That's how I felt this morning when I woke up...I really didn't sleep well last night...I didn't fall asleep until VERY late so I only got a little over 4 hours of sleep. I was laying in bed but sleep wouldn't come...I even tried to bore myself to sleep---let me put it to you this way, I was watching "Showgirls" on the movie channel. Yes, THAT "Showgirls"...the really awful, horribly acted, stink bomb of a 1995 movie. And even that didn't help me get to sleep...I kept thinking that I would feel tired and want to turn the train wreck off of the tv but I kept watching every badly acted second of it and wondered how the same director and writer of Basic Instinct could go so horribly wrong...and I remembered that I hated it when I saw it the first time.
So I woke up tired and cranky and not feeling like a workout this morning but I had a date with Fitness Goddess and it was too late to cancel...
No sleep = no energy = no speed or strength = no air
In other words, I had to work really really hard to get myself to the aerobic state...and I kept yawning on each weight machine...so I worked out, but I didn't really WORK out...
Today would have been my mother's 66th birthday so that is perhaps the source of some of all of this...this is the 5th time I have celebrated her birthday without her. Lucky for me this year I got to do some celebrating and had a wonderful lunch with my daughter and my dear aunt...we had fun at Carrabbas (have the snapper with the balsamic vinegar/tomato sauce) and laughed and we were happy to remember her. My other aunt called in the middle of lunch to share that she had put her precious kitty to sleep (cancer) so my heart went out to her as we were lucky enough to all be together and she is in California...albeit with her totally adorable son!
So I am going to take the lazy way out on this blog tonight and finish with my mother's eulogy that I wrote 5 years ago. I feel that the best way to celebrate her life is to share the lessons I learned from her. When she died, despite my overwhelming grief and utter disbelief that I had lost her, I guess my brain unhinged with the trauma of it all and when the priest asked me who was going to eulogize her, I told him I was...
Now any of you who REALLY know me know that I love me an audience as much as any wannabe stage star, but speaking about something emotional in public reduces me not to tears, but to full-on sobs. So after I uttered the terrifying words "I am going to do it", I realized that I HAD to do it as the last act of love for my mother. So somewhere in a sleep-deprived, grief-stricken state I wrote the eulogy...I think it was 2 am...but I had mulled it over and decided that I learned so much from her that I wanted to share it with everyone else.
My mother was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but for all of her outer beauty (which she did spend some $$$ on...her plastic surgeon misses her too), her inner beauty was the best part of her. I miss her every second of every day...
But 5 years later I cannot allow the fact that I miss her like crazy to continue to be an excuse to not take better care of myself...to not love myself...to not care for myself the way she cared for me...to not care for myself the way she cared for herself (drawing the line at the facelifts here, but I do enjoy every sample of night cream that Sephora will throw at me).
I had the wind knocked out of me with her loss...no air...
But I'm still standing...
(iTunes note: "No Air"---Glee version...great for a climb...that oldie, but goodie "Im Still Standing" by Elton John is a great way to finish a workout and be proud of yourself)
Bye Darlings...Sorry this is so long...here is the eulogy...learn something from the amazing Deborah Dembski Shelton:
Today we honor my mother, celebrate her life, mourn her death, and rejoice that she continues to grow in Christ. I gave some thought about what to say, and if I even could say anything---for those of you who know me know that I am seldom unemotional and easily give in to tears. But I will try my best today to do this for my mother because I know she would want me to. And heaven knows, I do love an audience, especially a captive one…and we have full house today…
When I was trying to decide what to say, what message to give, how to best honor her, so many thoughts and ideas came to me. I could speak about her past and give you a boring history of her life…not that her life was boring, but rather just me droning on and on about what she did. We have been to life celebrations like that and about the time that the speaker gets to the high school years of the deceased, we are often nodding off. I also thought about telling you just about what a great daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend she was---but we all know that about her. You couldn’t speak to her without her mentioning her children, grandchildren, or family. Many of you know us and our children by name even if you have never seen our faces because she talked so much about us.
I thought about sending you all a message of peace, love, and our resurrection through Jesus Christ, but I think Father John had that covered and did it much more eloquently and elegantly than I ever could.
So, after some thought and prayer, and talking with my Aunt Jane, and a hope that I will be doing the right thing, I have decided to ask you all to do some things to honor her. I think it is the right thing to do, and I hope you all will do these things in her honor and memory---and it will please her greatly.
