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Lewy Body Journal: Our Family's Experience with Lewy Body Disease
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24. In Memoriam (May 2006)

Mother's funeral was in the first week of May 2006. Daughter's eulogy follows.

"Mother's life was devoted to her family and to her community ... Mother's life touched so many people"
My mother was a remarkable woman. It's impossible to summarize my mother's 79 years in just a few minutes. Her life was devoted to her family and to her community. As a child, I remember going with Mother to League of Women Voters meetings, attending candidates nights organized by her, helping out at book sales for the Friends of the Library, and weeding the plants by the railroad tracks with the town beautification committee — just a few of the organizations that my mother belonged to.

My mother's life touched so many people. For many years, Mother taught children with learning disabilities. She didn't just educate the kids; she befriended them, gave them confidence, and advised them. At night, Mother taught business education classes at the adult school. She was instrumental in helping many women acquire the skills they needed to return to the workforce. And when Mother finally retired, rather than stay home, she got what she referred to as her retirement job, working at the public library. She loved being active and interacting with people.

Mother's life was devoted to public service. She literally made a difference in our world. For many years, she chaired the town planning board and safeguarded our town from overdevelopment. She was the president of the town League of Women Voters and later the county chapter. She helped end racial steering in housing in our county, made sure that our town didn't sell off its parks, sponsored numerous local candidates nights, did voter registration, and worked at the polls on election day. Mother also volunteered with many other organizations and was the treasurer of the Friends of the Library and the museum society. She organized fundraising trips, helped out at book sales and tag sales, and performed numerous tasks for these organizations.

Mother was interested in local history and was part of the committee that advised an historian on his book about our town. In fact, Chapter 7 of the book begins by describing my parents' decision to move to our town in 1956 from the cramped one-bedroom apartment they had been living in with three kids in New York City.

Mother had an immense love of learning. She was always reading and was a regular attendee at the library's Friday books and lunch. When she was in her mid-40's and had four children, Mother went back to school and earned her second master's degree in education. Mother earned degrees from Hunter College, NYU, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Mother had a strength about her. If you were nervous, Mother always had the right words to calm you. She was willing to take a stand on issues. A number of years ago, a local clergyman suggested providing sanctuary to Central American refugees, and Mother was ready to do it even though it might result in her going to jail. She was a feminist who believed strongly in women's equality and rights, and she imparted that belief to her daughters.

Mother was vibrant and active. She took us hiking. She loved crafts; she knit us afghans and sweaters, made lace, did needlepoint, and took classes on tai chi, automotive repair, furniture caning, even golf (at least until she became pregnant with her first child). With my father, she attended Elderhostel classes in Hungary, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

She loved the arts. From when I was about 6 years old, every year we went to see a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. She took me to see my first Shakespeare play. We went on trips to museums and historic homes. And Mother and Dad were always going to the movies.

Most of all, Mother was fun to be with. Because Mother was a teacher, she always had the summer off. Every summer, we would read a book together. My love for Sherlock Holmes comes from the summer we read The Hound of the Baskervilles. Each week, we would go to the Palace Theater for the Disney double feature, we would try new restaurants, and jump barefoot in the puddles after a summer shower. My favorite part of the summer was sitting with my parents in the backyard, looking up at the trees, watching the squirrels, listening to the birds, and Mother trying to whistle like a cardinal.

"Mother loved her children and grandchildren ... Family was central to my mother's life"
Mother loved her children and grandchildren. She always encouraged us and was interested in what we were doing. She taught us to climb the apple tree in our front yard. She kept her children's diplomas on the wall of the den. She read all of her son's papers that appeared in psychology journals and was probably the only one in the family (other than her son) who understood them. She was a regular correspondent and while at camp or in college, we would frequently receive her typewritten letters telling us of her activities, including a forsythia clipping from the shrub next to the house or containing one of our favorite recipes. As adults, on our birthdays, our parents would telephone us and sing "Happy Birthday." I loved sitting with Mother in the kitchen as she prepared dinner talking about everything and anything, telling me about her day at work, the book she was reading, and the family stories.

Family was central to my mother's life. She grew up not only with her parents and brother, but also with a large extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She never hesitated to help a relative and remained close to them throughout their lives.

My parents were married in 1951. I never heard them argue. I often heard them laugh. They took care of each other and loved each other. And for the last several years, as my mother succumbed to Lewy body disease, my father took care of my mother. Even as the disease took its toll, you could still see the love that existed between them.

The memories of my mother's joy in life and her love for us will always be with us. We were each so fortunate to have known this wonderful woman and have her in our lives for so long. She was one of the best people whom I will ever know. On behalf of my family, thank you for coming today and celebrating with us our mother's life.

23.Final Days (May 2006)
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