Thank you for coming on this cold and icy day as we gather to say farewell to your wife, your sister, your grandma, your friend and my mother Genevieve. I am the eldest of her seven children. My mother loved all her family, and all their children, all their friends, and their children and was dearly loved by all of us in return. She loved countless dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats, and one cantankerous pony. I’d like to think they all loved her, too.
My mother was born just after the lowest ebb of the Great Depression and grew up on Long Island during the recovery and World War II. She told us stories about capturing Japanese beetles in her father’s garden. She told us how the young girls’ style was to wear Dad’s old cotton shirts, with the tails hanging out, and bluejeans rolled up above the ankles, and about sneaking cigarettes with her best friend Jeannie. About going to see matinee movies with two nickels to buy a ticket and a pickle. She sang us the song, “My mom gave me a nickel to buy a pickle, I didn’t buy the pickle, I bought some chewing gum.” Her mother would ask what she wanted for lunch, and Mom would call back, “A honeymoon sandwich,” to which her mother would say, “OK, Lettuce Alone!”
She eventually went on to attend nursing college and often said she loved to assist the doctors and surgeons with operations but hated changing bedpans. Dad recently told me how he met her on a trip to the beach, and how beautiful she was. They got married and she ended up changing diapers and bringing her children to doctors and surgeons.
Mom had a lovely voice, and one of my earliest memories is of her singing while she did housework:
“Dear Genevieve, sweet Genevieve, shan’t I be young before I’m old?”
I was impressed that she had her own song. And looking back, even as she did get older, she always seemed to have a young outlook.
She was technically a stay-at-home mom, but also a go-out-shopping mom, and a stay-up-late to watch Carson or Cavett mom. This was long before remotes, so sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night to turn off the static. Finally she got a long cord so she could turn off the set from the bed. But in the morning, awake or not, she somehow managed to get us all off to school.
She greatly influenced all of us. We didn’t need Google because she seemed to remember just about everything worth knowing. If one of us told the dog to go lay down, she would remind us “No, it is Go Lie Down.” She told us a story from back in Salem Drive days, apparently I once told her, “This kid used three words I’ve never heard.” “OK, what are they?” She did explain two of them but made it clear that using words like that was not something I should be doing.
Once for her birthday I called her and did my best Ted Cassidy impression, saying, “Ah the Old One – the one who made us.” Mom knew her Star Trek so she just laughed and asked what was new or startling.
The best memories I have of Mom are late in the evening around the kitchen table, when everyone would prod her to tell us family stories. Maybe about Cinnamon and Maureen, or Fire Island. A lot of the stuff I think I remember probably comes from her telling us about it, and I’ll bet that’s true for a lot of you.
Mom liked music, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and the middle of the road stuff on WMAL, but she kept up with some of what we listened to. I know she had qualms when I listened to Jethro Tull or Patrick listened to Killer Queen. Once she was in the kitchen doing a crossword, I heard her singing along to We’re an American Band, and I said, “You know that song?” She replied, “Of course I know Grand Funk Railroad!”
I have no idea what her favorite song was, but I do know she really liked Mac Davis. So I’m going to close with something based on one of his tunes:
Oh, Mom we’re sure gonna miss you,
You were perfect in every way,
You always were happy to see us,
And you got better lookin’ each day,
To know you was to love you,
You just were a hell of a Gram,
We’ll treasure the love that you gave us,
And remember you the best that we can.