Monday, June 1, 2009

Cancer changes lives in so many ways

I hope everyone is doing well. This is a different sort of blog. My friend Teri's mom passed away recently and I wanted to share with everyone the Eulogy Teri gave. You must be thinking this is an odd thing to blog about, but it really is not. Cancer has such a profound impact on people's lives and the way we all respond is totally different. Although I never met Teri's mom, Andrea, I can tell she was just an amazing person with a huge heart. I was really touched by Teri's words and truly felt compelled to share. The strength of Teri, Andrea, and her family is just amazing.

Mom's Eulogy.....August 10, 1930-May 24, 2009

I’m Teri Ramirez, Andrea’s daughter, on behalf of the Ramirez family, we would like to thank each and every one of you for coming tonight. Mom’s biggest hope was that she would have a lot of people join her family to celebrate her life. Mom was an incredible woman. She was married to her childhood sweetheart and in July, they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. She always put her family first and did whatever she had to do to make sure we were well taken care of. She put others needs before her own and taught all of us the true meaning of unconditional love. Mom had a zest for life and it was the little things in life that made her happy, a call or visit from one of her kids, a trip to JoAnn’s Fabrics or Wolff’s nursery, her novelas and of course, a trip to Vegas...especially if she found a hot machine! We could never understand how she could stay up all night long in Vegas, but could barely stay up past 9pm here at home. Mom also taught us many life lessons that we will treasure forever. My siblings and I consider ourselves very blessed that we were chosen to be in her life. She was very giving, instilled strength in us, a class act and a very calming force in our lives.

Mom was very outgoing and treated everyone as if they were a close friend...even complete strangers. No one was a stranger to mom, one time a couple walked into Popo’s the restaurant mom and dad owned and mom left her cooking and walked over to their table. Mom sat down and talked with them for a while. We later found out they had just moved into the neighborhood and this was the first time mom had met them. This was the way mom treated everyone...again, our mom knew no stranger.

Mom also treated everyone as if they were her own son or daughter. Mom was a huge Spurs fan and a huge fan of Tony Parker. A few years ago, during the playoffs, we saw Tony Parker while we were eating dinner at a restaurant. Mom walked over to his table and said “I watch every game on TV. Good luck in the playoffs mijo.” What she didn’t tell him is that she was deeply hurt when the Spurs were considering trading Tony Parker, as if this was happening to her own son.

My brother, Roy’s college roommate, Hector Luna, was from El Paso and the first weekend Roy came home, mom being mom asked him if he was bringing home his dirty laundry. Of course he said “yes” and she quickly added “You’re bringing Hector’s laundry too, right?” She proceeded to do his laundry for the rest of their college days. Hector went on and taught at San Antonio College. On Saturdays after class, he would make it a point to go see mom at Popo’s.

Mom didn’t worry about the little things, she didn’t sweat the small stuff. Whenever someone would be having a bad day or going through a difficult time, mom would remind them that things could be worse. She would always say “That’s a little problem.” In fact, when we were talking about chemo and losing her hair, I asked her how she felt about the hair loss. She said, “Look at Bruce Bowen he’s bald and he looks good. Losing my hair? That’s a little problem...” Mom taught us to put things into perspective, to stay positive and to always remember things aren’t as bad as they seem. There is always someone out there who has it worse than you do so you have to appreciate what you have.

Mom taught us what it was to be a friend, she taught us to always be there for others when they needed you and even more when they thought they didn’t need you. She was so caring, had so much love to give and a huge heart. After a coworker of mine, Kim Parker, was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, mom became pen pals with her, even though they had never met and at this time, I had only met Kim once before. She found out about Kim and wanted to be there for her. They continued to be there for each other sending cards and thoughtful letters. She was always there for you and never wanted anyone feel as if they were alone.

Mom taught us how to live our lives with dignity, honor and respect. Last weekend, she taught us how to die with dignity, honor and respect. About 5 days before she passed away, we found out her cancer was spreading quite aggressively. A few days later, she was admitted into the hospital. With her family surrounding her, her doctor, Dr. Sharon Wilks, came into the hospital room and gave us news NO ONE was expecting, mom only had days to live. The news was devastating for us, but mom laid in bed with a face void of emotion. In typical mom fashion, she was being strong for us, not even shedding a tear. We had to leave the room because we were devastated and shocked at this news, we left Julie, her grandaughter, in the room with mom. Mom told Julie “It’s a been a good ride Julie.” When my brother, Roy, asked to see Dr. Wilks outside of mom’s room we went to the waiting room so we could ask more specific details. Dr. Wilks began to tell us what we could expect. The words were brutal and upsetting. She then proceeded to tell us that our mom was such a classy lady that always acted with dignity and grace. She told us what an amazing woman she was and that whenever she would ask her how she was feeling, knowing full well that most peoples threshold to pain would have been a 10 mom would just say “I’m fine.” Dr. Wilks then gave us all a hug and it is my belief that mom had touched this woman in such a way that she wanted to give back to us what mom had given to her...dignity, grace and class.

