My brother told us that a few weeks ago my mom said to him- I learned a new song today and it goes like this:
I'm hot because I'm fly
You ain't because you not.
This is why, this is why, this why I'm hot.
She's so funny.
So, the funeral was yesterday. It was beautiful and though I was exhausted by the time it was over, I was sorry to see it end. There were so many people there. I think our final estimate was about 700 people. It was amazing to look out from the stand where we were sitting at all the people who were there to pay tribute to my mom. I wanted to take a picture of the cultural hall just filled with seats, but we didn't bring our camera because we had to pack so quickly.
The night before the funeral, after family members and friends left, Dad, Julia, Maggie and I went to the church to set up a memorabilia table and a slide show of pictures from her life. It was about midnight when we got there. Maggie and her friend had been working on the slide show for hours and we watched it there at the church for the first time. It was a very emotional night for all of us. It's absolutely lovely- put to music that she would love, with pictures of her from when she was a little kid until now. If I can figure it out, I may put it up on this blog. We are so grateful to Maggie's friend for going to all the trouble and making such a lovely tribute to my mom. Then we came home and I finished writing my eulogy. I was really pleased with the way it turned out. I may post part of it here. I'm sure I will actually. I was only supposed to take 10-12 minutes and I went for 20! I'm sure that's the first time that has ever happened- another first- I didn't want to end the talk! I believe she was there listening so I never wanted to finish. My brother and sister gave great talks, and then my sister Maggie sang "I Stand All Amazed" and she has the most incredible voice. I don't know how she did it. My mom's brother Wayne and one of my parent's best family friends Marsh also spoke and what they had to say was so comforting. They both did such a great job. There were so many flowers and they were the most gorgeous arrangements. We went to the burial site after the funeral services and that was very nice as well. After visiting with people for a while, we headed back to the church for a luncheon put on by the ward. The food was delicious. I especially liked the fruit. I think I had like three plates of fruit!
This is the hard part. Up until now we've really had to work hard to plan and carry out the funeral. Now all I really have to do is figure out how to start a new life without my mom here. We're heading back to Missouri on Tuesday and I don't know how I'm going to leave. It's hard that we live so far away. I'm worried about my sisters. I'm not sure they are dealing with this loss. I'm not sure how to help them and the only person I know to ask isn't available anymore.
Here's the eulogy I gave:
When I was young, I was asked to give a talk on Mothers day. I asked for my mom's help with preparation for the talk and she told me to start off with this scripture from the Book of Mormon and the story of the stripling warriors: "Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and i did remember the words which they had said unto me that their mothers had taught them." Then she told me to say whatever I did, I could say it was it was because my mother taught me. The way I see it, I'm home free! When I told her I didn't get it, she said, just say it... they'll laugh. Well, she was right. And I still don't get it. Do you like how I was able to use that help from my mom for two talks?
My mom was born in Long Beach on March 1, 1955. She was the oldest of five kids and she loved her brothers and sisters. All growing up, she told us great stories about the crazy things Wayne used to do. When Julia and Richard and I used to fight, she would tell me that she NEVER fought with her brothers and sisters as a kid. I'll have to check with Gayle and Wayne if that's true. She was a very good student, she excelled in her studies and received very good marks. She was a flag twirler in junior high and I've always had the impression that she was very popular and admired by her friends. She hated when we would bring this up, but she competed in the Miss Villa Park pageant her senior year and won! Her talent was singing "If I were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. She was absolutely stunning. We loved looking at all her old pictures and asking her questions from this part of her life.
Many of you know that my mom is an excellent seamstress- she started developing this talent very early- when my mom was 12 or 13, she and her parents were not in agreement about clothes and what they considered reasonable in terms of price and quality. She knew she could do better than what her parents were willing to buy her so she started making her own clothes-at age 12! In high school, she got a job working in a dress shop called Susie's. Her next job was in a bridal salon that made wedding dresses. It was here where her sewing "career" really took off and she started to become the amazing seamstress many of us know her to be. I say "career" only because she was rarely compensated for her skills. Sometimes she traded services, but most of the time she offered her talents without accepting any payment.
My mom really made the most of her college experience. I've always known that she was very proud of this time in her life. Education has always been really important to her and she has always encouraged us to concentrate hard on our studies and work towards a college degree. She loved her studies, but she also filled her time with many extra-curricular activities and different employment positions on campus. My dad showed me a really cute note he wrote for her.
