Jeff Warrin's Eulogy
'Farewell Mom'

When my mother took her last breath and passed from this life, it was the end of a two-year battle with cancer that had evaporated her body but left her generous heart and sly sense of humor intact.

Those that knew my mother will remember her infinite enthusiasm and her ability to make everyone of our friends feel like a part of our family. Throughout my childhood our house was the social epicenter of our neighborhood. Each day after school and for entire summers our friends would flock to our house for wiffle-ball games, fort construction projects, band practice, demolition derbies, backyard camp-outs, ice-cream making, etc. All because my mom loved people and fun and creativity and community and didn’t mind a little havoc thrown in.

This spirit of inclusion continued as my brothers and I became adults and my mom would make sure that any of our friends who did not have a family gathering to attend would be invited to ours. My mom would do more than just invite you to a Thanksgiving or Christmas party, she would go out of her way to help you feel like you belonged there.

For all of our creative and collaborative pursuits my mom had an unending supply of support and enthusiasm. She attended more experimental film screenings and performances than your average film-school graduate and played my brothers’ cd’s on heavy rotation. Whatever worries she had that maybe some of us should get “real” jobs she managed to serve to us thickly covered in sweet praise for our creative endeavors.

My mom was tough too. Raising four rambunctious boys as a single parent was heroic. There were many times as teenagers that we came close to making bad decisions and screwing up. My mom could sense it and knew when to lay down the law. I don’t know where that strength came from but she could stand us down when she needed to. She loved to tell the story of when I was on the high-school football team and getting cocky. She challenged me to a blocking match one evening right in our kitchen. I really tried but she beat me, pushing me back a few feet towards the fridge.

These last two years have been tough. She being diagnosed with melanoma cancer seemed like such a cruel injustice. Helping her navigate the maze of treatments, tests, and prognoses was at times unbearable for me. I can only imagine the strength it took for her to stay hopeful. Even after she decided not to pursue further treatment, she did not complain or seek pity. She wanted only to be with her family.

As she became bedridden over the last two months things became even more difficult. Her sister along with her sons had the privilege of trying to ease her pain and to comfort her as the cancer ate away the last muscles in her body. Still in these most dire circumstances she could crack you up. Like the time when she was going over her will with my brothers and said “there’s one more very important thing…” and then dropped her head back feigning death before opening an eye for a mischievous wink.

This final month of constant vigil also proved transformative and created some of the most beautiful and spiritually fulfilling moments of all of our lives. The Jesuit priest performing a “healing of the sick” ceremony with us and creating the space for each of us to speak to my mom directly from the heart. We all laid our hands on her and filled her with energy and love, bringing her from a near coma that day to eating with us at the dinner table. And the night all four brothers played guitar and sang songs together at her bedside until midnight. The image of her lifting those bone arms to clap her hands to the beat and the beaming smile that she radiated will live with me forever. Little pleasures became so magnified and gave her temporary relief in a way that made me feel privileged to deliver them. The way she floated when sucking on her favorite popsicle as if there was no greater pleasure in life. At night we would read e-mails from her friends and family and from those of my friends that knew her. I had administered many milliliters of morphine to my mom over time but never did it produce the sense of well being that she got from those letters.

On the morning of July 10th I awoke from sleeping on the floor next to my mom’s bed. I had registered in my sleep that I had not heard one of her rattling breaths in a while and I stood up to see her body motionless. I knew that another breath would not come and yet her heart was still beating. That generous, loving, selfless, joyful heart kept going like a midsummer evening sky that glows red well after the sun has set. I stood there and watched as the pulse in her neck slowed until it too stopped forever.

Farewell, mom. Thank you for this gift of life and love.

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