Tribute to my Mother
My Mom, Muriel Jeannette Plage Schmitz
November 14, 1912 - January 15, 1997
My Food for Thought today is a tribute to my mother in the eulogy I wrote for her at her Life Celebration in January 1997. It was the most important essay I have ever written or spoken.
"My family asked that I speak for all of us today at my mother’s memorial service. I wanted today to be a celebration of how rare and loving a woman my mother was. I could go on and on for hours telling you many stories told to me from her friends and family.
My mother’s personality throughout her life was her strength.
At the age of 14, at the height of the 1929 depression, she left school.
She put on heels, makeup and got on the El from Brooklyn to Manhattan. She lied about her age and was hired at Barclays Bank to support her family.
PS #56, Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn
At the end of her life Mom appeared frail, but her spirit was always there, leading her on. She always reached for the brass ring. She told me her beloved father had taught her to do so. She wanted the extra chance in life to go the extra mile. That’s why my mother made the decisions she made at the end of her life. She wanted another chance. She wasn’t ready or willing to quit, or stop, or give up. She was a fighter.
My mother had come to an acceptance of herself and those around her that she had never discovered before. The last year of her life was difficult. Physically she was frail. Emotionally, she was content and peaceful. Most people don't change their stripes so late in life, but my mother accepted things at 84 that she never would have accepted so calmly at 74, 15, or 83.
Mom and Daddy at her 42nd Birthday party, Great Neck, LI
Mom always loved a party. She adored nothing more than to put on make-up, get dressed up, go out with friends and loved ones. She loved to eat good food, usually Italian, listen to music, laugh, watch people and have fun.
In the last months of her life she wanted to go out less and less frequently and I had a difficult time understanding this. She finally confided in Tim, my sweetheart, that she felt she couldn’t participate anymore in conversations and what was going on around her. Family Dinner out, 1992
This helped me to understand that in the last months of my mother’s life she realized she couldn’t participate in the party anymore. She wasn’t part of the party. She wasn’t laughing, with a cocktail in her hand, sharing stories. She was tired. If she couldn't be part of the party she didn’t want to be there. She wanted to go home.
And that’s exactly what she did. She went home. She was happy and ready to go.
For me and all of those who loved and miss my mom, the party will never be the same without her."
Mom, Great Neck, where she was happiest - 1956
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to live, love and party. Happy Mother’s Day, how I wish we could still celebrate the day together.
Mom and I at her home in Sarasota, 1995