the end of his speech, he said he would give hugs to as many people in the audience as possible. There were hundreds of people there so my mom and I jumped up to get in line to get a hug. We were both thrilled for the opportunity, but unfortunately they cut the line off right after my mom and before me. But my mom unselfishly pushed me in front of her and told me to get the hug from him. I argued and stated that she was the bigger fan. She, in turn, said, “You get the hug from him, then hug me and then I get it too.” She was like that. Always put everyone else first. So how do I sum up a life and that of up Mary Ann? Through a hug. So as a family we’d like all of you to leave with a hug card. My mom used to carry these around with her and randomly hand them out to people. Please take a card and share the card. And HUG! Sharing the card and hugging with be sharing her legacy.
I leave you with this…please turn to the person next to you, both sides and give them a hug! We all knew and loved Mary Ann. My mother. And she would want us to hug. Thank you.