"I, Cole Kimball Warner, do solemnly swear to come over to Marianne Sant's apartment to help her concentrate on me instead of her studies whenever she gets close to understanding them. I also swear to give her 50% vote in all matters of importance (not to include which run to take when we're skiing.)
I love the idea of my dad trying to lure my ambitious and hard-working mother away from her studies and busy life to go out and have some fun.
My mom and dad met at a stake dance in Long Beach while my father was home for Thanksgiving. She had seen him once before while visiting in Utah. He picked up my mom's friend for a date and my mom thought to herself, "that's the kind of guy I want to marry." At the dance, my dad asked her to dance the last song of the night with him, and then he asked her out for the very next evening. He had to go back to Utah the next week, but they kept in touch until she started classes at BYU in January, and there they eventually started dating exclusively. My dad tells me he had to ask her out every night to keep her busy and even convinced her to break a few dates that she had lined up. They were engaged in March and married on June 17, 1976 in the Los Angeles temple. My mom was in graduate school when I was born and my dad was also in school. My mom used to tell me that they would be studying in different rooms and they would whisper secrets to me to pass along to one another. Silly things like "monkey" or "banana." I found a letter my mom wrote after I was born. I thought it would be fun to read part of it: "I've said over and over that Cole is everything anyone could want in a husband. Well, ditto for a father. I just looked over to see the most beautiful picture. Cole was holding her while she fussed a bit, and she went to sleep looking up into his face. I'm so happy... sometimes I think my heart is going to break in two."
Before she went to BYU, my mom studied for about three years at Cal State Fullerton. She was very involved in student government. Every Friday she planned a luncheon for all the students at the institute. Each year she was responsible for putting together a huge banquet with a medeival theme. She always enjoyed entertaining and loved when her house was full of people. Some of my best family memories include getting the house ready for a big party. Some of you may already know that I sometimes have a hard time staying up past 9 o'clock. When I was 12, I asked my mom to let me have a sleepover for my birthday and I fell asleep at 9! My mom stayed up all night with my friends while I slept and the next morning they told me how much fun they had with my mom and that I really missed out! As a child, she loved to go to the Sant Christmas Party every year at her Uncle George and Aunt Nell's house. When she was nearly thirty, with three small children, she started hosting this large family party at our house and it is something we all look forward to every year. Family was very important to her, and she has always been very proud of her heritage. When my Mom was only 29, she lost her own mother to cancer. I remember hearing her say a few times, "She belongs here with us!" I'm going to have to say that I can relate to that. The parallels are kind of startling, because I am also the oldest daughter of five kids and will soon turn 29 myself. She and her mother were very close, and losing her so early was very hard for her. She was determined to keep the family close though, so she made sure to get the family together often and keep family traditions going. For some years we had a tradition where all the families would come to our house for Thanksgiving, spend the night, and the next day we'd all go the movies. My mom and dad would stay up late with Wayne and Cindy and Gayle and David and Lauren and watch movies. It showed how strong she was that even though she was trying to cope with the loss of her mother, and dealing with a very precocious toddler (Julia), she still found the energy to keep the family going and help everyone get through it.
My mom has a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She loves the organization of the Church and she has loved serving in it. I've learned so much about serving in the church from my mom and dad. During the last few years my mom has kept very busy as YW president in her ward. I've said this about every calling she has ever had, but I think this was her favorite calling ever. She loved the women she had on her board and told us about it ALL THE TIME. She also loved working with the youth, and they loved her.
Something else that my mom was doing when she passed away was working with some very good friends in a state steering commitee family leader group that worked together to understand legislation that was being passed in the state and how it affected families. Her friend approached her about family leader, and though she was very busy, still in the throes of carpooling and seminary and parent involvement at school, she felt strongly that she should get involved. She took a strong interest in the group and spent a lot of time studying bills and the effect they had and helping the group know what to do. My mom was an important voice in the group.
Recently my mom and dad have taken on the job of landscaping the backyard together. They enjoyed working out in the yard together and choosing different plants and flowers. I'm so grateful that they were able to share these sweet memories together during their last few months together on this earth. They did such a beautiful job.
