Found this as I was searching for my passport. Within contains some reflections that I needed to hear as I continue to look for a job.
From Alanna, my beloved sister (we miss you!):
"In Mama's eyes, the accomplishments of her life add up to her devotion to us, her four daughters. Mama's gift to the world was how the four of us live our lives today.
So often during funerals we paint a rosy picture of a person's life, but I don't think that Mama would want us to ignore her challenges. She wasn't perfect, as no one is, but she taught us life's lessons despite the fact that she had a long list of "even thoughs". We generally had what we needed, even though we lived well below the poverty line. Mama created an environment where we could learn, even though she herself had a low level of education. She taught us the inherent value of others, even though she felt unworthy herself. We learned to live by her example, even though some of the lessons were by example of what NOT to do. It took a while for me to come to this perspective, but I believe the four of us were blessed to receive these lessons of our upbringing at her hands.
Erin learned from Mama to enjoy what she has. Erin is the kind of person who will not settle for less than her best and won't let others settle for less in themselves either. She has spent much of her life working for the betterment of others and teaching people how to see themselves differently than their past would predict. She learned not to let her past define her or limit her future. She spends her energy looking at options and possibilities, instead of obstacles.
Mama taught Dee Dee how to make good cheesecake and stuffing. Dee Dee also learned a deep sense of caring from Mama......that caring can be as easy as sharing a smile or a few kind words. Whether it was in attending to the details of responsibility or the needs of the heart, Dee Dee had a lot of practice before she grew up and left home. She spends her time in service to others.....interpreting for the deaf, homeschooling her girls, active at church and generally being where her talents and caring are needed most.
Louie credits Mama with teaching her how to dance and to be resourceful. She also learned to be independent, to work hard for what she wants and that being up against tough odds doesn't mean you have to give up. She had hard lessons that helped her to determine how to raise her own child when the time came. She's done a good job, if Becca is any indication, but the real test will be once Becca has kids---no pressure darlin'...
As for me, I learned the rules of hospitality and family from Mama. She had internal rules that were expressed in her decisions. Things like, kiss your loved ones before leaving the house, because you don't know for sure that you'll be back. If you want to make a regular meal special, just invite someone over to share it with you. Inviting as many people over for St. Patrick's Day dinner as you do for Thanksgiving dinner is an appropriate expression of dual citizenship. If you really feel close to someone, give them a nickname. Food that looks pretty tastes better. Love God and treasure your sisters, especially the ones that makes you laugh the most. And thoughtfulness in gift giving is as important as the gift itself.
Its funny how life can turn on you. For each of those gifts that we received from Mama we were able to offer them back to her in her last years. Erin concerned herself with Mama's quality of life.....and even at the end would not settle for seeing Mama give up. Dee Dee was able to offer Mama the care and comfort she needed; whether it was in making sure that her fridge was stocked, or taking her to doctor appointments or making sure that Mama felt loved. Louie was the emergency resource, there to call the squad or there when storms came or when the lights went out to attend to Mama's oxygen needs. I did my best to live by Mama's rules as we lived together these last few months, to help her feel welcome and to reassure her that we gained as much from the experience as she did.
In the end, she lasted much longer than anyone expected. She lived her dream of returning to Ireland one last time. She looked back on her life & her four daughters, having no regrets. She died exactly how she wanted to and was happy to know that she would be seeing her mother in heaven.
We love you Mama, and we're glad your suffering is finished. Amen"