The Eulogy Never Given

My Unnatural Life with my Mother

I once listened to a meditation where the leader was saying that we should find that warm, comfortable, safe place you have stored in your memory.   The place where you felt you were good, loved, safe and felt the warmth of the light.  He gave suggestions about where to find this in our past and the first suggestion was to think of your mother, and what she gave to you.  It’s reflective of the natural course of events that a mother will unconditionally love their child, give warmth, love, support, safety and strength to their child.  However, the words of this meditation leader didn’t resonate with me.  He was not speaking of my mother, or my relationship with her.

For as long as I can remember I was anxious, and worried about pleasing my mother.  As a child I always believed that her happiness was my responsibility.  I needed to please her all the time.  To do or act the way she thought I should.  I never saw her as an ally or asset.  I never got strength from her. She was never someone to turn to when I had one of the many normal problems of a child growing up.  My father felt this way as well.  He was dedicated to making my mother happy.  I had no allies.  I only had myself.  For others in my family it was much worse.  One of my brothers was tormented by my mom.  He was unable to make her happy or give her what she needed so she was more negative towards him than to me.  I realized something was missing in my life during my middle years and got help.  With great therapists I figured it all out and this led to self-awareness that has made me someone who is able to give love.  I’m still a loner on many levels, but I enjoy close relationships with family, and friends, and most importantly with myself.

We all learn how to BE from our parents and mostly our mothers.  I am okay today because of my mother, but not because she taught me to be this way but because I learned from her what not to do in relationships, and how not to act to my family and friends.  In a Buddhist group that I attended one time I asked, “How can I get along with people in my life that hurt me?”  The teacher said that I should thank them for the lessons I am learning from them such as how to tolerate pain from others and realize through the pain I’m feeling from them that I am learning how not to act to others.  This great lesson helped me get along with my mother for the rest of her life.  Because of how my mother treated me and as I watched, how she treated the others in my life, I was able to learn from her how not to be, and I became a better father, husband, brother and friend.

In this unnatural way of growing up, with the pain I have felt through the years from my mother, and as I watched her hurt so many people close to me, and as she goes towards her final resting place, I can say thank you mom for making me the man I am today.  It’s an unnatural path to take in finding gratitude for my mother.

I write this to myself to help me find closure and with the idea that this is something she will never know or could ever understand.


I’m sitting here listening to the shallow rhythmic breathing of my mom. We are waiting for the ambulance to come to take her home. That realization has the ring of going home to Portofino Place but also of going to her eternal home. Very soon my mom will be going home.

This kind of understanding took a while to sink in. She came to the hospital 2 weeks ago and we never thought the end was so close. We never had a reason to think that. But now finally it is sinking in. When the gastro doctor said she cannot eat anymore without a feeding tube the truth didn’t sink in.  When her team of doctors said that I need to speak with the hospice team it didn’t sink in.  When I asked the doctor what she can eat when she gets home, he said anything she wants. It doesn’t matter he told me. Just let her be comfortable and as happy as possible. For some reason it just sunk in.  She hasn’t stopped sleeping since I got here. When she wakes up for a few seconds it’s unclear what she is saying.  Reality has sunk in.

I’m sad that soon I won’t have a parent. Even her being the protagonist she always was, it will be odd to live in a world without her.  She was the protagonist of so many people. I think Ron will miss her the most. She beat him up daily and yet he is taking it the hardest since his life will change the most.

My thoughts go back to the death of my father, being in the hospital and having so little to do with the decisions and I think I was detached from the emotional pain of it. I am thinking of that a lot the last few days. I wonder why it was like that. Dad had Harriet to make the decisions.  No one ever asked me what I thought. Now I, being the healthcare proxy, am asked so many questions and yet for some reason I know to confer with my brothers and with Ron to keep them involved. It’s not because I need their input but because they need to have input. I get it. With my mom’s impending end upon us, this will be a time we all remember as a time of sadness, of course, but also of having so much support while being part of a large family. Positivism came from that because we all went through this together.

I suppose the reality of mom’s condition is written all over my face.  Dr. Cheuk just came into the room to sit with me and talk. She gave words of encouragement and deep respect for our family. She told me that mom’s kidney creatine level is higher than it should be so she can’t take the blood thinner for the blood clot she has in her leg. She asked if that’s okay. Another decision. She asked when she gets home and gets sick will we be bringing her to the hospital.  Another decision.  The doctors at Huntington Hospital are extremely caring. She just sat quietly with me for quite a few minutes, silently, and then slowly stood up.  We hugged, I thanked her, and she left.   I will always appreciate those moments with Dr. Cheuk.

This realization is clear.  The end is approaching.