Words of remembrance

July 1, 2000

A few people have asked me about my remarks for my mother that I had the privilege to speak at her mass yesterday. Here they are, with one tiny edit. All but one of you won’t even notice…

Thank you for coming to show your love and to honor Eileen Helen Crilly West, the greatest woman I have had the privilege to know. I would like to tell you all what a miraculous woman my mother was from my perspective. In the last few days I have heard a lot of stories about my mom. Stories of grand gestures and life changing assistance. I have those, too. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I’d like to share something small with you, one of the simple everyday things that made my mother such a wondrous human.

Recently I came across a box of letters I held on to for around 30 years. Most were from Mom and didn’t say much other than “I love you- Mom.” Among those notes were some letters she wrote to me along my life’s travels. One old letter really stands out as perfectly Mom.

She wrote to me when I was in high school, living in the same house as her. It must have been one of the dozen times I broke up with my boyfriend and I was probably despondent and mopey and downright miserable. I imagine she tried to talk to me and that I wouldn’t listen. I remember myself from those days and I feel nothing but guilt at what my mother had to endure from me. But she wrote me a short letter. The wording was something like this: I know there isn’t much I can do for you right now. I know there isn’t much that you need. But you might need a friend, and I am always yours.

This was Mom.

When my wedding shower organizer asked people to write recipe cards for me, Mom wrote a few but the best one, the one I used all the time, the one I will never use again, was a recipe for, as she wrote, “anything you need.” It simply contained her phone number.

My mother was generous with all she had, even with what she needed for herself. My mother forgave those close to her for misdeeds and lapses in judgement or character. My mother worked to understand God and all He wanted from her. She had a great love in her life and 5 children who, as different as we are, all utterly adore her. She had seven grandchildren and lived to see two great-granddaughters. I know how happy that made her. She was smart in a way I will never be, funnier than everyone, and the competitive in the best possible way.

Eileen West will be missed by all who knew her.

I love her. She is my hero. She was my friend.

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