I just returned from a memorial for my Mom, amazing how life turns and twists.  There were no remarks that surprised me, they all touched me, past word.  The memorial was in Gettysburg, where some 50 years ago we shared a property boundary with Granddad and Mimi and the Eisenhower Farm.  Last week, her love of people showed past any expectations with the love and compassion of so many friends that gathered to show love and respect. 

She was a beautiful and graceful woman, with international diplomatic skills as well as the skills to be a mom.  Below are the remarks I shared at her Memorial.  For the record, all of us shared remarks, and my siblings were inspirational and deep - I wish I had a copy of theirs to share as well.

Mine went as follows:

My mother was an amazing woman.  I really only took her for granted as "Mom", but learned from others explicitly last year when I went to Taiwan.  I was there to help Taiwan celebrate a new exhibit "Hello, Mr. President!"  It was in honor of the friendship between Taiwan and the United States.  Granddad was the only sitting US President to have ever visited Taiwan, which he did in 1959.  My Grandmother, Mamie, was afraid to fly, so my Mom went in her stead, as Granddad's official hostess.  My father was on the same trip. 

When I saw the exhibit, I saw a picture of my mother - wall sized and looking like royalty.  She was absolutely beautiful and the government of Taiwan was celebrating, not only Granddad, but her as well.

We more or less followed the steps taken so many years ago - and it was wonderful to see Taiwan in both her eyes as well as Granddad's, and of course, my father's. 

During this visit, we went to "Victory Chapel".  The priest there was the very same that presided during the presidential state visit. He pointed out where Mom and Dad, and Granddad sat during the historic visit so many decades before.  The priest lauded Mom, saying she was a natural diplomat, all the way to attending Chapel with the president and his wife.  MME Chiang was on the front steps to greet Mom, and was wearing no hat.  Mom had a hat on and saw MME Chiang without one.  She immediately took her hat off and gave it to the driver.  She and MME Chiang walked in to Victory Chapel hatless to a congregation where everyone was wearing a hat!

But, what spoke to me most about that recall from the Priest was that the same mother who was wining and dining with world leaders was the same Mom who tobogganed with us on the banks of the Gettysburg battlefields and taught us how to make toll house chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the Nestle bag of chips. 

She was a gentle woman, but a superwoman when it came to her love of life.  I will never forget after her breast cancer surgery; a lady came in to her room dressed in gingham and sporting a "daisy" basket with pamphlets, etc.  As soon as the lady was at the door, Mom took one look at her and said, "Hold on, I am in denial and it works for me".  She sent the woman away...

I would like now to read thoughts that Merrill, my son, her grandson, shared with me.  As some of you may know, Merrill became quite close to her while he attended Valley Forge Military Academy in nearby Wayne, PA.  He says:

"My grandmother was everything to me.  Looking back over my life, I have not known a time when her influence was not around me.  She was a wordly person with only experiences people read about.  It was in those experiences that she imparted her wisdom and joy for life onto me.  My best memories of my grandmother were of our late night conversations, often at the dinner table.  In high school, I would visit her.  She would just visit, or listen or allow me to talk to her, and there was never a worry about anyone imparting opinion.  Instead of giving advice, my grandmother would just listen, and tell me how proud she was of me.  While it may have been a simple relationship, it was one founded on love and understanding.  For that, I will always cherish our relationship."

I don't think I could have expressed it better than Merrill.

I am reminded of a Dennis the Menace cartoon, it was published just after Mimi, my grandmother died, which was devastating to me.  I found this particular strip amazingly comforting.  Dennis walks up to his mom and her friend who were sitting on a park bench arm in arm.  The friend is crying.  Dennis asks what is wrong, and his mother tells him that her friend lost her mother.  Dennis' reaction is, well then, let's look for her.  His mother then tells him that we cant' look for her, as she has passed away.  Dennis then says, "well then, if she passed away, she must be with God, and since she is with God, she is not lost at all."

That strip has stayed with me for many years.  After this year, I am convinced that Dennis was right.  I have no doubt that our Mother is a part of God's heart now and that all of our blessings in having her here are now a permanent part of God's blessings, which we receive every day.

She has now become a part of our matrix and will live on forever in each of us she touched .  She will also be a part of the next generations that her children have touched with her influence.

When rocking my grandson about a month after her passing, I was feeling low, but getting cheered by rocking him to sleep.  After fifty something years, I remembered part of a tune and a few lyrics of a song that she sang me to sleep with when I was under three years old.  I didn't even remember this when my own son was a baby.  I googled what words I remembered and the song came up!  It went:  With someone like you, a pal good and true, I would like to leave it all behind and go and find a place that's known to God alone, just a spot we could call our own.  We'll find perfect peace where joys never cease, somewhere beneath the stary skies.  We'll build a sweet little nest somewhere out in the west and lest the rest of the world go by.

In my bereavement it was as though she was there reminding me of her love and making me feel safe all over again. 

So, Mom, play with the angels now, and we will see you again.  I hope you now have that sweet little nest somewhere out in the west. Keep the light on for us, Oh, and I hope there are toboggans and toll house cookies in heaven.




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    Mary Jean Eisenhower is the Principal of MJ Eisenhower & Associates