Not to steal any thunder from David Letterman, but I would now like to present to you the 10 things you can do to honor Debbie. I will borrow from his style and count backwards down to one, ending with the 2 things she would think are the most important.
Number 10---Cook with butter! My mother was a fabulous cook…she learned from her father who was also a great cook. She rarely produced a dish that wasn’t incredible tasting. She ate a healthy diet and enjoyed good food, but when she cooked, she cooked with butter. Most of our holiday meals centered on her delicious food and she didn’t skimp on the good stuff. So when you do anything in life, and not just when you cook…don’t skimp on the good stuff…make everything you do full fat, whole hog, and ignore the calories.
Number 9--- travel first class and see this world. It’s not always feasible to fly first class, but why not give up some of those frequent flyer points and get to your destination in a little more comfort? My mother always tried to do that…and she was always more comfortable for doing so. She loved to travel. She loved to go and see my brother Beto and his family in Africa----it’s a magnificent country and she loved to be there. She loved New York City---we traveled twice there with Camiel but she made many trips there and she never tired of the city. She took ordinary vacations to ordinary places but she also loved to travel to exotic and fun places like Hawaii, Bermuda, Egypt, and Europe. Even when she visited my sister Katie and her family in Fort Worth she turned it into a vacation. She loved to go places---whether she was traveling with her children or with friends. We took so many fabulous trips together and I know that I will miss having her as my favorite traveling companion. So get out there and see this world…and send my mother a postcard in a prayer.
Number 8---Sleep on a lot of soft pillows. My mother’s bed was a soft, safe haven for my children and my sibling’s children…all the grandchildren have slept in Nona’s great big bed, surrounded by all of her soft pillows. Sometimes our entire family would pile into her bed. My mother had guest rooms but my sister Susan would always sleep in her bed when she came to visit because Mom’s bed was the best. Everyone who was at her house at some point would find themself lounging about on my mother’s bed. My mother made bed-making into an art form. Her pillows were soft and plentiful and her sheets were luxurious. But translating that to real life, what she did was to create comfort around herself. We can all honor her by splurging on the creature comforts in our home and create that safe, soft haven that welcomes us.
Number 7---take more pictures. My mother took more photos than anyone I knew---she also managed to display them all. If you were at the funeral home yesterday you saw just a smidgen of the photos she had. And if you were there yesterday I sincerely hope you saw the marvelous video that my Aunt Gayle put together with some of Mom’s photos. She loved photos of friends and family and usually had her photos to the developer within hours of taking them. Take photos and share them with everyone. There is no greater artwork in this world than the human face.
Number 6---Keep a clean house. I have failed miserably at this…she was such a tidy house keeper and I am nothing but a mess…never dirty, just messy. Her home was ready for “Better Homes and Gardens” to come and photograph it at any moment. When her father died she took on keeping the house to help my grandmother out when she went back to work. I was told a story about her neat-nick ways that makes me laugh. Back in the early 60’s, when my mother and her siblings were young, my Uncle Phil was home relaxing. Suddenly my Uncle Steve ran through the house yelling “Run for your lives!” and raced out of the house. My Uncle John soon followed suit and jumped out the window. The next thing that Phil saw was my mother making a mad dash through the house and she forced Phil, along with Jane, Gayle and the others, out of the house. When my grandmother came home she found 5 of her 6 children waiting on the front porch, locked out of the house. It seems that my mother had done her cleaning and they weren’t allowed back in---no matter what. Her housekeeping skills continued on to her adult life. She had a maid that had absolutely nothing to do. She threw out her clutter and kept things so organized. Her closet is a work of art. She never had to worry that her house wasn’t tidy enough for anyone to drop on by. Speaking of which, that brings up:
Number 5----Throw more parties! My mother was the hostess with the mostest. Martha Stewart had nothing on her. She gave great parties. She was the social director for whatever community she lived in. When I was young I can remember sitting with my sisters and brother and watching all of my Mom and Dad’s friends come in to the parties they gave. They had fabulous parties…costume parties, hunting parties, dancing parties, teas, casino parties, bridge parties and benefit parties. They entertained heads of state and heads of the school. We loved to watch her get dressed for a party and always were amazed that she could look so beautiful each and every time. Our home was the gathering place for the web of friends that she had in Kingsville. I remember Sunday afternoons spent with our family friends coming by---the kids stayed in the pool until we were long past the prune stage, the dads would stand around and drink beer until it was time to watch Peyton cook the burgers, and the moms would lay in their chairs sunning themselves while wearing curlers in the hair covered by a silly cap or bandana. Why those women lounged in the sun in hair curlers is beyond me, but I can still see that group of people at my house as if it was yesterday. She could even turn a hairdressing adventure into a party. In the early 70’s I remember her friends showing up, armed with home “frost your hair” kits, Lancer’s Rose wine, and cigarettes for those who smoked. The would seat themselves around my mother’s long vanity area and pull each other’s hair through the frosting caps…all the while yakking and drinking wine. As the evening wore on my sister Noel and I became hot commodities because we could pull the hair through the caps for them when they got a little too tipsy to do it right. They would emerge a few hours later, full of wine, full of fun, with head’s full of frosted hair---they all looked a little like Bea Arthur in her “Maude” days…and my mother was their queen. Those were some of the greatest times of my life, and I think my siblings will agree. Most of the best times were never a planned thing…it was just that everyone knew that our family and my mother would welcome everyone and no one had to put much thought to it. Have a party---we are, because she would want us to!
