Sunday, December 30, 2007

Eulogy for Natalie N. Loving

(Guest posted by Thomas Loving)

I don’t want to tell you the things about my mom that is usually expected at a time like this. I don’t want to tell you her full name was Natalie Noelani Loving or that her maiden name was Higashida. I don’t want to tell you that she was a Social Worker for the state or how she excelled at her work. I don’t want to tell you where or when she was born or what college she attended or what political party she belonged to.

All these things are irrelevant. These things are what my mom was…But I don’t want to tell you what my mom was but rather who she is…and to convey to you who my mom is I can’t tell you what she did for a living or what her education was or what side of the ballot she made her checks and crosses—to give you a glimpse of who she is I need to share some of my memories of her with you.

It isn’t the easiest thing for a boy to grow up with the last name of Loving. There always seems to be kids around who will take that name and make joke after joke at your expense, causing all kinds of embarrassment. The last name of Loving, for a boy, is like wearing a bulls-eye on your back for bullies. So I got into more than my fair share of fights. Which is fine until mom saw some kids picking on me not far from our house one day. She came running out of the house screaming at these kids to leave me alone—this 5’ 2” Hawaiian-Japanese tank was barreling down at these kids and they took off. Of course, what’s worse than a kid named Loving then a kid whose mom fights for you? Nothing! But that’s who she is, my protector and fierce guardian.
She thrives on the Word. She is constantly listening or watching messages by a variety of pastors to grasp insight into the Bible. And she’s a Berean, she scours the Bible for the answers rather than just taking a speaker for the truth.

She quotes scripture to me.

When I was a teenager and my mom was in her mid 40’s, I was trying to figure out the whole relationship thing. I spoke with my mom a lot about how I’m supposed to act and how the whole dating thing worked. And she always seemed to have a rather old-fashioned approach to everything. Guy asks girl out. Guy pays for everything, yada yada yada. And, did I mention, I was an ornery teen, and I liked to prank my mom or embarrass her. So of course one day I start asking her all these sex questions thinking, I’ll make her blush and have a laugh.

“Oh, you know it’s private right?” She said.
“Yeah, but ma, I gotta know something about it sooner or later, don’t I?” I said trying to push her toward embarrassment.
Without skipping a beat she starts to say, “Well your dad and I like—“
“Stop stop stop! I don’t need to know.”

So, laughing she turns my plot around on me and begins to tell me more than I ever wanted to know about the birds and the bees complete with mom and dad illustrations—and I am red as a beet when she’s finished. But that’s who she is, sly as a fox, eager to laugh, always wiling to be frank with her children—not to mention still on fire, passionate about her husband after years and years of marriage.

She sings a lot. In the shower, in the car, browsing in a grocery store, she hums a tune or sings snatches of song to fill the silence. She doesn’t mind the quiet but she prefers music.

I hear her screaming my name from the living room. When I dash into the room I find her standing on chair stamping her feet and pointing frantically at a wall. There on the wall is the largest cane spider I have ever seen in my life. So, big son that I am, I grab a broom from the kitchen and quickly come back to get rid of the menace. As I swing at this thing it leaps from the wall, lands on my broomstick and runs straight down at my face. The only thing going through my head is alien face hugger! Now I’m up on a chair next my mom yelling, stamping my feet and pointing at this crazed spider running around on the floor. Eventually I get down, and, screaming like a little girl, I shush the thing out the door while my mom stands on her chair laughing and yelping every time it lunges at me.

That’s who she is too, vulnerable. She is the first woman I’ve ever felt an overwhelming urge to protect, to shield.

She loves to talk. A lot. She calls me and tells me everything, large and small, that’s going on. Then she calls my wife and repeats and expounds on everything. She loves to talk.

Her favorite phrases included, but are not limited to:
The Lord will provide.
This too shall pass.
Oh, praise the Lord!

Most of the things I’ve shared with you about my mom are silly and possibly a little inappropriate for a celebration of the dead. But I share them with you, and I do it with a smile, because I am confident in Christ and I am confident there’s life after this and I am confident in my mother’s faith in Christ and her renewed life. So, this bit of ash and crushed bone sitting before me is just a token of what she was. Who she is:
loving protector and raging defender,
lover of life and laughter,
gentle spirit of prayer,
soothing voice in the night,
love of my father’s life,
strong supporter,
rock of faith,
sweet song at mid-day,

All these things and more, so much more, are who she is now and forever. I don’t celebrate the dead today—I celebrate the living.


jen said...

That's so perfect, Thomas. She was such a blessing to everyone and you really captured that in your words about her. Thanks for sharing that on the site...

mom said...

What wonderful comments, Thomas. Your mom had a sweet sweet spirit that is also evident in you. We love you. the other mom and dad.

jen said...

did I mention that I loved the use of present tense? it reminded me that she isn't in the past but rather present in a different place...

Jared said...

that is awesome thomas! definitely made my eyes water up. looking forward to seeing you back here!