Reflections and Readings From Do's Memorial Service
“Come Sing a Song with Me!” During the last few years I often sang that song to my Mom...out in the garden, here in this chapel. Do had always loved music. In high school she was 1st chair trumpet in the band, played French horn in the orchestra, marched in the marching band. A number of times she played her trumpet at festive church services on Easter and Christmas...from the balcony in Bozeman, in Salem and at St. Michael’s Lutheran here in Portland. One of the young college students she played with in Bozeman and later in Salem, Don Johnson has remained a family friend and is here today.
The pre-service music would have thrilled her. It does thrill her!
Do played piano by ear and loved to play hymns. She had a theory that we, her children would do our Saturday morning chores with more vigor and enthusiasm if she played loud spirituals on our hi-fi while we worked. As a family we sang when we drove in the car. When Mom was mad at us, she tightened her lips and hummed hymns to make us feel guilty. (My take on it.)
When our father died nine years ago and Do’s dementia was rapidly increasing, and music had seemed to have gone out of her life, (she no longer sang, played, or seemed to even enjoy listening to music) some of our family wondered how long she would live and what quality of life she would have. As the years progressed and Do increasingly lost her ability to communicate verbally, we wondered what purpose there was for her life. We asked why her life continued.
These last few weeks, sitting by Do’s bedside and watching her making her departure has been a rich and meaningful experience for my sisters and I.
As we thought Do was drawing closer to leaving us, we drew the drapes around her bed, closed the door, played soft music, held her hand, hugged her, stroked her and had our private time to mourn her passing.
Then on the Tuesday before she died, I pulled up the blinds, drew back the curtain and opened the door. People peeked in, came in, hugged and kissed her, hugged us and shared their rich stories about Do, and with some prodding shared a bit about themselves as they reached out to us.
Even though Do has not been able to communicate verbally very much since she came to Laurelhurst Village, she had become a valued member of this community and I came to realize what these past years had been about.
Do had lived so long so that she could touch a few more lives. So that the loving, many hued caregivers and staff here could touch her life. So that we as Do’s family, including our little granddaughter, Elena, could experience this place and we could let joy and love rub off on each other. This place brought the music back into her life.
I think my Mom’s purpose throughout her life was touching lives in loving, caring ways. May we carry on that legacy.
Was held February 25th, 2018 at Laurelhurst Village Chapel in Portland.
"We Need One Another" by George Odell:
We need one another when we mourn and want comfort.
We need one another when we are in trouble and are afraid.
We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.
We need one another when we strive to accomplish some great purpose, and realize we cannot do it alone.
We need one another in the hour of success, when we look for someone to share triumphs.
We need one another in the hour of defeat, when with encouragement we try to endure, and stand again.
We need one another when we come to die and seek gentle hands to prepare us for the journey.
All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.
Reflection from Gretchen
Bliss Carmen writes, “Lord of the far horizon give us eyes to see, over verge of sundown, the beauty that is yet to be.” That verse reflects two of mom’s deeply held values: faith and beauty.
Mom’s faith was simple: she believed that she was lovingly created by a compassionate, merciful and patient God. This brought her joy and purpose, and she lived her life loving, serving and, often entertaining others. Simple yes, but also profoundly deep and satisfying.
Mom was beautiful. Looking at her high school photographs, on the cusp of womanhood, her hair was dark and curly, her eyes playful, her skin lovely, her smile amazing. Her beauty was not aloof or angular. Hers was round and soft, warm and inviting.
She stayed beautiful all her life.
Mom created beauty: She made music; set up house in often tiny cottages; sewed curtains, clothes and bedspreads; set a pretty table with colorful linens, centerpieces and silverware set on the correct sides of the plates. She was a disciple of Heloise. She scrubbed, washed, removed stains, ironed, sorted, organized, mended and polished. She made candles, decorated for holidays, quilted, pressed flowers and made greeting cards and did countless other random acts of beauty.
And mom loved the beauty of God’s creation: animal, mineral and vegetable. She would spot a brown deer on a brown mountain-side and then spend 10 minutes directing our eyes to its location. She could identify birds and flowers, in the wilds and in the garden. She loved dogs and they loved her. She loved water: the ocean, lakes, rivers and waterfall, Montana criks and Oregon creeks. She loved mountains and meadows, valleys and vistas and the wide open prairie.
The hymn “Beautiful Savior” expresses her joy and faith.
Reflection from Ralph (son-in-law)
At our first home in our first year in PDX Linda and I had a garden that produced an enormous zucchini. We decided to wrap it up in a baby blanket and deliver it to Ozzie and Do who lived about a block away. Do opened the door, smiled at us, looked at the “baby” and said: “It looks like Ralph.” I knew then that I would get along with my mother-in-law just fine.
Do, Dorothy, from the Greek: Doron Theos (gift of God). Do was a gift to her wonderful parents and she was a gift to us … who keeps on giving. In ways known and unknown, she taught us to:
Have courage and take a risk --- she moved away from her family in Ohio and her comfort zone on a mission for God and with her man, to make a new life in the wild west.
She taught us to: Make do with what you have and that you can have a lot with a little --- when life gives you freezer-burned wild game, try to make it taste like hamburger.
She taught us to: Make the mundane special --- gift-wrap socks and undies for your kids at Christmas.
She taught us to: Meditate with your hands --- make quilts, polish driftwood, do puzzles, press flowers.
She taught us to: Be resilient --- when you break both shoulders (at the same time), a leg, a hip and replace a knee (all in her last years), she bounced back. She faced stress with grace, quiet strength and lots of humor and hearty laughs.
