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Portrait of the artist as a young woman.

Yesterday, I said there was more to come. Just a little bit.

At Mom’s service, I was able to speak for a few minutes, and the text is below.

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First things first: the parish is responsible for the selection and performance of the beautiful music today. The moments of silence during and after Communion are courtesy of Mom, who appreciated beautiful music at Mass, but always longed for silence around the Eucharist so she could ponder her actual Communion with God. 

Patricia was a talented artist. Her work and talent had been praised by no less than Jamie Wyeth of the famous American Wyeth family, and she painted every day she could. Whenever I was home sick from school she would muster me downstairs into the backroom that served as her studio and make me pose while she sketched. As a child, I was really worried because, as far as I could tell, people didn’t buy art. Moms cooked and cleaned and painted all the pictures for the house, and all I could do on that list was make brownies.

She was a dedicated mother to five children. She didn’t want to be defined by that, certainly, but Mom attacked the role with energy and determination and yes, grim resolve. Her home was spotless, her meals were nutritionally complete, and the trains ran on time. As a mom, she was a brilliant artist, but even so we saw on so many occasions how fiercely she wanted to protect us.

She was devout in her faith, of course, and in so many ways defined by *that.*. I can confidently say that she is glad for one thing today: that all her kids are at a Mass together, and if she had to die to make that happen, well, that’s a small price to pay.

Mom believed in life ever after and the communion of saints. I believe that I will see her again one day, and that she will greet me the way she always has: she’ll cock her head, look me up and down, and say, “Doesn’t that need to be ironed?”

That faith of hers served all of us well. If you are here, it is likely that you’ve been on her famous prayer list at one time or another. Heck, if you’re here, it might be *because* you were on her list at one time or another. Of course she said a rosary every day, and of course our organized, determined mother kept a list of the people she was praying for. The process was simple: if you called and told her your concern, or even just that you had a special intention, she would get off the phone and pencil you in and then circle back later to get a status update and (and she could not stress this enough) make sure that you gave thanks right away. Giving thanks right away was very important.

Dad was a little exasperated when he told me, many years ago, and I quote:

“You think that she’s getting off the phone and penciling you in for the next rosary. What’s really happening is that she hangs up the phone and bellows, “GEORGE, BESS NEEDS HELP RIGHT NOW. GET IN THE LIVING ROOM AND BRING YOUR ROSARY. In short, DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY HAIL MARYS.”

She had a great track record; I suspected for years that God didn’t deny Mom much in the prayer department after not granting her biggest intentions for our brother Patrick. It was a tremendous comfort to me whenever I gave my intentions to Mom to pray on. It felt as if the pros had taken over and I knew that everything was going to be fine. I will admit to feeling a little selfishly unmoored now that my special intention safety net has left me.

Since she had such a brilliant prayer track record, I’m guessing that Mom never thought to pray for herself too, for things like confidence in her considerable talent, or confidence in the love her family had for her. I’m thinking that, given her current circumstances, she has those now, but she deserved to have them here in this life. We all do.

A wise person told me the other day that we still have Mom to put us on her prayer list, that she is closer than ever to the source of help, support, and light, and on Patricia’s behalf I will remind us all to give thanks for that right away.

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Of course Mom had her own ideas about how she wanted to be memorialized, and she would quote a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson often enough that I managed to remember it today. When the time comes for her and Dad to be interred, we’ll need to include this:

Under the wide and starry sky

Dig the grave and let me lie:

Glad did I live and gladly die

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:

Here he lies where he long’d to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

Goodnight, Mom. Welcome home.

© E. Stocking Evans 2019

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