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One Year Ago

Posted by on Feb 23, 2013 in Family | 2 comments

One year ago today, I lost my mother. This video was playing during the wake, it’s a compilation of clips of my mother.

This was the eulogy I gave at her funeral. There really are no words to describe losing a parent. Having a newborn son at home just makes it that much more poignant. It is a long eulogy, but the gist of it is … hug the people you love. Make sure they know you love them. Life is a precious gift and the people we care about deserve to know it. At the end of the day, all we really have is the love we give.

Miss you everyday, M<3M.

My Mother’s Eulogy

Hi Everyone, I’d like to start by thanking each of you for coming out today in remembrance and celebration of the life of my mother, Barbara Reuter. Especially considering the weather conditions! I know my sister, wife, and my uncle are all very grateful for the outpouring of support we have received in the last few days.

As most of you know, we lost our father a few short years ago as well, and the love and support that has been sent by all of you have truly helped us move through this time with some small level of sanity.

It’s hard to talk about my mother without talking about the kind of, well, mother that she was. One of the things I heard over and over again at her wake last night was how much she loved us. My sister and I wrote this in the obituary for my mother, but it is so true: we were both truly the recipients of an overabundance of love in our household. I can’t even begin to count the number of times my mother would hug onto me and whisper in my ear, “I love you so much”, or give me a bear hug and make that urrghurghurghurgh noise she would do and then see who could squeeze the hardest. I remember those hugs literally taking my breath away. She would sign all of her cards to us on birthdays M – Heart – M (that’s why we did it that way on our piece for our mother). Those great memories go back as far as I can remember and as recently as when we took her out for her 62nd birthday just a few weeks ago.

As we prepared for today, my sister and I spent a lot of time going through old home movies of our family and our lives growing up. It’s an amazingly deep look at the kind of person my mother was …. just trying her absolute best to create an environment where my sister and I could flourish and grow.

Along with that love came an attention to detail and an appreciation for the small things. There are all kinds of unique, small memories that I know we will carry with us forever. Those delicious paper-thin crepes with Nutella on a Sunday morning. The table, perfectly set for every easter, Christmas, or birthday breakfast. Even the yardwork, which interestingly enough my dad would normally videotape while my mother was raking leaves or shoveling snow, was always perfectly done. She would sit at the sewing machine for hours, crafting handmade costumes for each Halloween, sewing each piece of fabric together very deliberately, trying to make the needle and thread work together in a way that would weave an unforgettable experience for her children. She would spend all night on Dec 23rd (those who knew us know we celebrated a German traditional Christmas on Christmas eve) wrapping presents, making sure each bow was perfect and each present was unique and beautiful … because she knew when my sister and I saw them our eyes would light up, and all that effort would be paid back with the smiles and joy she saw in her children. These are the memories of my childhood.

Now, anyone who knew my mother knows she was a bit more complex than that! She gave great advice …. but she didn’t always follow it. She also had a habit of speaking honestly about her opinions on basically anything, often for better but occasionally for worse. But no matter what was said, you never had to guess what my mother thought about something. It was out there in the open for the world to see, and in a way I think that’s commendable. There’s something very noble about being true to yourself as a person and not just playing the role you feel you need to fit.

She would also say when my sister and I were upset about something,  “you make your own fun” – something that means a lot to me, maybe more than she ever intended it to. To me, it has come to represent no excuses … no blaming someone else. Take responsibility for your actions and create your own destiny. Again, not a piece of advice she necessarily always followed .. haha.

Beyond that are a million other little idiosynchracies that come to define my mother … things like her telling us that smudging our name on a birthday cake was good luck, even though I had never heard of that from anyone else. When Facebook came around, I was naturally skeptical about friending my mother on it. Once I did, I realized she “liked” quite literally every thing every one posted. I think it was my sister who told me she confronted her once about this, saying “Mom, you can’t like everything everyone posts!”, to which her honest reply was, “But I do!”, followed by that contagious laugh that she had.

In recent years, things had been difficult for my mother, particularly after the stroke in 2006. There were certainly some challenging years there. I remember visiting her in the hospital and bringing Maui, our labrador retriever puppy, to visit her, and she would sniff his paws and exclaim, I’m so excited to see Maui!” and her face would just light up. In these recent years, I came to respect and love my mother in ways that weren’t as obvious as when I was a teenager and perhaps I couldn’t appreciate as a child. Our relationship became more nuanced. But, no matter the ups and downs we went through together, her love was always 100% faultless.

In my mothers last few months, I started the journey to becoming a parent on my own with my beautiful wife. My mother was so excited … in a way I hadn’t seen in a long time. The baby boy that my wife is carrying gave my mother a sense of joy and exuberance that was contagious. She would stay up nights and email my wife pictures of every little outfit she found. She spent every last penny she had on all the different things that go onto a baby registry.

She did what she had always done – she shared in the experiences of those around her. She took joy when they were joyful, and felt sorrow when they were sorrowful. She had a truly deep level of empathy and compassion. That was my mother.

There are so many more memories that we all love and share about my mother. I’d love to talk about all of then, but we’d be here for several more weeks, and I don’t know if Father Stephen would appreciate that. But I would be remiss if I didn’t take this eulogy a step further. My mother would have encouraged me to make this more personal. So please … in honor of my mother, please take a moment at some point today to reach out to someone you love and express that love to them. – Squeeze their hand, or give them a great big bear hug, or as my mom would say, give them a wet kiss. Share with them the love that I know my mother shared with my sister and I and many of you in this church. That would have put a big smile on her face.

My sister wanted me to say one thing on her behalf, another great example of the love my mother would have. We used to play this game that I had actually forgotten about, but that my sister and my mother continued to play even recently on the phone after her and Jimmy moved to Colorado. Basically, the way the game works is that we would try to out do each other on how much we loved each other. We would start by finding some inanimate object around us … like a blade of grass .. and say I love you more than all the blades of grass in all the fields in the world. And then you would have to find some other object … could be any ridiculous thing … felt in a carpet, and she would say I love you more than all the pieces of fiber in all the carpets in the world. It always ended with, “in the world”.

My sister and I sat in the hallway yesterday at our hotel room thinking about this, and laughing about how we would say, “It’s not possible to love someone that much” and my mother would reply, “But I do!”.

Stef wanted me to tell you, mom, that she loves you more than all the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.

From all of us, Mom: you were a blessing to the world. It won’t be the same without you, but we will carry you with us for the rest of our lives. We love you and miss you so much, but know you are with us all the time.

Thank you, and don’t forget to tell your loved ones that you love them.

Landon’s Birth Story

Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in Family | 0 comments

Check out the video I put together of Landon’s first few days on Planet Earth!