The NT says: “By their fruits you will know them.” I think Do’s greatest gifts were her fruits. Mark, Christa, Gretchen and my best friend Linda are “fruits” in the best sense of that word. These fine people --- yes, flawed, as we all are --- are caring, creative, competent, charitable, community-minded, articulate, smart, talented, justice-oriented, wise and witty --- like their Mom.
And then there are fruits of fruits: Emily, Kalin and Elliot --- we see Do and her gifts in you. She is and will always be part of you and her gifts will flow through you to others.
Do’s increasing frailty became another gift, an opportunity to help her great granddaughter Elena (Kalin and Kate’s daughter) become a gift-giver too. She visited Do regularly in this building --- helping to push her wheelchair, bringing her pretty leaves, flowers and stones, interacting with her and singing and dancing to the joy of many who live and work here. … And we will also see Do and her gifts in Maggie and Jack (Emily and Brook’s children) and we will see her in Jenn and Elliot’s baby daughter who will enter our world in April.
Even in death, Do gives us a parting gift of helping us to remember that the remaining moments we have in this life are precious … and that all of our past moments have been final moments … final moments that became the doorway to the next moments of our life … just as Do’s last moment was the threshold to her new life.
Most of Do’s gifts to us were not the result of conscious gift-giving but rather flowed from the core of who she was and the roles she willingly accepted and faithfully executed. In hard times and when suffering from hurt or ill-treatment, she chose to keep on doing what she always did for people--- listening, treating others with kindness and respect, attending meetings, cleaning house, cooking meals, washing and mending clothes --- doing what people relied on her to do. This is what forgiveness in action means. This is what faithfulness means. With the NT we can say: “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” … And, I can imagine Ozzie now singing this song to her:
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way,
You always walked a step behind.
So I was the one with all the glory
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.
It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
But I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.
Thank you, thank you.
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.
Let our tears flow freely. They are a fitting memorial to one who has given us much. Don’t bottle them up. They will cleanse and heal our spirits … today … and also … in all those moments of remembering Do … that will take us by surprise in the future.
Do believed that God loved her and that he would prepare a place for her in a blessed community of everlasting love, joy and peace. Whether this is our own belief or not, it IS … it IS a wonderfully comforting glimpse into the mystery of life beyond life.
In that spirit we are thankful and joyful that God has blessed and kept Do and has graciously welcomed her to her new home.
Do, we love you and miss you. Give our love to Ozzie, Doris and Ralph.
Reflection from Christa
During the first 5 years of my life, when Mark, Linda, and Gretchen were in primary and middle school, I spent a lot of time alone with Mom.
After everyone else would leave in the morning, we would begin with our exercise routine: romping about the room with Jack Lalaine. It was great fun for me, probably not so much for her.
I remember sitting on the tall red chair in the kitchen, as she lovingly made cookies for us. I would solve the arithmetic story problems she would make up for me, or spell words she carefully selected, to make sure I was successful most of the time, or just listen to stories about her momma.
I remember folding mounds of laundry with her. She always found some way to make it - and every other chore, like dusting the dozens of salt & pepper shakers she had collected over the years - seem like a playful game.
I remember begging her to lie down with me at nap time. She would lie next to me, and I would hook my arm through hers so she would have to stay with me, but then would later awaken to find that she had managed to sneak away. Too much do when raising a family of 6 to take a nap.
I remember taking ice skating lessons with her, outside in the frigid Montana winters.
Imagine us, mother and daughter, arm in arm, gliding across the ice (maybe “slipping” is a better word), then tumbling to the ground together, hearing her gleeful laughter, and feeling ludicrously joyful as we lay in a heap on the cold ice, with the endless blue Montana sky above us.
I remember those years as being the happiest of my life. She made me feel safe. I always knew she loved me. She was my best friend.
Eight years later, when Mark, Linda, and Gretchen had all gone off to college, there were 5 more years of having her mostly to myself. She guided me through those years of teenage angst with a listening ear, gentle humor, stories of her own high school years . . . and dozens of chocolate chip cookies.
Mom taught me to cook and set a beautiful table, to sew and dress with style.
She instilled in me a love for numbers and words that stays with me to this day.
But she also taught me to not take myself too seriously.
She showed me that it is more important to listen than to speak.
She taught me to appreciate the quiet beauty in nature, not so much the mountains, but the tiny flowers and the animals.
She challenged me to see imaginary faces and figures outlined in the clouds.
She taught me to have compassion for all beings, giving my stuffed animals personalities, convincing me that all creatures are worthy of care and respect.
And she imparted to me the only essential beauty trick: to smile.
In the nine years since my dad died, Mom’s time living in various facilities was not one of joyous purpose of her own choosing. She was often confused and frustrated because she was unable to carry on a conversation, or to simply complete a sentence. Yet she touched the lives of so many caregivers and residents with her smile, and with humor that she managed to express even when she was no longer able to speak.
When Mom smiled, her eyes smiled too, with a sparkle that stayed with her even when times were hard. The last time Mom smiled at me, she didn’t have her teeth in, and yet the smile transformed her face, and she was beautiful.
We thank all of you who appreciated her smile.
We thank all of you who cared for her when we weren’t around.
We thank all of you who enriched her life.
We thank all of you who let us know how much you loved her.
I believe that my Mom’s purpose, throughout her life, was to make other people’s lives better. This she did until the very end. How blessed we have been to have had her in our lives.
Her final, and greatest, lesson to me was that you don't need to do anything monumental to have a remarkably positive impact on the many people you encounter in life. Her smile was worth a thousand words.
Now is the time of your grief . . . but I will see you again, and you will rejoice . . . and no one will take away that joy.