Happy Mothers Day

Shirley CruthersIt's been ten years since my mom passed away.  Every year on this day I watch the video I made from hundreds of pictures of her life over the years.  I also read the eulogy I wrote and gave at her funeral.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. Public speaking is easy for me.  It was the finality of a long good bye that was difficult.

It was my mother who taught me about life, gave my praise and encouraged me to chase my dreams.

Mom spent nearly a full year in hospice. Dad cared for her in my childhood home until her last day on Christmas Eve morning of 2004.  I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with her towards the end.  She may be gone, but she lives through me, my siblings and everybody who knew her.  That kind of love never dies.  She truly inspired everybody around her to be good, giving, loving and to enjoy life.  She just made people feel good.  Without her this Softball Journey blog would not be possible.

Encouragement to Chase My Dreams

mom margret charlieIt was my mother who taught me about life, gave me praise and encouraged me to chase my dreams.  And that is a big part of what the Softball Journey is all about.  That's the big picture.  I hope each of you who are lucky to still have your mothers in your lives fully appreciate all that they've given to you.  Life gets busy and complicated and sometimes we forget how blessed our lives really are.  At times we take for granted that they'll always be there for us.  But that cannot be.  I hope this reminds you how precious life is and inspires you to show your mother a little extra love not just today, but every day.

Below is the Euology I wrote and gave at her funeral.

Shirley Ann Cruthers

Mom, Vick, Tom & IThe love of a mother is an eternal gift that lasts not only a lifetime, but is a gift that is passed down through generations. It was the love of my mother that helped shape me into the man I am today. Family values and traditions, the caring for others, generosity, encouragement, sharing, building friendships, loyalty, dreaming, and just plain having fun were some of the wonderful qualities that my mother instilled in me. I will be forever grateful to my mother for what she has given to me.

We are here today in honor of the life of my mother, Shirley Ann Cruthers. As I think about my Mom's life, I am overwhelmed with precious memories of her and I hope you can remember her in yours mind's eye, as you knew her best, but not in her frail last days. Dad knew her as a loving wife of nearly 45 years; my siblings and I saw her as the perfect mother. She was also known as Grandma Shirley, Aunt Shirley, as a neighbor, and as a friend. I saw her in all those roles and she awed me in each.

For anyone who has known Shirley for any length of time, you know that she was a caring and loving woman who had an aura about her, which made her quite likable and pleasant to be around. Some of my Mother's proudest achievements: A long lasting marriage, raising children, nurturing all of her close and extended family, and maintaining friendships. On the senior picture that she gave to her high-school sweetheart, my Dad, she wrote “To the only man I will ever love”.

“There damn well better be crying at my funeral…”

halloweenMom’s career outside the house never diminished her role as wife and mother in our home. She worked off and on for a number of years at Citizens Bank. Working as a teller, she was robbed twice. The second time was especially a bad experience. After taking some time off she went back to the bank, but not as a teller, rather in the money order department at the headquarters. She also started a screen-printing business, which often provided all the Mt.Morris Little League teams with hats and shirts. Whether she was working or not, she always had dinner on the table by a decent hour and always made time for her family.

I can still remember her calling us kid’s home to eat…

Mom volunteered at the schools in many ways over the years. She worked the Reading Is Fundamental program, better known as RIF, at Pinehurst Elementary while we attended there. She served as a teacher’s aid for a couple of years there too. She always helped at school parties, making treats and cupcakes for birthdays. As many of you know, these weren’t your average goodies and cakes. They were extraordinary creations.


I also remember the fantastic Halloween costumes she made for us…

cookiesFor our High School years Mom and Dad volunteered in the Athletic Boosters. This was just one of the many ways she cared and provided for her children. One summer she volunteered as our baseball coach when nobody else would. She played the role perfectly, hitting us infield, pitching batting practice and occasional trips to the batting cages. For a couple of years she designed and produced the hats, shirts, and programs for varsity baseball. Throughout all of our years participating in football, baseball, softball, weightlifting, swimming, track, and all the other extracurricular activities we were involved in, Mom never missed a game or special event. She gave us nothing but praise, encouragement, and her full support.

I would look for her in the stands and it comforted me to see her…

As we grew and started careers and families of our own, Mom finally made time for herself. She always enjoyed visiting with her siblings, nieces and nephews, neighbors, and friends. She especially liked family get-togethers and parties with friends, though she seldom drank and didn’t require it to have a good time. Just being with friends, family, listening to country music, playing a few games of Euchre or Scrabble, and of course occasional trips to the casino…that’s what she liked. It was never about winning cards or hitting the jackpot…it was about being with the people that she loved.

She’d stay up all night playing scrabble or cards with old friends…

mom lindsay brookeHer role as Grandma Shirley brought her motherly instincts and love back into high-gear as she adored her grandchildren. She held and comforted them as infants, crawled on the floor playing Peek-a-Boo with them as toddlers, played games with them as grade schoolers, helped teach them how to swim or hit the ball, supported them in their school activities and sports, and always had plenty of hugs and kisses for them.

The expression “The Kissing Masseys” was much to her credit…

During the last few years she became a member of the Birch Run Moose Lodge. Once again she was able to do the things she loved like making decorations and crafts, building floats for the July 4th parade, helping throw parties for the children during the holidays, playing cards and family feud, and especially the building of new friendships. Mom was the ultimate people person.

Whenever she’d introduce me or my children to her friends there…her pride was visible to all…

april driveSo many people I have known and talked with over the years have had the honor and pleasure of meeting and or knowing my Mother. I know this because they’ve told me so. She was one of those people you simply enjoyed being around. She had a heart of gold. She liked conversation, but not just the talking. She was a great listener. You could always talk with her and receive positive feedback and 100% of her support…anytime. Many of us relied on her for these talks, which was really just another way she cared for and nurtured us…and her sincerity was never in doubt.

You could always count on the support of my Mom…

campingMom was and will continue to be an inspiration to us all. The encouragement and praise she provided me as a child and adult has enabled me to follow and live my dreams. I owe all of the success in my life (my family, wife, children, friends, career, hobbies, and travels) to my Mother and Father and the loving home and childhood they provided me. My brother and sister share the same gratitude. Our children now receive her love through us and will pass these qualities, traditions, values, and love on to families of their own some day. Her charisma and love will live on through each of you here today as well.

Although I cannot possibly share every story with you about my Mother, my Dad’s wife, your Aunt, your Grandma, or your friend…I ask you to again….remember her as you knew her best…with a smile on her face…ready to share her time and love with you.

It is now that we say to my Mother…thank you and rest well. You have earned your wings and they are golden.