Many of you know that my daughter was diagnosed with autism last year. I took it pretty hard, and I relied on my mom more than I can ever remember needing to before. She was ALWAYS there for me when I needed to talk. Sometimes she just listened to me while I tried to cope with that trial. One time she spent an entire day reading up on autism and different treatments and forwarded all of her useful findings to me. Little did I know that there were other members of our family who needed her listening ear and valuable advice and concern just as much as I did. She was always there for people, and not just her kids. I've had so many people tell me about the wonderful talks they've had with my mother and how big of an impact she's had on their lives. She was such a devoted mother to all us kids, that it amazes me that she even had time to reach out to so many others. I marvel at the energy my mother has. I think another thing people love about her is she never held back from telling people how she felt about them. She expressed her love to people freely and rarely was concerned with what people would think. Her intentions and her heart were so pure. I will really miss hearing her bright and thoughtful perspective. She was so smart, and when I called with a problem, she could always help me work it out by looking at the problem from a different angle and in a way that I could never have thought up on my own. Oh! and she had a great sense of humor. I loved how firm she was with her testimony and her love for the gospel, and at the same time, that every once in a while, if you caught her on the right day, she could be just the slightest bit irreverent and come up with something that would just crack you up like, "Hey, let's skip sunday school and go play poker."
She was such a fun mom. When I was really little, she used to make up stories to tell me at night. She even made up a character and just the name made me laugh so hard: strawberry poopcake. I remember us laying in her bed with our faces really close and her just saying the name : "strawberry poopcake." which sent us both into fits of laughter. Once we were at the zoo with some friends in Utah and we were visiting the lions who were really lazy that day. Anyway, one of them had their tail hanging out of the cage and she offered us five bucks if we'd sneak over and swing the tail! I always thought she was so cool. She used to tell us how much she loved the summertime because we were all home and how much she hated when school started in the Fall and we all had to go back. She planned really fun days at the beach and we went a lot during the summer. She also loved Disneyland and took us there often.
It was always hard for my mom to send us off, to college, missions, girls camp... She hated it. She always said the only thing that helped her was to make sure we were prepared for anything. I spent four months on a study abroad trip, although she was thrilled that I'd be having such a great experience, she hated the idea of me being so far away. We spent days shopping for the perfect clothes- she helped me find really cute and stylish yet comfortable and practical clothes and shoes, a perfect backpack to carry when I'd be travelling, and anything else she could think of that might be helpful. She thought I needed more clothes than I thought I did, and there was one sweater set that I didn't want to bring because I didn't think I had the room. When I got to Vienna, I found the sweater set carefully hidden inside my winter coat! We always laughed about that. There was always a note hidden in my suitcase from her telling me how much she loved me and that she was going to miss me while I was gone. When she drove me out to college, she took me to the store and bought me new bedding, school supplies, new clothes, dishes, and stocked my shelves with tons of food.
I'm strong, but I'm nowhere near as strong as my mother. Over the last couple of years, two of my close friends have lost their mothers. Not having been through it myself at that point, I went to my mother for advice on how to comfort them. i think maybe it's a tender mercy of the Lord that I had all these talks with my mother as preparation for what is happening to me now. As we look back over the events that unfolded over the last year or so in our family, we are seeing a bit of a pattern. Like my struggle with Franny's autism, several other family members had trials they needed my mother's help with. I've heard her comment several times on how all her kids are in such a good place and how good that felt. I have since discovered from friends and extended family members that have told me, that my mother also helped several others recently with advice they needed from her. I feel that these things may have been preparation for her departure from this life. Like the stocked shelves in my college apartment, my mom leaves behind members of a family who although are broken-hearted, are strong and doing well.
My sister Maggie told me that a couple months ago she was with my mom in the car- they were talking about my grandmother and how much my mom missed her. Maggie started to cry and said, "Mom, I don't know what I would do without you." My mom said that even though she wasn't planning on going anywhere, there are surprises around every corner, and to be prepared.
I love this woman. I can't imagine a better mother. so intelligent, so sweet, always laughing... validation, best friend.
bobby just like her
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an
object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There, she
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to
bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished
size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my
side says, "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her
coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
"Here she comes!"
- Henry van Dyke (1852 – 1933) American author, educator, and clergyman