My Mom

The past two weeks have been a blur since my mom passed suddenly and unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism on December 20, 2010. Today, January 6, 2011, we celebrate her life on what would have been her 58th birthday.

The outpouring of love and support I have received from the blogging community has been nothing short of amazing. I shouldn't be amazed- I've seen you hold people up through their worst moments, over and over again.

For our family and friends who are not able to join us in person, my sister and I wanted to share our mom with you.
Below are the eulogies we each wrote and the slideshow we put together.

Your love, support and prayers have wrapped us tight and held us up during the worst hours of our lives. The gratitude we have is more than words could even begin to express, so a simple "Thank you" will have to suffice.


I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to say today. Wrapping up the complexities and love between a mother and daughter spanning 35 years is a daunting task. But when I do pour over the memories and who and what my mom was to me there is one thing that remains a constant. Love.

The love I came from, the love that filled my childhood, the love I searched for and found in my own partner.

My sister and I are living proof of the old adage, “the best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.” He loved her to the ends of the earth and back. Every day of every year of every decade they spent together. My sister and I grew up and followed my mom’s lead- marrying honest and kind men who we knew would make excellent fathers.

The way my mom loved me can be understood by every mother in this room. Deep, endless, complete and without conditions.

One of my earliest memories is being sent to my room for misbehaving and having my mom come in a few minutes later to say, “No matter how mad I get, I always love you. There is nothing you could ever do that would make me not love you.” My sister and I heard these words regularly throughout our childhood. What a gift. A gift to know that there was a love out there that would carry you through anything. And it did.

That love stood up for her 4 year old daughter when the local public elementary school refused to consider me as my birth date fell after the cutoff. They told her that while I could handle the work academically, socially I would eventually fall behind….. Upon their refusal, this love drove her to a private school and convinced them to test me. Wowed by my clearly superior intellect and non-stop chatter, I was accepted. That single decision changed the course of my life. My love for learning blossomed.

That love sat on my bed and cried with me when I lost the election for class secretary in third grade and 2 neighborhood girls ran by me on my walk home to tell me they didn’t vote for me.

That same love made every Halloween costume, cordoroy knickers and self-designed homecoming dress I ever asked for.

That love lead girl scout troops, volunteered at CCD and was classroom mom every year.

That love let me wear a party dress and tights to everyday of kindergarten.

That love rubbed my legs when the growing pains were too much to bear.

That love was first face I saw when I woke up from surgery at 10 years old and spent the next 5 nights on a cot next to my bed.

That love helped me rip out the carpet in my room and lay down a black and white checkered floor- because I had a vision and thought it would look so cool. {It did}

That love looked me square in the face during the height of my seventeen year-old-know-it-all-sassiness and said “I would have done anything to have had my mother at your age.” I now know exactly what she meant.

That love hugged me hard when I nervously told her I had given my brand new coat to a man at the soup kitchen.

That love sobbed in the other room when I packed up and left to try my hand at the University of Oklahoma. And then welcomed me back 4 months later when the tragedy of the Oklahoma bombing was to much bear without my family.

That love was there at 3 am when I knocked the cord of my word processor out of the wall and lost a 20-page college paper.

That love quietly left gifts on the desk of a struggling colleague so her children would have Christmas.

That love brought me clean laundry, medications, Orange Julius’s and quiet strength during the worst 9 months of my life and held my son on the best night of my life.

That love showed me how to live. To travel, to laugh, to enjoy life. To be a best friend to your spouse and the giver of unconditional to your child.

The greatest gift my mom gave me was letting me be my true self. Loud and friendly, silly and creative, bold and brazen, fiercely independent and incredible driven. Even when she didn’t understand it. Even when she didn’t agree. I was always allowed to be me.

The best way I, and everyone else in this room can honor her is to offer that same deep, abiding and unconditional love to those around you. To hold space for others without judgement.

I need to take a moment to thank Rick and Laurie Turner and my sister in law, Leslee Gonzalez who sat with my dad during the most unbearable hours of his life as my sister and our husbands battled rain and traffic for 4 hours to get to him. They also acted as our advocates when ridiculous emergency room timelines threatened to take my mother’s body from the room before we arrived. It is because of their efforts and persistence that my sister and I were able to kiss our mom goodbye. This is something for which we are eternally grateful.

To Dave Schneider Jr who, on a recent vacation, was able to truly capture my often camera shy mom in pictures we will cherish forever, thank you.

To her siblings Anne, Sara, Dave and her sister in law Janet- she loved you all so much. Thank you for sharing the pictures and memories of her childhood.

To my husband and his family, who lived through the same devastation 15 years ago when their father passed away suddenly- your example of continuing on and living life well in his honor gives me hope that better days are ahead. The thought of my mom meeting Bill can’t help but make me smile.

To all the girls of Agoura High who Amy and I spent our childhood with- your being here today means everything. My mom loved each of you. Some of us were together almost a year ago to the day to celebrate the life of Connie Bereny- I am quite confidant Connie and my mom have already met up and swapped stories about their beloved grandsons... and somewhat nutty daughters

To my son, Will, who gave us a reason to celebrate Christmas, who sat in my bed and helped me with the slideshow, who gave my mom such joy- thank you.

To her Princess Cruise family, especially Bruce, Anabelle, Eleanor and Chantal thank you for all of your support during this time. We know you adored her as we did.

To my dad’s USC family- the phone calls checking in on him have meant so much to us, thank you. We know your support will continue when he returns to work.

To everyone in this room who is here to celebrate my mom’s life, there are no words that can express the gratitude we feel- its overwhelming.

My life has been changed forever. Not by the day of her death. Instead, it has been changed by the 13,082 days that she was my mom.



Many of you here today have told me how much my mom loved me, and I thank you for that. But in all this craziness, that is the one thing I have never questioned, because she showed me everyday.

She showed me with fresh baked cookies, brownies or rice crispy treats waiting for me when I got home from school everyday.

She showed me every time my asthma would flair up and she would sit up with me all night reading to me, watching movies and just holding me and rocking me back and forth.

She showed me by coming to every soccer game…and believe me there were A LOT of soccer games.

She showed me with every Halloween costume she made me from scratch.

She showed me by making every Christmas morning absolutely magical.

She showed me by never buying herself new clothes or nice stuff so that Tiff and I could have new clothes and so that we could all take amazing family vacations together.

She showed me with the proud look she would get on her face when she was introducing me for the first time to her co-workers.

She showed me by loving and respecting my husband as if he was her own son.

She showed me by telling me how excited she was for me when I told her I was moving to Colorado, even though I know it broke her heart to see me move away.

She showed me by taking every one of my millions of phone calls. Whether it was to complain, vent, ask the most random question, or just chat about life, she always had time for me.

She showed me by always understanding and supporting me even if she didn’t always agree with me. She was definitely the one person who knew me…the real me…better than anyone else. I have truly lost my best friend.

She always made such a big deal of every ones birthdays, every one except her own. She would never let us throw her a big party. Partly because she didn’t want us to spend the money but I also think partly because she didn’t think anyone would come. So, I want to thank you all for being here today and for proving her wrong. Happy Birthday Mommy.


While all that my mom was could never be summed up on a few pieces of paper, we hope you have a glimpse into the incredible person she was.Below is a slideshow we put together for the service from pictures of her life.

mom memorial service from Tiffany R on Vimeo.


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