Girlfriends – Mom

I just got back from the funeral for my mom and it has prompted me to do something a little different for today’s post. Mom was my friend before any other girl in my life and so it is fitting, and even needful for me at this point, to share with you a bit about her. So, I’m going to share with you the eulogy I wrote for her and I pray that if you still have your mom with you, you will love her well.

Mom
Delsie Custozzo
July 2, 1933 – November 6, 2010 – Eternity with Jesus

As we gather together to celebrate the life of a woman whose very presence challenged us to be better than we are, we can’t help but mourn our own loss.

Mom meant so much to so many. She was a loving wife, mother and friend. We may all describe her differently, but she was a woman who we would all describe with several distinct characteristics that made mom, mom.

Mom was a woman of strength:
Mom’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. When she was 2, her mother died and after suffering the loss of her mother, she was tossed from one family to another. She never had a real place to call home until Aunt Pearl and Uncle Sam took her in when she was about 13. But the lack of love and consistency didn’t make mom bitter – it made her better. They say what doesn’t break you will make you. Mom never let her difficulties become excuses; instead she used her painful past as stepping stones to make her strong.

Mom was a woman of grace, warmth and integrity:
Mom carried herself in a way that garnered respect. There was a graciousness about her that was obvious to all who knew her. Her doors were always open and a meal was always ready for anyone and everyone she knew. She could even beat you at cards or dominoes with a special kind of dignity and grace. She taught us how to appreciate what we have instead of complaining about what we didn’t. How to live honestly, to do what is right, even when no one is looking. How to be more concerned for others than we are for ourselves. She never made excuses for us when we were wrong, but taught us to face up to our failures and learn from them. She even faced death with grace and dignity. She never complained – she just reminded us that others have it worse than she does.

Mom was a simple woman:
It didn’t take much to please mom. She treasured the simple things in life like family, friends and her faith. She loved holidays with families and playing games with friends. She loved to cook – for her husband, for her kids, for her friends, and for anyone who needed a meal. You could set your clock by mom’s schedule. Sunday’s after church were spent playing cards with Dee and Jenny, Tuesdays and Thursdays were spent at Cedar Hills Civic Center playing bingo with Mrs. Parmenter and Mrs. Robbins and making people happy with her egg salad sandwiches. (No one made egg salad like momma).

Mom was a bit adventurous:
When we were kids, she and dad would take us tent camping at Kingsley Lake. We would travel every summer to see family and friends. When she found out Mrs. Parmenter and Zoe were as wild as she was, they all made plans for a three week long cross-country trip that would find it’s destination at the penny slot machines in Las Vegas. Her adventurous heart took her to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Branson Missouri and umpteen trips to Las Vegas. Last year, Momma and Mrs. Parmenter braved their final trip together there even though she couldn’t hardly breathe. You really can’t keep a good girl down.

She was a woman of faith:
As I sat in the hospital with her last year, she shared her testimony with me. She told me of a time about 27 years ago when she realized it was time to live for the Lord and she gave her life to Jesus that day. From that time forward, mom faithfully attended her church, consistently gave food to the poor and tried to live out her faith. Even as her health slipped away, her faith stood strong. I remember at times when she would experience pain, she would tell me that she was offering her pain to the Lord for all He had suffered for her. She said that since Jesus had given so much for her, she couldn’t complain about what she was going through.

Mom loved life. She loved being with her family and friends. She loved to laugh. In fact, when she was really tickled you’d hear an occasional snort or two.

She was known to be a bit stubborn, much like her dad. She knew what she wanted; she knew when she was right and she knew when you weren’t. Even as she battled cancer, she did so on her terms.

Mom was one smart cookie. She loved numbers and she loved helping people with their finances. She probably balanced everyone’s checkbook in this place at least once. She could beat you at any game show and did a crossword puzzle every day. Mom taught us all a lot. She taught me how to live – and now she has taught me how to die.

Mom was also very practical. No “fu-fu” stuff for her. She just wanted what she needed. Nothing more – nothing less.

