We celebrated the life of my maternal grandmother, Florence Mrizek, this past Saturday. She had passed away in January at the age of 92, following a long series of illnesses which she stubbornly fought off. Her daughter Kathleen Gregg, (whom we all call Leonard), wrote this wonderful poem about her mother, and read it at her Memorial. I am thrilled to be able to share this with you.
A Eulogy in Four Vignettes
Walking in the door, home from school
it hits me: the
of just baked cookies.
And there they are, cooling on the counter,
ready for consumption.
My mouth waters, my stomach growls;
but my hand does not reach out for one.
Oh no, this is not allowed!
No cookies until
after dinner, mom's rule.
They are only on display as a teaser;
a delectable reward for a clean plate,
and, more importantly,
as a lesson in
It was out of the question for me to sneak one.
In hindsight, I can appreciate my mom's strict measures.
To this day, I still make myself wait.
It's mom's chorus practice, I've tagged along.
She and her cohorts are singing their hearts out
down in Eunie's basement;
laughing at some silly mistake, or miscue,
then yelling, "Let's take it from the top!"
all in serious preparation for their upcoming program.
These gals sure know how to have fun!
For them, music and companionship are intertwined;
and, on practice nights,
that bond becomes looped
I watch with delight from the sidelines,
their official "pretend"
a future chorus member, they joke.
Without realizing it,
I effortlessly learned every song in their repertoire.
Even now, I can still remember the words.
Those songs will always be a link to my mom.
Mom & I are going shopping in Peoria;
our first excursion via the brand new interstate
linking Morton to the" big city".
As we emerge from Bergner's several hours later,
we are greeted by a sudden and unexpected snowstorm
having it's way with the night.
This is not such a big deal when you live in Illinois;
unless you are my mom,
driving on an unfamiliar road,
where the lanes are completely obscured
by blowing and drifting snow
with me, her young daughter, as a passenger.
I had never before sensed fear in my mom;
she was trying her best to control it.
But, the cold reality of our situation
sat there between us.
For once, she didn't have to tell me to be quiet.
The way she was gripping the steering wheel,
and the set of her jaw,
kept any words stuck in my throat.
The long, tense journey to safety that night,
only reinforced the example my mom had always set:
being strong isn't just an option,
it's your only choice.
Christmas Eve, after midnight service,
my mom, my sister, and I
stop by Aunt Helen's before we head home.
The night is cold.
Stars fill the sky.
The snow glimmers in the sweep of our headlights
as we pull into her
Crunching our way to the front door,
I am struck by the almost sacred feel
to the absolutely silent countryside.
Once inside, warm and cozy,
we all gather around the kitchen table
with the requisite bowl of nuts in place.
Between the nut-cracking and the lively storytelling,
it's the usual noisy affair.
Our gift to each other that night
was to celebrate our family's sense of fun.
Nobody enjoyed a good laugh more than mom.
In her own odd way, this was her expression of love;
her special legacy to me.
So, here's to you,
I love you, too.