The mother of my friend died on July 4, 2016. Cheryl asked me to give the eulogy at the funeral mass at St. Ann’s Church in South Hadley, MA.
Today, with heavy hearts, we come together in this solemn space, to celebrate the life of Theresa and to mourn her loss in our lives.
We learn from the events of her life, our own lives, that life is unpredictable. And yet, we go on each day weaving our dreams, making plans, taking steps towards what we think will make us and others happy.
Theresa had big dreams and she put her whole self into making them a reality. Her sights went beyond the farm she grew up on, with her loving parents and sister. She did not feel bound by the earth.
She looked to City lights and a career in modelling. And, although she achieved some acclaim in modelling, it was not to be her lifetime career, nor would she experience celebrity and all the wealth and perks that go along with that. Yet, she was happy that she strove and attained a piece of the pie, however small.
She was accepted into a prestigious, private college and that was a proud moment for her and her family. During the 3 years that she attended, she loved the college atmosphere, drawing in all that knowledge, being exposed to new ideas, contemplating what was possible.
Completion of the degree would elude her. Yet, she used what knowledge and skills she learned at AIC and the Charm School and the modelling School as well as her own innate intelligence to craft a work life that was satisfying and successful and earned her own money.
This period would not last long as she had married and now had a baby daughter to care for. Theresa was keen to see that she and her husband did not share the same dreams and values to make for a happy marriage and family. After the divorce, the gold dust she gleamed from this short relationship was her daughter Cheryl.
It was as if the heavenly angels brought these two spirits–Theresa and Cheryl– together for mutual caring, encouragement, friendship, and love.
They did exciting things together. They went on short trips. Theresa bought Cheryl the latest fashions. They lunched on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. They had fun together!
Of course, underneath the fun times and adventures, was the stress and struggle of being a single Mom and raising a daughter. Theresa did it with such grace and poise, others could hardly notice the sacrifices she was making for Cheryl.
Cheryl has become a lovely woman, inside and out. She graduated college and has enjoyed a successful career and financial prosperity. She is in a long-term loving relationship with a kind, gentle, caring man who loves her deeply and is devoted to her.
So what eluded Theresa, Cheryl has achieved. We see the values Theresa instilled in and the behavior she modeled for Cheryl, in Cheryl.
Jackie Kennedy, one of Theresa’s heroine’s once said: “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
This is Theresa’s legacy: her role as a single devoted mother who, on her terms, raised a beautiful daughter. A mother’s love.
We can assume from everything we know that this was God’s divine plan for Theresa. We can give Thanks to God for it.
And now, it is time to turn to God and Thank God for His promises to Theresa, to Cheryl, to Al, and to all of us for eternal life; life without beginning or end.
Jesus said “in my Father’s mansion, there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; For I am going, to make ready, a place for you.”
Jesus also told us “I am with you always, til the end of time.” So let’s go on, with some joy in our hearts, knowing that God has fulfilled his divine promise to Theresa. And, for us to take comfort in the Holy Spirit who God has given us. And, give heartfelt thanks for the life lived by Theresa.