I'm walking as a tribute to my mother in law, Peg, who was afflicted with the various stages of Alzheimer's for the last 10 - 12 years of her life, and for the countless many who are suffering and will suffer in the future from this tragic disease.
In Peg's memory I want to share with you the eulogy that I was honored to give at her funeral Mass in June of 2014. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"One of the greatest treasures in life is our mother. In God's infinite wisdom, when he chose to send his son to become a mortal being, he gave Jesus a mother. A person who supports you, teaches you, disciplines you, and loves you unconditionally. A precious person throughout your entire life. As we reflect on Peg's life, it's easy to see her as the epitome of that motherly spirit that God intended. Her devotion to family, her passion for homemaking, gardening and family duties were paramount in her mind each day. And it was her unselfish nature that we will always remember and treasure.
Peg may have had Alzheimer's, but Alzheimer's never had Peg's spirit. While the disease impacted her memory it couldn't conquer her free will, her love for her family or her kind hearted spirit. She remained that gentle spirit throughout her elder years and despite the debilitating disease, her courage showed through.
When she realized you were there to see her, she greeted you with a smile that lit up her face like a glow of an angel. And even as the disease stole her usual smile, her eyes would still light up with excitement.
If her husband Ted was here, he would be talking about Peg as the love of his life, the prettiest girl he ever met, the best thing that ever happened to him and how they were very close to celebrating 69 years together. They were together again in time to celebrate Memorial Day in heaven. Something that I know the Colonel would enjoy immensely.
Peg's character was that of a humble woman, devoted to family, nurturing, loving and hard working. She took her daughters to mass on Sunday, insisting the family sit in the very front pew at Transfiguration Church. There she sang as loud as she could in a key that only Peg could admire.
She never wavered in her caring and positive attitude. One of her core values she exhibited in a favorite saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Additionally, while the disease eventually limited her vocabulary, one of her recent favorites was, "Sure", when asked if she wanted to take part in an activity or join the group in a song. A real indication of her inner joy, her spirit of cooperation and her heart of gold.
Peg was not one to chase the limelight. She found her greatest joy in her family, her homemaking and in her garden. She taught her daughters the joys of gardening, sewing, swimming and an appreciation for Mother Nature.
And from my perspective, she welcomed those tall men that entered her daughters lives and grew to love us too and treat us like her own. I will always remember her greeting me by simply saying, "You're so tall!" with the same great enthusiasm each time she met me, and giving me a big smile, hug and a laugh to match. How can you not love a person like that?
God bless Peg:
For her simplicity,
For her affection for family and friends,
For her loving nature and kind hearted spirit,
For her no frills approach to life and her devotion to her husband and her children, grand children & great grandchildren
For her efforts to educate her daughters to become independent, compassionate and God loving members of the community,
For her love of nature and her unselfish approach to life.
And in the end, Peg maintained control of her life. She waited until all of her daughters were able to come in and see her one last time. But she chose to leave this life after all had gone home and she could be alone with our Lord.
As sure as there's a heaven, I know that Peg is there. She lived with an attitude of putting others first, so as Jesus taught us, "on judgment day, the last will be first." Peg has earned her spot at the front of the line, where there is no pain, or suffering or Alzheimer's.
She will always be the "Peg of our hearts".
I'd like to close with a quote from Amelia Earhart that I know Peg would enjoy. One that speaks of her spirit.
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
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