The Left Turn Blog # 2 Mom's Eulogy
Good Morning Everyone and thank you all so much for your support over the past couple of days, I’m up here because my Mom asked me to give her eulogy. It was when I was 7 years old and it came right after I asked the question “Mom what’s a eulogy?” She went on to explain, “When someone dies a person who loved them very much gets up on the alter and tells everyone all the nice things about them and why they loved them so much” I remember very clearly thinking that’ll be easy because at that point in my life my Mom was my best friend, my favorite person and really my entire world so no problem, that should be easy. I can honestly say that 40 years later its not so easy to stand up here today but I’m happy and honored to have the chance to tell you all about her and how much she’s done for me and everyone who came into her orbit.
She had a unique gift of making everyone she talked to feel like the most important person in the room. She had unlimited time, energy and love for all four of her children. She showed us all by example that there isn’t anything we can’t do and there are too many times to count that she showed us that she always had our backs no matter what. For me she was both Mother and Father for most of my life and I feel extra blessed that because of the age difference between me and the others I lucked out with a lot more one on one Mom time when I was younger. In particular a lot of time centered around this church we’re all in here today. I LOVED going to mass with my mom when I was younger. It was worth every last boring second of that 45 minutes or so to walk out afterwards and see EVERYONE who saw my Mom wave, smile and more often than not run over to her just to chat, give her a hug and many many times say Thank You for something she did for them or bit of encouragement she gave them when they needed it most. Just like I saw her do so many times. Over the past couple of days at her wake a staggering amount of people, mostly women told me how much they loved my mom and how she helped them early on in their careers, in that uncertain and scary time just after finishing school or at times in their lives when they just needed an extra MOM. She just had so much time and positive energy for anyone and everyone.
Another blessing of spending so much time with my Mom in those early years was I got to witness the birth of EVIE. The left turn and reinvention of herself around 40 or so. As far as I can remember she was always taking classes somewhere and school was always a thing my Mom did after working all day. When I was born my Mom was 32 years old with 3 kids aged 10, 9 & 6 working at a bakery and shortly after started taking secretarial courses at night. My first memories of my Mom’s job was when she started working for Hitachi which at the time was here in Woodside. She was one of the very few non Japanese folks there and at first Evie instead of Evelyn was kind of out of necessity based on the language barrier. So now Japanese was another thing she was studying as well. When the company moved to Long Island which might as well have been the moon at that point, my Mom got her license and a car and drove the 50 miles or so round trip every day. Still finding time to take courses and better herself and not sacrificing a single second of being there for us all. She continued to work hard and move on to bigger and better things. She then started working for a German company in Manhattan only 3 miles away but like Long Island might as well have been the moon. Now she was taking the subway in her awesome business suits looking like a million bucks every day. She would eventually retire from that job after a long career, her first of 3 retirements, in 1997. She kept her new superhero alter ego Evie and continued to try to be a better version of her already pretty incredible self and take all the new left turns and forks in the road that presented themselves with confidence and most importantly kindness and an unshakeable faith in God and herself.
Around that time I started to play drums at the Saturday night mass with the “hip young people’ folk group and because we rehearsed at the same time Evie, who always wanted to sing and had a beautiful and POWERFULLY LOUD voice (its not just for yelling at her rotten kids) join the “grown up” choir. Although she was way cooler and hip than anyone in either bunch. So now her classes included the secretarial skills she continued to improve on, German (replacing Japanese) and voice lessons. Within a year or so of her first rehearsal she was on the alter as a leader of song and before long was singing on the alter of St Patrick’s Cathedral several times a week where she volunteered during her lunch hour in some capacity every single day. This went on for many, many years and if she wasn’t otherwise engaged she’d be up here today. If that wasn’t enough of a full schedule she decided she was going to get her Real Estate license, even more school, and like everything else she did jumped in with both feet and before you knew it there she was in her yellow blazer, killing it. Even with that packed schedule there was never a single second she sacrificed her main job of being a mom and being there for us. I have so many memories of going with her on countless appointments to show houses and apartments to clients just to spend time with her and saw first hand how she treated everyone with respect and kindness and how much she made everyone feel like a million bucks and there wasn’t anyone she couldn’t make smile and often leave them doubled over in laughter. This continued on in all the things she pursued and people she touched. Her time at St Raphael’s School and the countless parishioners and former students we met these last few days all said the same things to us we’ve heard all our lives “your Mom was the best, she helped me so much, She was there when no-one else was, it just goes on and on. Again everyone in her orbit.
