In memory of my Mom on what would have been her 69th birthday, I’ve decided to post the eulogy that was given at her Funeral. I was hesitant to post this because I didn’t want to come of as a grandstander, but I thought it might give people comfort and help them remember my Mom on what is a very tough day.
Christine K. Walker Eulogy:
On behalf of my Father, my Brother, my sister and the rest of our family, I would like to thank each and every one of you for all of the kind and thoughtful generosity you have shown us. We know the impact that my Mother had on all of you, and your inspiring memories and heartfelt stories have made what has been a devastating moment for all of us a little bit easier.
Christine Walker was beautiful. Those gorgeous dimples, that sparkle in her eye, that infectious sense of humor and her love of life was simply beautiful. She was one of the most unique people I have ever known. I never met a person she couldn’t make laugh. I never saw a situation that she couldn’t make instant friends in. She had an impact everywhere she went. Even when she was in her Wheel chair, you couldn’t go anywhere where she wasn’t making people laugh or people weren’t rooting for her. For a person who always spoke her mind for better or for worse, she always had so many people who she affected in such positive ways. People loved that she was authentic and she shared her heart with so many right away. Ultimately though she was a very simple person. She loved God, her husband, her Children and Grandchildren, our relatives and the NY Lotto. If you knew my Mom you knew what the words Boonie, Gubo, Midgie and Pie guy meant. If you don’t know, it meant my Mom loved her kids unconditionally and did it in a way all her own.
The funny part about my Mom is that she never understood her own value. She would always make off handed comments about her looks, or her toughness or her food and sadly I don’t think she ever realized how much she really impacted the people around her. All throughout this week and throughout her fight against her health issues, people from all walks of life have told us these amazing stories about her and how much she meant to them. Whether it was my Mom making fudge for Dennis Gargano, an Irish Soda bread to send up to the Coakley’s or the Galgano’s, or the tons of my cousins who always say how much a home cooked meal from my Mom meant to them, she really impacted so many people’s lives in ways she never truly knew. Whether she was downplaying her slumguloun, her Spaghetti and Clam sauce or her Pot Roasts, she never understood how much we all looked forward to them. She cooked from the heart and she put love into everything she cooked. Her food was a reflection of her, it made you feel good, you always enjoyed it and you always wanted to come back for more.
Saying the name Christine though will never be complete without saying Bob immediately afterwards. Chris and Bob were like Peanut Butter and Jelly. They were the perfect mix of order and Chaos. They played off each other so well that people were always coming over to enjoy a good time with them. I can’t even count the endless hours of folks playing Yahtzee and Pictionary at our Dining Room table over the years. The best nights were when Mom would break out the Onion Dip and chips at about 1:30AM because you knew we still had at least 2-3 more hours left of having a great time together. It could be Mom’s side or Dad’s side visiting or a mix of both. It could be neighbors or it could be some of their kid’s friends. Everyone had such great times with the two of them. They loved each other so much. It was never more evident though than the last 5 years or so. No matter how much help my Mom needed, my Dad always seemed sad he couldn’t help more. If the measure of someone’s love is when things are truly at their worst, then you have to say the two of them had a love for the ages.
One of the places my parents had the best impact is on the street where we grew up. Growing up on Emerald lane in the 80’s was such a great experience. You had a block full of kids running around from sunrise to sunset. The parents and the kids all got along and we were like one big family. We played whiffle ball at the Galgano’s, we made snow boat trails from the Millers yard all the way down to the Blanford’s and chances are if you were a kid on Emerald lane in the 80’s my Mom babysat you and had an impact on your life. Chances are also good that if you lived on Emerald lane anywhere from the mid 70’s to the Mid 2000’s you probably drove my Mom to get Cold Cuts, Lotto numbers or a Secret Sale at Penney’s one time or another. My Mom was a staple to our neighborhood. She loved kids and she was great at taking care of them. She would create bonds with the kids that she babysat and she treated them like they were one of her own kids. That’s who my Mom was. She was authentic and real and the kids loved her for it. Her nieces and nephews felt the same way. In a family our size my Mom still stood out because they knew she cared about each and every one of them. Her quick wit and great sense of humor charmed everyone. You couldn’t help but love her.