Number 4----Support education. It was so important to my mother that we got an education. I know the day my sister Sarita graduated was one of the proudest days of her life. My graduation from A&M was a triumph for both of us because she never went to college. Her siblings went to various universities and she was proud of their accomplishments. She tried to give us the best education possible. While in Kingsville she sent us to an amazing Episcopal school. When the time came to educate my own children I feel so blessed that I too found an amazing Episcopal school for my children. I use what she did for us as a blueprint for how to raise my own children and I was pleased that I can give such a wonderful educational gift to them. My mother loved going to St. Francis and seeing her grandchildren perform, or attending grandparent day, or even just picking them up in the carpool line. She so believed in the school that she participated in the school’s capital campaign and regularly gave to the Annual Giving program. But her dedication to good education didn’t stop with her grandchildren’s school----she gave scholarships to A&M, helped build on to our school when we were children, and she helped out with various projects at Texas A&I when she lived in Kingsville. So give to the school of your choice and support it well, she would really like that.
Number 3--- Drink more water and exercise more. Was there ever a time that we didn’t see her drinking water? She never ordered anything in a restaurant but water. She was a connoisseur of water and she drank it by the gallon. She always had a bottle of water and kept several pitchers of it in her fridge. It’s good for you and won’t interrupt your sleep…so toast her with your next glass and drink it more often. And get out there and work out! My mother loved to exercise…she was in amazing shape and she worked hard at it. She loved to walk with her friends in the morning and she also loved going to the Houstonian to work out. She enjoyed trying all kinds of classes but usually stuck to her walks with friends when the weather was nice. I know that she managed to get many of you out of the house to walk with her and I only wish she had made me do so more often with her---then I might fit into more of her gorgeous clothes! Take care of your health---she would want you to.
Number 2---Go to church. My mother loved coming to St. Michael’s. She loved this church and she loved the Catholic Church. She often walked to mass from her house so that she could exercise both her body and her spirit. She loved her faith and she clung to it. She loved Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and God. She prayed for all of us…so let us all remember her in our prayers and thank God for her life because He did such good work when he created her.
Number 1---love your family, spoil your children, but ridiculously spoil your grandchildren. My mother was the most beautiful and wonderful mother a person could have. She did the best she could after the divorce and I think we all turned out pretty well. But where she really shined was in the “grandmother department’. Nona, as the grandkids call her, was the best grandmother a child could have. She spoiled them rotten and loved them with the fiercest of loves. She taught them so many things and she could spend hours listing their virtues to anyone who would listen. She was devoted to her mother and she loved her brothers and sisters so very much. She was the oldest child and was their second mother since some of them are much younger than she was. Her family, children, siblings, and mother and grandchildren were the light in her life…and she was such a strong light in ours. We will all be a little dimmer without her to shine on.
In closing I want to finish with a story of how all of this got put into perspective for me. Over the last few days I have been told so many things and been given much sympathy and advice. But the true meaning of how I, and those of us who loved her, are to carry on were best expressed by Connally Dull. Connally is the sweet 3 year old daughter of my good friends Christy and John Dull. I left the Dulls, Connally, and her 2 sisters at my house to go and sign the papers to release my mother’s body to the funeral home. The Dulls said they would stay to answer the phone and the door while George and I were gone. When I stepped back into the house I began to cry once again. Connally looked up at me with her beautiful big eyes and opened her sweet mouth and said “Why you crying? Your mommy in HEAVEN!” I couldn’t have said it better myself…Sometimes it takes a child to put things in perspective.
I love you all…