Thursday, May 14, 2015

She Was Good at Apologies

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

In 2008, I attended the funeral of my husband’s grandmother, Helen. I had met her only a few times, but the hubby’s childhood was full of stories of summers at her house in California. There he spent hours in the ocean (he’s still a beach lover), ate Red Vines, and played games in which she cheated (so that he would win).

I remember after the hubby and I were married, as we opened our wedding gifts, we kept finding more and more boxes from Helen and Jesse, her husband; they were wonderfully generous. Of course, I also know her son fairly well, and I must say he makes an excellent father-in-law. So I knew that Helen was a lovely woman.

Sitting through her memorial service, however, was a bit daunting. Her children’s tributes involved statements like, “She was always singing,” “She was never angry,” “She always made us feel important and loved,” always always good, never never bad. She sounded like an absolute angel, and I was half surprised this was her funeral instead of her translation party (translation = being taken up to meet God without dying because you’re just that awesome).

Contrast that with my own mother’s memorial service about three and half years before. When I spoke, I said approximately, “Mom left me four gigantic bins of yarn. It’s going to take me to the end of time to finish those projects. I love that she taught me to crochet, and pretty much to try out all sorts of crafts. I love that she encouraged me to create beauty. Even though she wasn’t very good at other things in our relationship.”* And that seemed to be the theme of the way my siblings and I talked about her—complicated relationships, some rather rough patches, mingled with the good stuff.

I could not help comparing Helen’s memorial, my mother’s memorial, and my own future one. At the time of Helen’s funeral, the hubby and I had been married about three years** and we had a year-old child. And it was already quite clear that I was definitely not going to be particularly good at the following:

1. Keeping my temper
2. Keeping the house clean and/or regularly cooking delicious meals
3. Most of the traditionally motherly type stuff
4. Playing with my children for more than five minutes in a row.
5. Did I mention the temper thing?

Many years have passed since then, and two more children have been added to the mix. And when I think about the far-flung future, I am even more certain that my children will not be able to pay me the glowing tribute that Helen received.

And I’m coming to grips with that.

Here’s what I hope they will be able to say about me: She was good at apologies. She asked forgiveness when she made a mistake, and she kept trying to do better. Sometimes she lost her temper and snapped at us, but she came back afterward and gave us hugs and said she was sorry. She genuinely tried to make amends. We learned about repairing relationships and repenting from her.

And if they can say that, I hope it will be enough.***
After I wrote this post, the 7yo gave me
this card for Mother's Day. Happy
smiling commenced (even if the "always"
and "never" were just conveniently used for
their first letters).

* I’m totally not kidding about the yarn, by the way. So. Much. Yarn. But it’s my fault, because before she died I told her I’d take and finish her projects. I’m sure she’s up there somewhere in heaven crocheting bookmarks out of clouds for all the angels. And also laughing that I still have three bins of yarn, ten years later.
** Yes, if you’re doing the math, Mom died four months before I got married.
*** Although it would also be nice if they could say that I vacuumed more than once a month too.


  1. A new favorite MMW post from you. Made me cry!

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed (and glad you cried?). :)

  2. This is very sweet. And I think, at funerals, we always hear the best about the person. I'm sure it will be that way for you too. ;-)

    1. Yeah, we definitely hear the best. I just think they'll really have to dig for that. :)



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