Oct 12, 2018
To quote Judy Collins:
“Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air,
Where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns”
On behalf of my Dad and the woman who gave my siblings and I life, who in turn gave life to her grandchildren…We want to thank you with all of our hearts for being here today.
I’m Stephen John, Loretta’s first child and like you, I will always miss her.
But then there’s this weird thing, and I know my Mom was keenly aware of this: “the phenomenon of living on in your progeny”
Her influence, taste, opinion, knowledge, philosophy, story and voice…will continue to live on within us.
My Mom, or “Ra Ra” as her grandchildren call her, was always good at remembering special days with a card. Every year on Ellen’s birthday (December 25th) she’d write “you’re still my best Christmas present ever!” on her birthday card…and so on Christmas Day, 2009 when Ellen broke the news that she was pregnant with the twins giving my Mom a framed print of the ultrasound: Mom squealed loudly with joy and said “Ellen, If you EVER need ANY help with the kids, I mean ANYTHING just let me know…I’ll send Dad over.”
I used to joke with her that she was the curator of “Cliche Hell”…because she would always have just the right hackneyed phrase of wit to underscore the situation.
If something went wrong she’d say: “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”
If you were feeling pressure or tension she’d say: “Stressed spelled backwards is dessert”
If you listen very carefully you can still hear her now: “Stephen”, she’ll say:
SUSAN: “Those of you who think you know so much are very annoying to those of us who do”.
See what I mean? She had a knack for comic delivery.
My Mom, Loretta: is obviously still with us: she has influenced and metaphorically touched us in ways that we can’t understand at the momement.
You may have heard some of us use the phrase “Tri-si-so”. It’s a term of endearment of which I am the author ,but there’s an element of body language associated with it you may not know about. When I was a child, before developing this amazing skill of speech, my Mom would ask: “Stephen, how much do you love me?” to which I’d respond, arms open wide “Tri-Si-So”. It means “This much: With all my heart”.
You want to experience my Mom’s presence? That’s easy: just spend some time with her children.
Ellen will demonstrate her strength,
Susan will demonstrate her love of friends and family,
Mark will demonstrate his kindness to creatures great and small.
Her grandchildren will demonstrate her love of adventure, stories and giving.
And I, I can tell you of her compassion, it wasn’t just “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” kind of compassion…she was more of a “be kind to others” kinda person. She always voted for the party of “do no harm”: JFK, RFK, Carter, Clinton, and Obama: you’re welcome…she even voted with compassion.
Whenever we had a problem... Moms solution was always to follow the path of kindness.
My Mom, Loretta, was a big beliver in authenticty: she taught her children and grandchildren to embrace the experiences of life, to cherish the arts of theatre, music, food, and the epic shouts and laughter of an Italian Family Dinner.
She traveled the world and encouraged us to do the same…not just to see the world, but to taste, hear, smell and feel it. She wanted us to experience the world fully and authentically.
Mom and Dad didn’t just visit Italy, They emersed themselves in it, savoring the land of her ancestors.
Last Thursday I asked my Dad go to Fenway with me for game one of the ALCS. He didn’t want to leave Mom alone, of course. She died holding his hand. “Don’t leave me” she said, her last words in life. As you’d expect: He didn’t.
When my siblings, neices and nephews were children, my Mom would read to us and encouraged us to do so as well. Mom is why her children and grandchildren have always loved to read…except maybe for Johnny, because: well…he’s Johnny.
“The Giving Tree”, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, “Oh, the Places You'll Go!”, “Strega Nona” and of course Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince” were some of her favorites.
In a special scene near the end of the book, it’s been a year since The Little Prince had left his planet, and he was going home. Saint-Exupery writes:
“…And at night you will look up at the stars.
Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found.
It is better, like that.
My star will be just one of the stars for you.
And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens…they will all be your friends. And besides I am going to make you a present…
He laughed again.
“Ah, little Prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!”.
“That is my present. Just that…It will be as it was when we drank the water…”
“What are you trying to say?”
“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people.
For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides.
For others, they are no more than little lights in the sky.
For others, who are scholars, they are problems.
For my businessmen they were wealth.
But all these stars are silent.
You - you alone - will have the stars as no one else has them -“
“What are you trying to say?”
In one of those stars I shall be living.
In one of them I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night.
You - only you - will have stars that can laugh”.
I think that’s what my Mom was trying to tell us all these years:
Dance as though no one is watching
Love as though you’ve never been hurt before
Sing as though no one can hear you
and be kind.
I love you Mom, Tree-si-so with all my heart.