Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beautiful Service for a Beautiful Woman

I have been avoiding a blog entry about mom's Celebration of Life.  I have been wanting to write about  it, but I don't know where to start.  For those of you from out of the area, or who weren't able to attend the service, there were approximately 800 people who came to celebrate her life.  Mom's freind, Shelly, helped us create a wonderful slideshow of photos.  Nancy Lee Grahn sent us a home video she filmed while visiting my family in 2007 and we played that video at the service as well.  I wanted to speak but I didn't think I could make it thru without crying so I asked mom's good friend, Pastor Mitch, to read my thoughts.  I have received a few emails from people who were there who have asked me to post my speech on the blog.  So, I will leave you with my thoughts.

"When our father died last April we were on over-load.  We were trying to make funeral arrangements for dad while still focusing on mom’s health and emotional well-being.  When his service came, we discussed the idea of speaking but no one felt they could make it thru the speech without crying.  So we passed on the opportunity.  Now, only 18 months later, as we prepared the celebration of life service for our mom, we find ourselves in the same predicament.  I don’t want to look back later with regrets so here goes…. 

I am blessed.  My family is blessed.  Don’t be sad for us.  Although my mom’s time on this earth was much shorter than we would have liked, Doreen was my mom, and that in itself is a gift.  Many of you under the age of 35 thought of her as your “other mom” but we were the lucky ones…. and we never took that for granted.

You learn a lot about someone when they come face to face with the life and death struggle of a disease like cancer.  From an emotional perspective, cancer is one of the most devastating pronouncements a person can receive.  You find yourself living outside of the physical realm of reality at times….But, the truth is, when you hear the word “cancer” you have an immediate choice to make.  You can get caught up in the idea that you might be dying…. Or you can get busy living.  What happens to you in life is usually not within your control, but how you respond to those things most certainly is.

I don’t want to talk about the things I have lost these past few years….I want to focus on what I have gained.  I learned early on that the character traits worth having are those you acquire at the cost of personnel sacrifice.  We have all sacrificed during these difficult times but I wouldn’t change one step I have taken on this path.  We have been living in the moment while still focusing on the big picture.  Life did not pass us by.

My mom will be fondly remembered for the compassion in her heart.  She loved and respected everyone, regardless of their differences.  Her kindness and encouragement to others makes for a legacy that will remain long after her death… and for that we are grateful.

There are a lot of young people in the room today, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  She loved kids, and young adults.  She valued everyone, regardless of their age and she made them feel important.  She especially loved the inspirational kids who might not be the star athlete but the ones with the best attitudes, who made their teammates and friends better people.  Those are the kids she loved the most, and those are the kind of kids we will continue to support and mentor, just as my mom would want us to.

She taught me… the kind of person I am is a matter of my character, not my circumstances.  And I learned that from the best.  When my mom could not change her circumstances, she chose to change her perspective about them.  She didn’t view cancer as a curse, she viewed life as an amazing gift.

My mom inspired me to do better… to be kinder… and be more patient.  She taught me to give more, and take less.  She would encourage all of us to motivate others and take the time to mentor young people.  I think she would also encourage us to volunteer our time…. Or at least a smile… to people who might not expect it, but probably need it the most.  Because… the truth is, no one was a stranger to my mom, they were simply a friend she hadn’t met yet.

I learned that tough times will either break you, or they will make you.  I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a few moments of each, but we did more “making” than “breaking”.  Although I was slow to give into the idea that some things in life can’t be fixed…. life became much easier when I finally accepted that the only thing in the world I could change was my view on life.

Mom made me realize that if you’re not doing something every day to make someone else’s life better, you are wasting precious time that could be spent improving your family, your community, and yourself.  I hope we all get the chance to live like we are dying someday, because from where I’m standing, it’s a blessing in disguise. 

I am not consumed by the fact she has died, I am simply grateful that she lived.  I would choose quality of life over quantity of days, whenever given the opportunity.  I believe the greater loss is not for those of us who knew her, but for those who did not.  My sadness is for the children who will never sit on her lap and giggle as she speaks to them in her “Donald Duck” voice… or the young adults who won’t get to hear one of her heart felt talks about what it means to be a good friend… or a good parent.

Throughout this process I have learned that when we believe life won’t give us more than we can bear; we can bear so much more than we thought possible.

On behalf of my family, I want to express our sincere gratitude for your out-pouring of support, love, and heartfelt sympathy during this difficult time.  We ask that you dry your eyes, keep your head up, and smile…. That’s what mom would want."

Dreaming Big-
Amy

21 comments:

  1. Thank you Amy. Love you all, Aunt Pammy

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  2. Thank you for sharing this with us...Love & hugs to all of you! :)

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  3. Thank you Amy...that means a lot that you shared this with us who had not had the opportunity to meet your mom. Much love to you all.

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  4. Please keep this blog going if you can. Your family has meant so much to all of us for so long. We love all of you.

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  5. I appreciate you posting this so much!! Lot's of love to each of you tonight! Cathy

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  6. Nicely said. Best wishes to the family.

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  7. Oh wow! This made me cry. I need one of her heart felt talks about what it means to be a good parent. It is so hard sometimes! I miss your mom. I miss my mom.

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  8. Amy,

    I attended your mom's celebration of life, and I was really impressed when Pastor Mitch read your speech. Reviewing this blog, has been a daily part of my life for the past few years. Today, I found myself again bringing up this "favorite" site, and found myself reading your words for the third time. Your words truly are inspiring. So much so, that I printed a copy off for each one of my co-workers, and I told them they MUST read them. I want to thank you for taking the time to author that speech. I also printed off a copy for myself as well. When times get tough, or I feel myself feeling pitiful, I will take your speech out and remind myself just how damn lucky I am! Please know how many friends are looking out for you and your family. Take care!

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  9. Please don't give up this blog all together. It has been so important to so many of us for so many years. Your mom and dad are gone from this earth life, but you kids are all still here. Please keep us up on your lives that we are all so familiar with, and let us know how you are all coping with this....

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  10. Wow, your comments are truly inspiring and eloquent! I think I will print out your words too, for inspiration when I'm down. I am sooo sorry for your losses, but you have been truly blessed with wonderful parents and family. I'd like to be half the woman your mom was. Thanks for the blog, and for sharing!

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  11. Please don't give up this blog. So many of us feel like we know your family although we have never formally met....

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  12. Hope you'll update soon, I still check this blog from time to time. Happy Holidays to all the Schmitt kids!

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  13. Thinking of you all this Holiday season.

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  14. Thoughts and prayers for you all during this holiday season.

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  15. What a wonderful gift your mother left for all of us. I did not know your mother, but am getting to know who she was through the blog. I do hope that someday you will turn this into book form for all to read.

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  16. Are you all done with this blog? I keep checking for new posts but see none. Just wondering how all of you are doing. Your mom and dad were just a part of your whole family that all of us have grown to admire and love. Please let us know if you will continue bringing us updates on the your beloved family...thanks

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  17. Is it really over?? Please let us know how you are all doing. We care....

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  18. I agree with the above posts. I check every week or so for updates. Your mother shared you guys with us & we would love to know how you are. I honestly felt as if I'd lost someone when I read that Dor had passed. I would love an update on her cherished children. I continue to pray for you all.

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  19. Hey!Such a healthy blog from you. I learned a lot from it.
    Cancer


    Thank


    Keran

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  20. Please someone update us on your family. We care.

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  21. Still no word from any of you. Please let us know how your precious family is doing.

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