Eulogy for My Mother

If you don't like this eulogy you can blame my cousin Dean. Last week he told me he couldn't wait to hear how funny it would be.

The week before my mother went into the hospital I called to tell her a joke. It's a joke about a husband, a wife, a duck and a pig. The joke is rude and crude. It's sexist, misogynistic and demeaning to women in every way. My mother loved it. She cackled for a full minute. She called me back to have me repeat it so she could learn it well enough to tell it herself. 

And that was my mother. The epitome of beauty, grace and style–but inside–a dirty old man. In fact, inappropriate jokes for a mother to be telling a son– that was kind of her thing. And it was all I could do to keep her from also telling those jokes to her grandchildren.

This next bit requires you to know a little something about me. I live in the suburbs. In a two-story colonial. My office is less than ten steps from my bedroom. My weekly excursions are limited to trips to the grocery store or to play tennis at a local club. In other words, and according to my mother, I live on the edge. Now, before you dispute this, keep in mind I sometimes leave my garage door open, I sometimes drive near trucks on the highway, and I live in an area that sees its share of rainstorms.

I was quite pleased when I could report to my mother that my entire family was safe and sound at home.
"All the kids are there?" she'd ask. 
"Yes, all of them," I'd say. 
"Is your garage closed?" she'd ask. 
"Yes," I'd say proudly. 
"Did you make sure you turned off your car?"
I paused - Did I make sure I turned off my car? Does one have to make sure of that? 
"Yes?" I'd say. 
"You double checked?" she'd ask. 
Then there was silence. 
"No you didn't. Just go check again for me," she’d say, and I'd comply.

So–yes–some anxiety issues–they run in our family. But what better way to show me how much she cared. And she did love me and my family more deeply than anyone–ever–or ever could. She showered us with unconditional love, she was a boisterous cheerleader and the voice of reason–and none of that can be replaced.

Some of you may know we also lost our father last year, and losing both parents so close together is hard. But having my mother for the past year to help me through that loss, to share her old stories and look through old photographs–I see what a special gift that was. She was the real Robinson historian in our family, and she could remember details and recount stories more vividly than anyone. She was a real comfort, and I love and thank her for that.

Those who knew my mother, also knew she was a staunch democrat. She was well informed and remained an advocate for liberal principles all her life. But there was another cause to which she was equally devoted. I am, of course, talking about–The War on Crumbs. 

There was no speck too small to be crouched for, to be picked at, and captured. And for years she trained on the crumbliest things known to man: rice cakes, pretzels, sesame sticks and, of course, melba toast. My mother's pocketbook was a clown car of dry, stale, tasteless sustenance. And if you partook (which would only happen out of sheer and desperate hunger) you’d better be proficient at fashioning your hands into a makeshift broom and dustpan. 

Then, in 1983, she met her match. A man whose ability to make crumbs was so prolific, even she struggled to keep up. A man who insisted on walking as he chewed, not only leaving morsels to fall afoot but smashing them with his shoes and dragging them about the house. She ultimately married that man, and Howard, I hope this puts to rest any question of just how much my mother loved you.

But Howard was a godsend. He treated my mother like a queen and her children like his own. We grieve her loss together now and the loss of their beautiful marriage. 

Nevertheless, it could seem to a certain teenager that Howard was something of a homewrecker. And despite my parents having divorced years earlier, this new husband posed a tricky problem in the plan to reunite my biological parents. Well, it may have taken 38 years, but they are finally together again, and when I think of them now, I can hear the motions being filed, and the depositions extracted, in the reopening of their 1979 case for my custody. 

And this time I hope my mom wins.


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