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Tuesday, 06 December 2011

Living in the Moment – Part 1

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronni here. Recently, I have become a member of the City of Lake Oswego 50-Plus Advisory Board and through that group, have begun working on local elder issues with some amazing, smart, strong women from agencies within the town and the county community. You will be hearing about some of this at Time Goes By as – well, time goes by.

Meanwhile, one of the women, Mary Ann Hard, who is the Family Caregiver Support Program Coordinator at Clackamas County Social Services, let me read the beautiful eulogy she gave at her mother's memorial service last July. I immediately thought of The Elder Storytelling Place and Mary Ann graciously agreed to let me publish it here.

I have taken the liberty of titling her eulogy, Living in the Moment and am posting it in three parts – today, tomorrow and Thursday.

By Mary Ann Hard

I am Mary Ann Hard. (Hold up fingers – 5, then 4, then 3). If you are from a big family you will understand the lingo: I am from a family of five children, fourth child and third daughter. I am a transplanted Southerner living in Portland, Oregon.

One of the things I love about being back in the South is that I can refer to my mother as Mama no matter my age and everyone understands: “Once your mama always your mama.” In Oregon, not so much.

I love the fact that Southerners really know how to hug. Oregonians give kind of tepid hugs. Here, we give bone crushing, realign your spine kind of hugs. I must say that in Oregon I have been told I give the best hugs. I learned from the best, “Mama.”

I also love the way people talk here. In Oregon, Southerners are known for taking too long to get to the point. Oregonians will finish the story for you. They don’t seem to know that it is in the telling of the story and the details of the story that a lot of gold can mined.

Oregonians also don’t seem to understand that asking everyone how they are, even total strangers, is as natural as breathing. Most importantly, Southerners know that if you’ve asked the question, you stick around for the answer and commiserate. I learned from the best, “Mama.”

I have often been asked by my boys, when I’ve talked to someone on the street or in a store for several minutes about anything from the weather to politics, where I know that person from. They’ve often been dumbfounded when I reply, “I don’t know them, we were just enjoying talking with one another.” I learned that from the best, “Mama.”

On behalf of the family, we want to thank you all so much for coming to celebrate the life of a truly remarkable, courageous, beautiful, faithful servant of Christ and one of a kind woman, Mary Lou Hard. Today would have been Mama’s 82nd birthday.

First, I want to do something a little unorthodox: I want to ask - and please raise your hand if the answer is yes - how many of you were related to Mama? How many of you were her students at one time or another? How many of you taught with her? how many of you knew her through All Saints Church? Through St. Thomas’ Church? Through bridge? How many of you were her neighbors in one life or another?

Did I leave anyone out? Mama had a wide, eclectic, amazing, supportive group of people who loved her and whom she loved!

In the past two-and-a-half years, she developed another set of friends and loved ones in Oregon. These past two-and-a-half years are what I want to share with you now.

Mama came to Oregon because she had hip surgery which was complicated by her Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. After the surgery in Tuscaloosa, it was determined by doctors, other professionals and family members that Mama could no longer live alone. The best facility for her was near me in Portland, Oregon.

She was not happy to make the move and who can blame her. She had lost total control of her independence, left her beloved friends behind without a chance to goodbye to hardly any of them at all, and she knew deep down inside that she was failing mentally faster than she was physically.

When we were children, Mama was famous for lecturing for what seemed like all eternity if we misbehaved or had been disrespectful or had broken windows or stayed out past curfew or changed our grades on our report card and been caught, been involved in setting a garage on fire, sneaking the family car out without permission and many other transgressions that were benchmarks in our growing up years.

For you who had Mama as a principal and were sent to her office when you were in trouble, at least you got to leave and go back to your school room. We had nowhere to go.

What made her lectures so difficult was so very often she was right, but a spanking would have been quicker.

Living in the Moment - Part 2
Living in the Moment - Part 3

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


So loving and beautiful, the words come right from the heart. I also felt devotion, respect, understanding and all loving and tender words that show a strong bond.

How wonderfully told, thank you Mary for allowing Ronni to share this. I think you describe Southern comfort, the ability to just be there, even with strangers. We all could learn from this.

Lovely, agree with both writers above..waiting for tomorrow to read Part II..

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