My Mother’s Eulogy
by Kim Ades
As many of you know by now, my mother passed away on January 7th, 2019. I thought that I would take a moment to share the eulogy I wrote for her. Mothers are great teachers. In reflecting on my mother’s life and the lessons she taught me over the years, I realized just how much she influenced my perspective and approach as a coach.
My Mother’s Eulogy
The last time we were in this room together, you took my father and you set him up with a great role by your side as a trusted advisor. I know that he is doing well next to you. How do I know? Because he often visits me in my dreams and lets me know. Just over a week ago he showed up in one of my dreams. Our arms were linked and he put his cheek next to mine – I could feel his soft skin against my cheek. I knew he was there to tell me that he was ready for my mother to return with him – he made it clear that he was waiting for her impatiently.
Today we are here because it was finally time for my mother to join him.
But let me tell you that she played hard to get. She was not so willing to go. She stuck it out with us until she was absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, ready to go.
Thank you God for taking her naturally, easily, painlessly and peacefully.
My mother was my hero. She was everything a mother should be. Loving, kind, generous, and always, always there for you – no matter what. She was my greatest role model – not only as an accomplished career woman, but as a wife, a mother, and a sister.
She would wake up super early in the morning to prepare dinner for that evening. My dad would complain about the odour in the house because she would fry garlic and onions at 6 a.m. to ensure a delicious meal. She would then go to work, put in a full day managing her staff and serving her clients as bank manager, come home, set dinner on the table, have dinner with her family, clean up, fold some laundry, and start all over again the following day. I used to call her Wonder Woman. She was a super hero in every sense of the word.
Her claim to fame was speed – she could cook faster than anybody, shop faster than anybody, walk faster than anybody, and even drive faster than anybody. And she did it all with pride, determination, and always a smile on her face, never a complaint. She always expressed a joy for life that was larger than life. Even in her final days when I would call her every night at 6 p.m. to talk to her and sing her a series of songs, she would find some way to express her engagement and appreciation for my call.
“Are you ready for the last song?” I would ask her every single night. “Say I’m ready!”
“I’m ready!” She would reply. And I would complete every call by singing her happy birthday. For the past few months, after hanging up from each call, I wondered if that would be the last time I would sing to her.
I think of my mother as my greatest teacher.
As an executive coach people ask me where I learned my coaching skills. The truth is that my mother taught me everything I know about coaching. She was the ultimate coach. And while I call them the “Frame of Mind Coaching Principles”, they are really the Principles of life designed and created by my mother. Let me share them with you…
- When you are feeling bad, turn your attention to that which makes you feel better. When my niece was a kid and she would cry, my mother’s immediate response was “Look, look, look at the bird!” Distracting her just enough to stop crying.
- Accept yourself completely. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with her when I was a teenager. I looked in the mirror and felt very frustrated with what I saw. I turned to her and said, “Why did we have to be born with such fat legs?” Her response was this “There’s nothing wrong with our legs. I love myself just the way I am and you have to love yourself too.”
- Always conduct yourself with integrity and do the right thing. Live according to your values. This showed up in everything she did – whether it was showing up to visit a sick friend with a bag of home baked delicacies, correcting a cashier when she would accidentally return too much money, or going back to the store after getting home and discovering that there was something in her bag that was not on the bill. My mother ALWAYS did the right thing.
- Be clear about your priorities. It’s ok to work hard. It’s okay to play hard. It’s okay to travel, and socialize, and live a good life. But when push comes to shove, family comes first. And that is how my mother lived her life with every waking breath. She was always there for everyone. Family first – that was her motto.
- Respect yourself and show people how to treat you. For as long as I live, I will never forget the day that she was at home with me on one snowy day at 200 Hyman Drive. It was a weekday and she was at home because a few days earlier she had a car accident and had a torti-colis. She took a day off to rest and put a collar on her neck. Living on a corner lot, our house was the bus stop for many kids from different schools. At around lunch time that day, she noticed the kids on our front lawn, sliding down the hill pulling all the snow down onto the driveway making it impossible for my father to get in and out of the garage. She opened the door and politely asked them to stop. They did. And about 2 minutes later, they started sliding down the hill again, creating an even bigger traffic jam on our driveway. This time, she wasn’t so polite, she went into the garage and pulled out the hose and sprayed those kids with water yelling at them to stop sliding down the hill. She definitely made her point. Don’t mess with Mrs. Ades.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get trapped in small inconsequential battles. Forgive and forget and move along. Waving her hand as though waving the problem away she would say, “These are stupidities.” Take it easy, be light, and don’t take things too seriously and live harmoniously with the people you love
- Treasure the people in your life. Especially your kids. Enjoy them. Treat them kindly. Shower them with food and gifts and your time. Teach them how to cook your personal recipes and how to pick a good watermelon. Play a few rounds of cards with them and make sure they don’t cheat. Take them shopping, help them with their homework, give them treats every now and then, and show them you love them. Your kids are guests in your home.
- Give generously. No wait – give VERY generously. Why? You are not going to take it with you. No one was more generous than my mother. She gave with an open hand and an open heart. If she was preparing a meal, she’d prepare for an army – “It’s always better to have too much than not enough”, she would say. And for whatever reason, she always had a stash of cash tucked away. As a teenager, her brother had a mad crush on a girl from across the street and needed some extra money to take her out. He could always count on her to spot him a few.
- Never put limitations on yourself. You can do anything you want – you just need to believe in yourself. She used to say that a person who wants to study doesn’t need a fancy school, they can study in the bathroom if they are really determined. My mother always thought of herself as capable of doing anything. Get a job as a secretary with no typing skills and no English proficiency? No problem.Cook a meal for 20 with absolutely no notice? A breeze. Rise up through the ranks and eventually become a bank manager? Absolutely. Pick up her 200-pound mother off the floor single-handedly. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible.
- It’s okay to feel bad when something bad happens – but not for too long. It’s important to get up, dust yourself off, and move along. There’s still some living to do. She used to say “Go put on some makeup – you’ll feel better.”
And while my tears may have messed it up, I took a little extra time this morning to do my makeup.
Before I leave this podium there’s one more thing I want to do. I’d like you to join me in one last song. Are you ready? Say ‘I’m ready’!
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Fernande
Happy Birthday to you!