The following eulogy was given on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at our mother’s funeral by Suzanne Aardema, one of my younger sisters.
Suzanne said so much good stuff about our mother’s life and the example she left for us, I asked her if I could share it with you. I told Suzanne her words deserve a much wider audience than just those of us present that morning. I am reprinting it (other than the emphasis, which was how she said it) exactly as she wrote it. Thank you, Suzanne, for allowing me to post it.
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Hi. Thank you for coming.
We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my mom, she was rich.
Mom worked a bunch of lousy, low paying jobs in order to help make ends meet in a family with five kids, and yet mom, she was rich.
You see, my mom, she understood the secret to being rich. My mom understood that being rich is not about what you have or what you can get. Mom understood that the secret to being rich is in what you can give.
From the time that I was a young child I can remember my mom exemplifying that giving spirit in how she lived.
The door was always open. Everyone was welcome, and there was always enough for another plate at the table.
My mom and dad opened their home to so many people over the years. People who were down and out. People who needed a place to stay temporarily or for a longer time. There were the foster children, and my brother’s friend Allen from high school who had been booted out by his parents.
There was Mary, a young lost woman who mom took under her wing. Mary became a part of the family lived with us for several years until she could get back on her feet.
My friend Ray from college lived at the house for a while, and even my husband stayed there long before he was my husband or even my boyfriend.
The Makokha family came and stayed for the better part of a year, and they became a part of our extended family. Then there was Diego who lived there for like, forever and then Bruce. I’m sure that I’m missing a few names.
The door was always open and everyone was welcome. Even when times were tough, there was always enough for another plate at the table. Because my mom, she understood the secret to being rich.
I remember in my wild high school days I used to have friends sleep over a lot. One night I had permission for my friend Donna to sleep over. Well, I came home with not one, but two friends. I can still remember sneaking my friend Vickie up the stairs on her hands and knees while mom was sitting in the living room. Of course, we were laughing so hard, she suspected something was up. But when she came upstairs and opened my bedroom door and saw the three of us there, she just laughed. Everyone was welcome.
Even in my wildest years, my mom never gave up on me. She kept hoping, praying, believing that I would come around. She bailed me out of trouble and disciplined me because she could see the bigger picture.
My mom understood that serving was better than being served. As many of you know, she was involved in this church and served in various capacities for many many years.
She sang in the choir, served in the altar guild and the prayer chain. She regularly visited shut-ins, and organized a woman’s retreat.
Mom loved this place, and she loved the people here. Even as her health declined over the past several years, the only thing that mattered to her was being able to get to Our Savior’s church every Sunday so that she could worship.
I never realized what an impact she had made here until I was speaking with my friend Arleen the other evening and she told me about how mom had supported her and the other young mothers with the moms group for many years. Mom was always there, praying, interceding, supporting.
Mom was rich in life. A loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She loved travel, adventure and trying new things. I remember when we went to Israel together in 1993, she couldn’t wait to ride the camel. That was the highlight for her.
Mom was a woman of faith, and she understood the principle of Galatians 5:6, that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. She lived her faith by loving the people around her.
Even in her final moments, mom gave us a gift to cherish.
I have lived overseas for almost 20 years, and my brother Rob and sister Judi have also lived outside of this area for most of their adult lives. Whenever we came to visit or mom came to visit us, there was one thing that remained constant. Whenever it was time to say goodbye, mom would tear up and cry. It never failed. She hated to say goodbye.
In her final moments, she knew that she wasn’t going to see us for a while. Her eyes opened and tears streamed down her face as she said her final goodbye.
As mom walked into the arms of Jesus, she was a very rich woman. It has nothing to do with the amount of finances that she did or didn’t have in her bank account.
Her life was rich because she understood that being rich is not about how much you have or what you can get, but it is about how much you can give.
I hope her example inspires us all.
From left to right (siblings in birth order): Rich, me, Judi, Suzanne, Rob & in front, Mom