Today is Sentimental Sunday (a blog theme), and Mother's Day, and I want to honor my mother on this special day by posting two pictures of her success at being a mother. First off is a picture of my mother holding her first-born - me! - in late 1943:
Second is a picture of my mother near the end of her life with her three offspring - Randy, Stan and Scott, taken on her birthday in 2001:
But my mother was much more than young and then old - she lived a very full life. I still cannot represent it better than I did in my eulogy for my mother at her memorial service on 13 January 2002. Here it is:
A Wonderful Life -- by Randy Seaver
I celebrate the life of my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer Seaver, today with a sense of thanksgiving for her life, and gratitude for the love and encouragement she gave me.
The gravestone up at Fort Rosecrans will read 1919 – dash – 2002, but her life was much more than a beginning and an end. Mikel [the pastor] briefly summarized her life in his opening remarks, and the other speakers have remembered her impact on them.
To summarize the "dash" – she was a child of the Roaring 20’s, a Depression-era teen, a War bride, a 50’s and 60’s mom, a 70’s grandmother, and an 80’s and 90’s survivor. Obviously, it is impossible to cover a life of 82 years in just a few minutes.
The roles that my mother played in her life are many and varied – and typical of many women of her generation and throughout our history: Daughter, grand-daughter, niece, student, friend, sorority sister, artist, teacher, wife, lover, worker, mother, encourager, coach, citizen, patriot, aunt, neighbor, mentor, reader, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother.
As a mother, she provided the family roots needed for her children to grow into responsible adults. She also knew when to give us wings and let us “fly away” from the nest. She emphasized education, and doing well in school. She helped us with our homework, encouraged us to try and succeed in our lives. It was quite a task to manage a home with three active boys and a demanding husband, but she did it extremely well - with grace, good humor, and love.
I am a bit of a family historian. In the last ten years, I especially enjoyed taking her grocery shopping, and afterwards sitting on the patio, listening to her life experiences, looking at family pictures and papers. I was thrilled when she found new treasures in her bookcase or in the cedar chest. I cherish this special time that I spent with her.
The “dash” between the dates on the gravestone covers quite a bit, doesn’t it? My memories will always be of a woman and mother so patient, kind, encouraging, giving, helping, fun-loving, courteous, gracious, wise, honest, independent, organized, intelligent, articulate, confident, private, spirited, positive, good. She enjoyed being with her family, and was very proud of them.
One of her legacies is her genes. Looking at the big picture - she contributed her goodness and love to humanity and was a necessary part in the march of the generations.
Another legacy is the memories we have of her, as her family and friends, and the example of a life well lived – one of love, dignity and goodness. This is expressed beautifully in this excerpt from “How Green Was My Valley” by Richard Llewellyn, which I’ve slightly modified:
“I saw behind me those who had gone before,
and before me those who are to come,
I looked back and saw my father and mother,
and their fathers and mothers,
and all our fathers and mothers.
And in front to see my sons, and their daughters,
and the sons and daughters beyond.
And their eyes were my eyes,
As I felt, so they had felt, and would feel,
as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever.
“Then I was not afraid,
for I was in a long line that had no beginning and no end,
and the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand,
and my father’s hand was in mine,
and my children took my hand
and all up and down the line that stretched
from time that was to time that is, and is not yet,
all raised their hands to show the link,
and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man,
made in the image, fashioned in the Womb
by the Will of God, the Eternal Father.”
Her best qualities live on in her sons and their children – and they are ours to treasure and share through the years to come.
Thank you all for coming today and blessing us with your witness and your caring.
And Thank you, Lord God, for blessing us with this wonderful woman, my mother. May she rest in peace. Amen!
My brothers also spoke at her service. My youngest brother, Scott, remembered growing up and how Mom was always there for him throughout his life. He was 12 years younger than me, and was an "only child" in his teenage years. He mentioned the love and support as he went through school, played baseball, and started a family. He remembered the mundane things - going to the store, studying, just talking, playing ping-pong on the patio, etc.
My brother Stan, 3 years younger than me, invited the attendees to visualize his effort to describe Mom in words - he looked up words like loving, patience, kindness, goodness, and mother and said that when he saw the words in the dictionary he saw a picture of Mom looking back at him, with a smile and that he was at peace with her life and death.
It was interesting to see how the three of us complemented each other in our words - we covered quite a bit and, I hope, conveyed our love and respect for a wonderful woman who did her best, and succeeded in life.
Mom is up on the green hill with the granite headstones, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Point Loma, at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with my dad, under a big tree alongside the road. We still don't visit them often enough, I think.
My mother would be 90 years old now, and has been gone for over eight years. I still remember her gentle and loving voice, and her peaceful and happy outlook on life. I really appreciate her ancestry, and every time I look in my treasure boxes of ancestral "goodies" I think of her and her parents.