“good night, sweet mom”: words at my mom’s celebration of life

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love,
where there is offense, let me bring pardon,
where there is discord, let me bring union,
where there is error, let me bring truth,
where there is doubt, let me bring faith,
where there is despair, let me bring hope,
where there is darkness, let me bring light.

O Master, let me seek not so much as
to be consoled, as to console,
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved, as to truly love,

for it is in giving that we receive,
in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and in dying that we are born to eternal life.

These are words that my mom wove into a watercolor quilt that now hangs above a bed in which my dad sleeps.

st. francis prayer quilt

My mom was fond of platitudes. She once said to me: “What have I always taught you?” I responded: “Moderation, you’ve always taught me moderation, moderation, moderation, moderation, be moderate, moderate, moderate, extremely moderate!” She laughed. My mom had a generous heart.

She was amazingly and immoderately happy, upbeat and joyful in ordinary details of life. She liked to ask me what I made for dinner, what the weather was like in DC, and how things were going at work. My mom loved gardening and walking through woods and mountains. She seemed to feel a connection to nature like that of St. Francis of Assisi. He prayed with Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Mother Earth:

Praise be to you, my Lord,
through our Sister Mother Earth
who feeds us, and governs us, and produces for us
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

My mom was one with Sister Mother Earth.

On his deathbed, St. Francis is thought to have prayed:

Praise be to you, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death
from whom no living person can escape.

As a young child, I remember lying in bed, thinking that everyone will die. I figured out that meant that my mom would die. And I cried.

When she was in the hospital in the few days before she died, among my mom’s last words to me were “goodnight sweetie.”

Good night, sweet mom. I have your hand-sewn purple robe that you always wore in the morning. Whether I’m asleep or awake, I will always hear your loving voice.

mom's purple morning robe

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