Virtues Reflection Card courtesy of The Virtues Project™
Virtues in Action
Nowhere are virtues more prominent then when someone dies. David Brooks, in his new book, The Road to Character, talks about Eulogy Virtues and Resume Virtues. This week, I've had the opportunity to remember my mother, who passed away last week at the age of 97, for her "eulogy" virtues. I've been thinking about which virtues I want to speak about at her memorial service with our family. I've also reflected on the virtues I've been able/challenged to develop in my long journey the past seventeen years with Mom, as she and I both aged together. Many of those years I found extremely difficult, as we worked through many mother/daughter issues. I felt overly responsible for many of her choices. She wanted to stay independent as long as possible, often railing and angry about the ravages of age, including hearing loss, macular degeneration and dementia. It was hard for me to balance responsibility as her child who was nearby, with joy and self-care. It was all tied together with love and commitment: love for each other and other family members, and commitment to be helpful and caring the last years of her life. In the end, she died as she lived, on her own terms, as much as possible. Most people called her feisty! And I got to practice patience, acceptance, respect, and loyalty as well as endurance and perseverance, not always gracefully I must admit. But there was always Love.
Betty Fontaine Garin was born in New York City in 1918. She was a proud New Yorker her whole life, even though she lived in Virginia, California and Washington. She lost both parents by the age of fifteen and was sent to live with her brother and his wife, who weren't much older. She married her high school sweetheart and was a devoted wife and mother to their three children. Family was always most important to her. She renewed her life after a very difficult divorce by moving to the ocean, where she found peacefulness and healing through walking on the beach and new friendships. She found great happiness with her second husband Steve Garin and they traveled extensively until his death in 1999. She persevered, moving to an independent senior community, then to assisted living and finally to memory care, until she and her belongings were pared down to her basic essence. She didn't always accept these changes gracefully, but she kept her dignity until the end. Some of the virtues I honor my mother for are love, dedication to family, perseverance and endurance, determination, consideration, patience, sacrifice, strength, and gratitude. I miss you and love you, Mom. I know you are dancing in the "Great Beyond."