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How I Remember Mom

Saturday May 9, 2009

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

This is Mother’s Day weekend…my mom, Marie Julia Lynch Eagen, passed away three years ago next month. But today I thought I would share with you how I remember Mom. Below is the eulogy I wrote for my mother’s funeral on June 23, 2006.

“It is not easy to capture the essence of our mother. She came into this world with her twin sister on March 23, 1918. Born to Irish immigrants Humphrey and Margaret McCarthy Lynch in Butte, Montana, they were named Julia Marie and Josephine Agnes Lynch. They were, we are told, born at home and premature, so small that they were each placed gently in a shoe box and set near the oven to keep warm. They were not expected to survive. But today we gather to honor her 88 years as a woman, a faithful sister, a loving wife, a nurturing mother, a caring grandmother and great-grandmother, a kind aunt, a good citizen, and to all of us a loyal friend.

If I had to use one word to describe our mother it would be “principled”. She selected certain principles to live by and believed strongly in passing those principles to each of us. If you knew her for just a short time or for most of her adult life, you know the principles that I am referring to…faith, education, discipline, music, work ethic, and dedication to husband, family, friends, community, volunteerism, and her church. From the time she was very young she was legally blind in one eye. She wore glasses at a very young age and suffered from scarlet fever. When she was 18 she moved to Great Falls, MT and enrolled in nursing college. She was determined to be educated and self-sufficient. In 1938 she graduated as a registered nurse and proudly practiced and kept her license in force until past the age of 80.

She married daddy in 1942, they were 24 and she was the consummate naval officer’s wife, never complaining, living in less than perfect conditions during the remainder of World War II and caring for three small daughters alone throughout the Korean War, making a home in National City. Around 1952 daddy was transferred to Fort Campbell, KY, and we all traveled by train to live on an Army base. Sadly, daddy’s military career ended when he suffered a series of heart attacks and was forced to retire. In 1954 we returned to National City, back to our little two bedroom home on east 17th street. Daddy retired and mom returned to full time nursing, supporting a family of five. In 1955, at the age of 37 she became pregnant with Michael and we all giggled with joy. Daddy bought a Gulf Service Station and we moved to new neighborhood to await the birth of Michael. On a rainy December 8, 1960, we moved to our last family home on “N” Avenue. The move had to be stopped so that daddy could make sure we all went to mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation, and our mother would not accept us not being in attendance. It was the principle! For 42 years that was our home.

I have never understood how she and daddy afforded to educate all of us in parochial schools, each with eight years at St. Mary’s, their three daughters at Cathedral Girl’s High School and Michael at St. Augustine’s, but they did and we learned the value of a good education and with their help we all went to college. To complement this education she insisted, sometimes against daddy’s resistance, that we all learn to play a musical instrument and be able to perform in public. For hours upon hours the girls would take turns at the piano and when Michael was old enough, he learned to play the trumpet. I believe it was more about the experience and the desire that we be well rounded that drove this principle or could it have been those recitals every year that would result from the early hours of diligent practice?

She taught us to sew our own clothes, she taught us the importance of buying good shoes, she taxied us to the orthodontist for more than twelve years to insure that we each had perfect “occlusion” and to guarantee those Irish smiles. At her insistence we all learned to type and homework was an evening ritual that she made sure we completed on our own. If we didn’t know how to spell a word, she would very simply say, “Look it up!” and hand us the dictionary. Maybe this is why we all play scrabble and dabble at crossword puzzles.

Over the years, she celebrated our accomplishments, she danced at our weddings, cradled our babies, and found a way to regularly visit each of us, no matter how far away our careers or marriages took us. She proved to be the best mother-in-law one could ask for, always supportive but never intruding or offering advice(or almost never), perhaps truly living her principle “if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all!”

Daddy died March 27, 1979. Mom was alone, but she found interesting ways to fill her life. She continued her membership in the EAGLES’ Women’s Auxiliary, became active as a RED CROSS volunteer, worked a part time job as a school nurse, served as a precinct worker for San Diego County, dedicated herself to her friends, always willing to offer an hand to one in need of her services, and remained involved with the St. Mary’s Parish.

Today, we are here in St. Mary’s where two of her children were baptized, all celebrated their first communion, all were confirmed, three were married and daddy’s funeral mass was celebrated. Mom came into this parish as a young married woman with two small children and for more than 50 years she came back to this chapel at least once a week and practiced her principle of faith. She leaves us today, with her extended family now numbering 28.

We will not say good-bye today, but simply good-night to Marie, mommy, mom, mother, grandma, ommy, auntie, and friend. Forever a part of each of us, we will remember her winning smile, her blue eyes, and her innate ability to size up a situation and stand on her principles. She will join our daddy, her brothers, and her parents. Today, June 23rd, is the 89th anniversary of her parents’ wedding. She will be home in time to celebrate with them and to once again be held in the loving arms of her Joe.”

The photo above is of my mother and my oldest sister, Joann. It was taken in Butte, MT, in 1944,the year my mom became a Mom. 65 years ago!!


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