In Memory of Mom 1933-2013

On October 26, my mother passed away. She was 80 years old, but had been relatively healthy and independent. Her sudden death left my family in shock.

My father had passed away nearly 23 years ago from cancer. Not a day had gone by that my mother didn’t feel a deep sense of loss. My parents’ wedding anniversary was particularly hard. My mother would say, “I can’t go through one more anniversary without your father.” Mind you, she said that every year since his death. So when my brother told me Mom passed away, after the initial shock, I said, “Do you know what day it is? It’s Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary.”

I can’t imagine a more poetic way to die. For the first time in over two decades, my mother joined my father to celebrate their special day.

My mother could be somewhat demonstrative, and she wasn’t done yet. During her graveside funeral, a butterfly alighted on her coffin. The crisp autumn weather was typical for Philadelphia this time of year. What wasn’t typical, even non-existent, are butterflies in Philly the end of October. We’re convinced it was a sign from my mother letting us know she’s free, transformed and beautiful.

I won’t wish my mother to “rest in peace” only because she always preferred activity. She said more than once, “Rest is for the dead.” Eternal downtime would not be her idea of a good Heaven. No, I imagine her kicking up mischief and having a ball. I just hope she stays out of trouble.

There’s more I could say and perhaps I will another time. For now, it’s difficult to write so I’ll end with a poem my mother found meaningful and adapted to her own circumstances. We found it copied in her notebook. The words undoubtedly affirmed her after hearing too many well-meaning but clueless comments about her continued grieving for my dad:

Please don’t ask me if I’m over it yet. I’ll never be over it. Please, don’t tell me he’s in a better place. He isn’t here with me. Please don’t say at least he isn’t suffering. I haven’t come to terms with why he had to suffer at all.

Please don’t tell me you know how I feel unless you have lost a husband. Please don’t ask me if I feel better. Bereavement isn’t a condition that clears up. Please don’t tell me at least you had him for 38 years. What year would you choose for your husband to die?

Please don’t tell me God never gives us more than we can bear. Please just say you are sorry. Please just say you remember my husband, if you do. Please just let me talk about my Sol. Please just let me cry.

* The original poem was most likely penned by Rita Moran. Having been re-copied many times, the identity of the real author is not entirely clear.



  1. Lovely piece, Eileen. My condolences.

  2. Hi Eileen,
    I am so sorry to hear your sad news.

    Yes, the fact that your dear mother died on her wedding anniversary is as you said, a poetic way to die. And then the butterfly appearing – gosh what a symbolic and meaningful sign. And the poem you shared is just so beautiful…

    I hope you have many wonderful memories of your mother to carry with you as treasures for your heart. Thanks so much for this lovely tribute to her. Again, I’m sorry.

  3. dear Eileen,

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear Mother. all that came with the loss of your Dad for her and for you (we lose so much of the parent left behind, don’t we), culminating in her sudden death must be such an ache in your heart. this post was a beautiful tribute to her, and I am glad for every bit of the lovely sign of the butterfly and that she got to finally celebrate her and your Dad’s wedding anniversary again –
    much love and light, xoxoxoxo


  4. Mark, Nancy and Karen, thanks for the kind words. Appreciate you all!

    Karen, you’re so right that when one parent dies, we lose something in the one who’s left. I know you understand that particularly well, not only from the viewpoint of the adult child, but as the surviving parent. Hugs, and more hugs. xoxo

  5. Your beautiful tribute brought tears to my eyes. I would like to think that your dear Mom and Dad will dance the night away.

    Stay sweet my friend.

  6. Eileen, as the others have already stated, what a wonderful tribute. {{{Hugs}}} ~D

  7. Ellen, I think they will dance the night away because my father was a terrific dancer. My mother has said she wasn’t such a good dancer, but he made her look good. Thanks for the comforting image — my parents dancing like they did when they alive, young and healthy.

    Diane, thanks so much. You, and your hugs, are always appreciated.

  8. Dear Eileen, I am so sorry for your loss. I can really identify with what you are feeling and hold you in my thoughts and heart right now xxx

  9. Thanks, Marie. xoxo

  10. I am sad to read this, sad for the sudden loss of your dear mom, and yet also amazed at your mother’s timing. That is rather beautiful in itself. I also love Karen’s analogy that we lose something in the parent who is left. Very true. {{{hugs}}} to you during this difficult time. xo

  11. Thanks so much, Renn. Yes, my mother’s timing was absolutely beautiful. Like a love sonnet.

  12. I shall borrow a term I heard from a friend once. Your Mother’s timing was “exquisetly tender.”. Love you

  13. I love the idea of your mom kicking up mischief and having a ball. What a wonderful way to be remembered. My heart goes out to you; I know all too well what you’re going through.

  14. Nancy, I remember reading your blog about losing your mother. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone.

    There’s a deep bond that a child has with a parent. When my mother died, I lost my biggest cheerleader. Although well into adulthood, I feel like a little girl who lost her mommy.

  15. My sincere, although belated, condolences, Eileen. I’m so sorry your mother passed so suddenly. I know what a shock that can be, only compounding the grief. But the butterfly at her funeral and that fact she left on her wedding anniversary are beautiful things to keep in mind. And her poem makes perfect sense. Hugs to you—-Melissa

  16. Thanks, Melissa. I know you’ve been there, too. xo

  17. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking piece. I’m so sorry. xoxoxo A

  18. Oh Eileen, I am so saddened by your loss. The poem speaks volumes.

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