I will make you proud: A Eulogy For My Mom
I’d like to start with what I am most grateful for. I’m very grateful for my family. I am very grateful for the many loving friends I have met over my years here on Earth, and of whom the past few weeks have prayed and supported me as I struggled with my Mom’s sudden and unexpected health decline and subsequent hospital stay. My family and my friends were all there with my Dad and I, in the hope and belief that even though she was 92, she would pull through and be home soon, and still had some years left! The reality was, she was in worse condition than we knew. At one point she looked as though she was starting to transition to a release to go home. I am also extremely grateful that my family, friends, and some folks I didn’t even know, were there for us with their tremendous love and support on Facebook, this was not only humbling but inspiring. Thank you all for taking the time to do that. It means a lot to both myself and my Dad.
Admittedly, this is a very emotional and challenging time for me. I’ve struggled to understand and accept this situation. Losing your mom is a deeply painful experience. It comes with a hurricane of emotions, processing, and reflection. What could I have done, I should have done this, or I wish I had only said or done that, but alas, I know now that in the end God came and took her because of her because it was time.
My mind wants to reject it all. But this is the reality. My mom is no longer with us in this world.
I don’t know how you can summarize or speak to your entire life. There are so many intricacies. People are dynamic and their relationship with the world is infinitely complex. My Mom was a unique person who was more than any of us can fully comprehend or speak to.
So today I’m going to share my relationship with my Mom. I hope you come away with a greater appreciation for what an incredible and inspiring woman she sincerely was.
Belief, Compassion, And Authenticity
When I reflect on my childhood, my mom’s presence was the only consistency. I don’t have any siblings. My biological father wasn’t around. And the world that my mom and I took on, was constantly changing and frankly, never very easy.
We endured many challenges together, but somehow it all worked. It worked because we were not alone. We had each other, and when I was five years old, my Mom met and later married my Dad, Frank Charles Smith. Our togetherness, the three of us, enabled us to navigate the constant change and to conquer the challenges. It gave us an invulnerable strength. That strength endures. It’s with me today.
In our time together, my Mom taught me some of life’s most important lessons. And she did so in a unique, but powerful way. Rarely, if ever, did she preach a specific message or compel me to act in a certain manner.
Rather, my mom inspired and influenced me through her actions. With her words, she was humble and caring, in her actions she was bold and powerful.
I’ll speak about three lessons my mom taught me that stick with me today.
The first lesson my mom taught me was the power of belief. During my entire life, she reiterated one thing: her absolute and unshakable belief in me. The ability that anything you can think of, you can accomplish, but you had to have the belief that you could.
No matter the endeavor – attend an elite university, work on Wall Street, travel the world – she believed in me. She never questioned the things that I wanted or choose to do. She trusted and believed I would make the right decision and accomplish anything I set my mind to. If I was down and out, she would always remind me that “Tomorrow is a new day”.
By believing in me with full confidence and trust, she cultivated the belief within me that I could do anything. That belief is powerful. Belief is everything.
Writer James Allen tells us that “The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.” (As Man Thinketh) In other words, our ability and desire to do things are born in our knowledge that we can do things.
Many of us struggle in this domain. We question our abilities. We think we aren’t as intelligent or as skilled as others. We say we aren’t ready or capable.
These narratives we tell ourselves are dangerous. They are myths rooted in a lack of belief. And without belief, we don’t take action. We don’t take the necessary leaps to create truly fulfilling and inspiring lives. We never master the art of fulfillment.
Fortunately, I had my Mom, and of course my incredible Dad as well. I had her absolute belief. I had her full trust and support. When I failed, she would pick me up, brushed me off, and said try a little harder. “Anything difficult takes a little time”, she would say, “And anything impossible will take a little longer”.
When anyone dared to question my abilities, my Mom would happily correct them. When I achieved anything, whether it was big or small, she would tell the whole world. She was immensely proud. She was a true believer and protector, a Pitbull Mom, a Mother Bear, and her Cub.
With all of these actions, she created the belief that drives me today. I think this is the best thing you can do for anyone. Believe in them. Let them surprise you with how far that belief can go. I passed that same ideology on to my children, Mom’s beloved Grandchildren, who survive her and were always the apple of her eye; Dylan Michael Kerr, Alexis Marie Kerr, and Christiaan Alexander Kerr.