Mom loved her friends. Normally, games, coffee and good times were involved when the gang got together. Good times and good friends always seemed to make mom’s heart smile.

Mom filled a place in our hearts and lives that will live long beyond this painful day. She was a woman who left a legacy of grace and integrity for all who knew her.

My friend, Lynn Mosher, sent me the following sweet illustration. “You know, at the end of a day, when the sun disappears from view, the sky still glows with the sun’s beauty long after its departure. Its afterglow brings warmth to the heart of one viewing the heavenly masterpiece.
 
The same occurs when a loved one disappears from our view; the afterglow of her presence lingers in the hearts of her loved ones on earth long after she has left our sight. The beauty of such a person never dies, for she leaves behind so much of herself. Our hearts are always illuminated by the memories of her smile, her laughter, her kind words, the touch of her hand, and her love for God.
 
I’m reminded of the roses that climb the garden wall. Some will blossom on the other side, being hidden from our view, but the vine keeps them joined together. And so it is with the wall of death. It merely hides the other side; it does not divide. Our loved ones who have gone on to be with Jesus may be hidden from our view, but they have just blossomed on the other side. And, if we, who remain here, are also in Christ, then we are all united together, because the Vine keeps us together.”

As we sit here today, our hearts ache because I don’t think there is ever a time that we would have been ready for this woman of such strength and grace to be tucked behind a wall of death.

She certainly is a rose whose vine has stretched over to the other side. Her beauty and our connection to her will always remain in our hearts.

Mom meant so much to so many. And though our hearts are sad because she is gone, we have become better people because we were blessed to know her.

But mom is with Jesus right now. Her faith has now been made sight. The Jesus whom she offered her pain to will never allow her to experience pain again. The One she prayed to for healing has now healed her for eternity. She is looking at the One who spoke this world into being and even though we wish she were not gone, she wouldn’t want to come back – she wouldn’t want to leave the presence of her Savior. She would only want to say, please be sure you know you are going to be there too.

As I sit in my backyard, reflecting on life – death – and all things in between, I can’t help but pray I fill my days with significance. Death has a way of reminding us that this is not a dress rehearsal. We’ve got one shot to make a difference. May we all live in such a way that we will hear those coveted words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

8 Comments

  1. That was beautiful… I am sure she would be so proud of you.

  2. That is beautiful, Steph! I didn't know your mama, but she was an awesome woman. After all, she raised you! I'm praying for you, my friend.

  3. Oh, Stephanie, that is a beautiful tribute to your mom. I wish I had known her. She sounds wonderful, and somewhat like my mom. I'm so honored that you used my words. The thought always comforts me, knowing that my mom and other family members have blossomed on the other side and are enjoying that beautiful life in heaven. Praying for your comfort and peace. Love you!

  4. Stephanie, your mom sounds like an incredible woman! You've described her beautifully. Praying for you today dear friend.

  5. Stephanie,

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I am moved to tears at my desk right now having read your words. I love your suggestion that if we have our moms with us to “love them well”.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Our ladies prayed for you on Wednesday night. I am so looking forward to seeing you Tuesday night.

    In Him,
    Melissa

  6. Ladies ~ Thank you all for your sweet comments about my mom. We had a good relationship and I'm so thankful we did. She really was quite an extraordinary woman and I am missing her so much! But I'm thankful I know she's with Jesus. That makes all the difference in the world.

  7. Oh Stephanie,

    I smiled, cried and prayed through this beautiful tribute of who is obviously a remarkable woman in your life and will remain so. What a reunion you'll have when you get to glory with her and you can both rejoice at the feet of Jesus together.

    I pray God's comfort for you and your family. Thank you for sharing a part of your amazing Mother with us.

    Much love!

  8. Beautiful, Stephanie. It sounds like some of your Mom has definitely rubbed off on you.

    What a thrill that must be to her as she watches and listens in on your life from the other side.

    Blessings,
    Jean

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