One of the biggest ways my Mom showed how she cared for you was buy buying things for you. As you all know, my Mom loved to shop. She used to tell my wife that Erica and her sisters were to sports what my Mom was shopping. She looked at it like a competition and more times than not she came out the winner. If you were a sister, or a niece of hers, chances are that you have worn a dress or two to a wedding that my Mom bought. Chances are also pretty good that my Mom told you what the dress originally retailed for, not what she paid for it. If you were her husband, son or nephew chances are that you had a Ralph Lauren sport coat that she got for only $9 after a combination of multiple secret sales, a rebate and a coupon that may or may not have expired prior to purchase. Anytime my brother and sisters and I were able to catch a ride to the mall, you couldn’t get out of the house without my Mom giving you a list customer service visits to stores with rebates, price adjustments or some tale of woe you were to tell the Store to get a few bucks back on a prior purchase. My Mom looked at shopping as a one on one battle where only the clever can survive. It could be tough to be her driver on a day when she would try to bamboozle some hapless cashier on a Triple Coupon day in Connecticut where there was no sales tax. You couldn’t help but feel bad that these store folk had no idea what they were getting into when they came over to my Mom with a simple “Can I help you Ma’am?” My Father and my siblings can all recall many times waiting by a side exit long after the Mall closed for a security guard to have to let my Mom out of the building with all of her purchases late into the night. We would all sit there annoyed to no end that we had to wait, until she would get to the car so energized with her savings, that you couldn’t help to forgive her and even revel in her success. After all, $75 in coupon savings is nothing to sneeze at.
From a far, a lot of people could look at my Mothers life with sadness. She certainly had so many things she had to overcome in her life. But I would never see her life that way. I look at her life as one of great inspiration and triumph. I look at her life as a fighter who never gave up and always overcame any obstacle put in front of her. Recently, a family member, Robin Dillon told me, she always called her Wonder Woman, and I couldn’t agree more. To be able to take on some of the toughest challenges I have ever seen anyone overcome and still have time to laugh and to love like she did is truly remarkable. Whenever any of us look at life and think we can’t win or we can’t overcome, I want you to think of this beautiful woman and all she went through. She beat the odds time and time again. She took the hardest shots life could throw at you and she persevered with style and grace. Early this week someone told me they thought that I really had a rough year with some stuff at work and with the things happening with my Mom and that really surprised me. When I looked at my situation, all I thought of was my amazing wife and kids, the great times we have every day and how no matter what tomorrow brings, I had already experienced so much more than I ever thought I deserved to. That comes from my Mom. She was humble, she was grateful. She always was so happy and fun because she knew what mattered to her, God, her husband, her kids, her grand children and her family. She loved us all so much, and that love was stronger than any challenge and she wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that. For a woman who was suffering with real problems, she was always praying for all of us and our smaller problems first. That is truly heroic and that is something we should all strive to be like.
Mother Theresa once said “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” I agree with that statement, but if that is true, I can only think that if a simple smile was that powerful, imagine how much good a smile like my Mothers was able to accomplish. I have no doubt that such a faithful Catholic woman is now enjoying heaven with Chrissy and making everyone laugh up above. If there is a version of Atlantic City in Heaven with the beach and salt air up there, I have no doubt, she has already booked a time share there and is looking forward to playing the slots again and hoping all of your birthday numbers come up in the lucky draw. But the real irony of my Mom always hoping for the big jackpot is that the jackpot was already won. It was won by all of us when we were blessed to have this loving woman in our lives.
You’re in our Heart, Your In Our Soul you’ll be our breath as we grow old. You’re in our soul.