The second lesson my Mom taught me, was the power of compassion. She is the most compassionate person I have ever known.
According to writer Eckhart Tolle, compassion is “The awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures.” (The Power of Now)
My mom embodied this understanding of compassion. In our family, she was the most thoughtful, kind, and loving soul. Thankfully, yet another attribute I learned from Mom too, and maybe as she said, sometimes to a fault.
She listened without judgment. She gave without expectation. She helped out because it was the right thing to do. She was honest because there was no other way to be.
Growing up, we never had much money. But my mom never complained about this. She would literally give you her last dollar. And for me, many times she did. She would sacrifice eating lunch or buying clothes and things for herself, just to buy me things because I was as she said, the love of her life, her “Little Piece of Americana.
Even if she wasn’t feeling well, my Mom would write me a kind note or buy me a bar of chocolate just to say she loved me.
In her career working as a first-class waitress with Moore McCormick shipping lines, she sailed the Seven Seas. She traveled to all the exotic places she only dreamt of seeing one day as a passionate little girl who lost her mother when she was only 15. She was a leader among her peers and was always the go-to gal on the ships that her associates clamored up to seek her advice and guidance. She outlived practically all but one of those friends who she remained in contact with up until her being rushed to the hospital on May 2nd, 2021.
She always thought I was the star of the show, but without knowing it, she was the star, wherever she went. She was the one who brought joy, compassion, and love to the lives of so many people that she met over the years, and Mom stayed in touch with them all. She brightened everyone’s life because of her compassion. She demonstrated that she cared. She listened. She held them if they were upset. She advocated for them, she advocated for everyone! The Dalai Lama tells us “If you want others to be happy practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” My mom did just that. I hope we can all do the same.
The third lesson my mom taught me was the power of authenticity. She was a free, authentic, and genuine spirit. The poet May Sarton said that “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” My Mom lived this way. She didn’t stand behind the restrictive social walls we all like to build. If she wanted to say or do something, she did. Instead of judging people, she sought to understand them.
Fortunately, my mom taught me how to live authentically too, and be comfortable with that. She lived by her own code. Because of her, I now embrace difference. I choose courage over comfort. I live by my own rules.
As I wrap up, I’d like to share a few thoughts on death and how we can all move forward. After all, death is the reason I am writing this Eulogy. Our friend and my mom, Christina Mary Maypother-Smith, have passed. This is a reality that we all need to understand and process, myself especially.
It’s circumstances like these that often allow us to step back from the day-to-day noise and reflect. I reflect daily on my mom’s passing. When I wake up, it’s the first thing on my mind. During the day, there are infinite reminders. When I go to sleep, it’s the last thing I think of. But I’m confident I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one processing. And I’d like to share some wisdom that has given me strength and courage during my own journey with Mom’s life and her recent untimely passing.
In his commencement speech to Stanford graduates in 2005, the Founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, spoke about his relationship with death: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” For Steve Jobs, recognizing his own mortality every day was a tool to focus on what really mattered in life. He confronted death 6 years later, and sadly, he passed away after leaving his footprint all over the World.
The Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome shared this pragmatic view on death. They encouraged us to keep our own mortality in mind at all times. In doing so, we could better appreciate life for what it is and find peace with the many adversities we all face. Most of us prefer to ignore that one day we will no longer be here. It can be scary. No one wants to die. But our time here is limited. One day we will no longer be here.
Like the Stoic philosophers and Steve Jobs, I have found strength and courage in accepting my own mortality. If you are struggling, I encourage you to consider doing the same. By openly embracing our own mortality, we can focus on what really matters. We can glide past the petty frustrations of daily life, live the story that brings us immense joy and fulfillment, and spend our finite time with the people we love the most. I know my mom would support this approach. She never liked to see me down. So, instead, I am choosing to fully embrace life while I still have the opportunity to do so. I am choosing to celebrate her life and find inspiration in her teachings. I am choosing to practice compassion, believe, and live authentically. Of course, I’m going to miss her. How could I not? It’s my Mom. But I know she will always be with me. Her belief, compassion, and authenticity will always be by my side and in my heart. It is for that reason I am deeply grateful and indebted to my Mom. Thanks, mom.
The last thing my mom said to me was, “I love you with all my heart and soul.” I love you too mom. I will make you proud.
With Love to you all,
Digby R. Kerr