We all saw her rise to he occasion at the worst of times as well. When our Dad died suddenly in 1988 she held our family together and through that unshakable faith of hers was the rock we all leaned on. My biggest regret is that as a kid I just couldn’t see that at the time but it is clear as a bell now and has continued to be an example and source of strength throughout my life as I’m sure it has been for many of us here today. I’d like to share one of many memories of the strength my Mom showed us and examples love and faith we all learned about in this building here. The day of our Dad’s funeral we were all lined up at the back of the church with the doors closed. Myself and my brother Eric were the first two pallbearers everyone saw when the doors opened. As they opened the entire completely packed church turned to see us. I heard an audible gasp and then felt a giant wave of heat. I can only describe it as being punched in the face with love. I could feel at once our whole community and entire extended family sending us every last bit of energy, faith and love they had. It’s a memory and feeling of comfort I’ve leaned on throughout the hardest parts of my life. I felt it 3 years later again when myself and my mom walked down this aisle right here arm and arm with Eileen on her wedding day and I felt it again here today as we all walked in together. All that love my Mom has put out into the universe throughout her life was so graciously returned to us by all of you so thank you all so very much.
Now on to her greatest achievement and source of joy and the role she cherished more than anything NANA. She first became a grandmother in 1990 when Jessica was born. She was only 50 so she had plenty of energy to be a fun nana and that a she certainly was. I never saw her happier than she was when she was in Nana mode. Before long, Christina was born followed by Lauren, Nick and then Jack. As great a Mom as she was and as much energy, time and love she had for us all it was nothing compared to the love and support she was ready, willing and able to shower on her grandchildren. It was just an absolute joy to watch her instill in them the same fearless faith she had in all of us and to hear those kids laugh like only Nana could make them. For me seeing how she treated Jack who like myself was a good bit younger than the rest and “the baby” touched my heart in a special way. She wasn’t just Nana but she was body guard, defense attorney and ace up his sleeve she had always been to me in all matters sibling or cousin bullying. I couldn’t possibly put the words together to describe the strength she showed us all when Eva passed away. As beside herself with grief as she was and as much of a giant piece of her heart was ripped out we all saw her put every last bit of her energy and again that seemingly unending supply of love along with that unshakable faith into making sure Jessica and Lauren would be ok. Seeing them and all 5 of her grandchildren grow into the beautiful, smart and loving adults they have become is certainly a tribute to their amazing parents but it has Nana written all over it too and that’s why today my Mom might not be physically here but as long as we’re all here on this planet and continue to live, love and dream the way she taught and showed us she will always be alive. A quick story I’d love to share with you and I’ll try my best not to cry like I do every time I tell it. It was 2011 and I was in Paddy Reilly’s Bar getting ready to start a gig and chatting to my friend Brian. I was at the end of the bar facing the door and Brain was facing me with his back to the door. All of a sudden he put his arm on my shoulder and said are you ok you just turned completely white you look like you’re gonna faint. I said no its just that that woman who just walked in looks exactly like my sister and as soon as I could finish that sentence that woman walked up to me and said “Hi Uncle Dave” It was Jessica and as I tried my best to hold back the flood of tears welling up I instantly understood and knew that Eva was still very much alive and right there with us. We all spent the last few weeks together looking at pictures. Holding up pictures of our Dad and Eric and Nick and it was hard to tell who was who. We saw pictures of our family from the late 70s and in one of them in particular it was as if Lauren was right there in the picture with all of us. For those of you that have had the pleasure of watching My Mom argue with Eileen while she’s arguing with Christina and three sets of hands going at the same pace as if they rehearsed it. I think I’m gonna miss that the most. Fewer things have made me laugh more and have demonstrated that although our bodies tire out and leave this world the biggest parts of us, the love we shared and memories we have, live forever.
So in honor of My Mom, Evelyn, Evie, Mrs. Barckow and most importantly Nana:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A LEFT TURN AND REINVENT YOURSELF
BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE
LOVE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO LOVE
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
DON’T LET ANYONE EVER TELL YOU THERE’S ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD YOU CAN’T DO
BECAUSE MY MOM PROVED THATS JUST NOT TRUE