Please don’t feel sorry for the Ramirez family today or consider this our loss. Feel sorry for those who never had the opportunity to meet our mom. For they are truly the ones who have lost. We believe we are better people because of our mom and we will continue that legacy for many generations to come. There is no need to feel sorry for us today as we celebrate our mom’s life. Our final day with mom was incredible. She was talking to us between naps and had everyone laughing all day. Mom was able to do something not everyone has an opportunity to do. She was able to decide exactly how she wanted this day, a celebration of her life, to be. She chose what she wanted to wear, she handpicked all 9 pall bearers, she chose her favorite flowers...violet orchids and white roses, she wanted her treasured quilt that was made with love for her by her nephew, Eddie’s wife, Dora Garcia draped over her casket, she chose the songs, even insisted she wear Red Door perfume because that’s what dad always bought her, but most importantly mom insisted on having an open casket so everyone could see how beautiful she was. Mom had a way of making people laugh without even trying. Like when she told my sister, Liz, that I was always “text mexing” or when she said, “I didn’t know Tom Cruise was Mexican!” We always got a laugh when we’d ask mom what she wanted us to bring her for dinner and she’d say “John Long Silvers.” We also thought it was funny that mom would always hum the song...(hum the song)...not realizing the words to that Rod Stewart song is “if you want my body and you think I”m sexy...” or maybe she did know those were the words. Right now, I want to ask you to take a few minutes to remember a time you had with mom when you were both laughing...(pause)...remem
ber how you felt at that time...(pause)...remember how happy she was...(pause)...THAT’S the memory we want you to have of our mom.

The few hours we were in hospice, they provided a chaplin to pray with mom and our family. When asked what she wanted to pray for, mom said “health and peace.” Right away, we knew she wanted health and peace for her loved ones. Once again, putting others before herself. It was amazing that this woman only had hours left with us and she was still more concerned with others than herself. We want to focus on mom’s last wishes, especially her wish for peace. Mom taught all of us not to take anything for granted, to live everyday as if it was your last, to let those you love know how much they mean to you and to remind them daily. She also taught us how to forgive and that there is nothing stronger or more important than the love and support you receive from your family. She taught us that there is never a reason to shut out a loved one. As we celebrate mom’s life today, please take the time to appreciate the loved ones in your life and make it a point to tell them that you love them every chance you get. Mom has shown us that you really never know how much time you have together. Most of all, please honor mom’s wish for peace. When you’re at odds or estranged with a loved one, think about why you are mad at each other and remember that mom is looking down on you and reminding you “that’s a little problem.”

Whenever we left the house, our mom always had a saying for us that we still say to this day and we say to our children as well. Mom, now it’s our turn to give you the same you enter the pearly gates of Heaven and you see the good Lord, “porte de bien.”

We have one more item on the agenda, but before that I’d like to tell you a little story.....all of us kids were talking the other day and we thought this was a universal fact that when you see a red bird, you make a wish, this was what mom always told us. We have come to find out that not everybody does that, but we all do because of mom. What we’d like to ask you to do is whenever you see a red bird, make a wish and think about mom.

I’d like to acknowledge our mom’s grandchildren who have spent many hours contributing to our celebration of her life. Andy Ramirez put together all the beautiful music you are listening to today. Unfortunately, Phillip Andry is not able to be here today, but him and his sister, Analisa Andry chose the prayer and Analisa was brave enough to stand up at the podium. Julie Ramirez and Jason Medrano spent many hours making a slideshow. Jason Medrano, Matthew and Blake Hansen are handing out pink carnations to all the ladies in honor of their grandmother.

Please continue to join us in this celebration of our mom’s life by viewing the slideshow they made with our fondest memories of our mom.

Bookmark and Share

1 comment:

  1. wow, joe..thank you for sharing. What a well written and clearly heartfelt eulogy. Teri, you are amazing