The Eulogy of Susan Pietrowski
It’s not uncommon for a person to say or think that they have the best mother anyone could have possibly picked for them. What is uncommon is for that to be an absolute truth.
Susan to you, Mom to me, was a woman who had such passion for everything she threw herself into. She was an avid gardener, a terrific artist, and carried herself with a charisma and grace that was as rare as a red shard of the beach glass she liked to collect. I know that just about everyone here has some knowledge of the person that Susan was, and I’m sure that if you talked to her at length you knew how much her children meant to her, but what you might not know is that she was more passionate about being a mother than anything else she did. My parents separated at a young age, and I can vividly remember times when I was a child where my father had fallen asleep early while I was at his house, times where I was feeling extremely lonely. I would call her up and she would drop everything and speak to me for however long it took to bring me back to content. She would always try to make me think of things that would bring me the most joy, and inevitably we would wind up planning my next birthday party over the phone for hours. What kind of cake we’d have, who I’d invite, where we’d host it. We’d make lists of pros and cons to every part of it.
Mom had a heart attack in early 2009, and when she did I expected to have to take on bigger roles in the household. While I was able to do some things for her, like taking my sister to school in the mornings, she would never let me make the really big sacrifices in life. She implored me to keep taking my own path towards finding a good job, and not to settle for something trivial that I didn’t want to do just for the sake of money. She defended me when that approach was criticized. As I had started climbing the ladder to my own path, she began to see us more as equals rather than mom and son, but she was never above mothering me to the extent that she could. She always wanted to cook for me, she always wanted to make sure that I was sleeping well, and even despite her poor health, she wanted to absorb all of my problems from me just as she had when I was younger. A couple of months ago I’d received a ticket, and because I was driving a car that was in the name of my recently deceased father, I hadn’t yet updated the title, and the officer had told me that the only way they would waive the ticket is if I’d had it all updated by the end of tomorrow. After driving there with her with all the title information, and standing in line for what was something like an hour-and-a-half, they informed us that we’d need to pass the car through a county emissions test before the paperwork could be taken care of. I was flustered and frustrated, and as it was already 4:30, it seemed rather unlikely that I would be able to pull off the three separate trips I’d need to make the next day while still doing my job.
Mom took the car for me, I still don’t know how, and found a place that would pass the test for me. When she needed to be for her kids, she was superhuman. I know when the word hero is mentioned, it conjures up images of men in capes fighting crime and saving entire cities, but if you escape comic books and try to think of what an actual hero would say and do in this modern era, I believe Mom is the kind of person you’d come up with.
Her passing has saddened and shocked a legion of people. She had been diagnosed with bladder cancer just weeks earlier. By the way, don’t let her catch you calling it that. To her, it was a growth, nothing more and nothing less. Despite that, she was in good spirits. She was looking at diets to starve those cells, she was right back to work the next week, and she felt more guilty for inconveniencing the people close to her than she was scared of any of the particulars of her diagnosis. In fact, when I was able to talk to her for the last time, before she slipped into unconsciousness, one of the things she made sure to tell me was that she was sorry. Every day of her life where she had drawn someone away from the rest of their life unwillingly was total agony for her. For that reason, I know she’ll be at peace when we’re all done here, because she’ll finally have stopped being, in her mind, a burden to us.
To paraphrase a couple of writers that I highly admire, the fact that her absence has caused us so much pain is proof alone of the kind of person she was. To feel this kind of sadness over the loss of someone is a blessing, because it shows that for a very long time, we were all lucky to have her in our lives. Feeling this way makes us human, and that humanity in itself is so beautiful that we have to remember how wonderfully alive we all are. I know this sounds illogical, and it may seem like I am compensating for my grief, but ever since she’s died, I feel that if I really listen, I can hear her voice in my head. I know that this won’t be an easy time for anybody, and it’s not an easy premise to accept that someone so great has left us before her time, but remember that she loved every last one of her friends here. Remember that she’ll be looking after everyone who she was close to in some way, and she’s closer to you than you might think. Most of all, remember the way she lived her life. The actions that she took and the way that she went about challenges. Nobody will ever be able to replace her physical presence on this planet, but if we can spread enough good around to compensate for her loss, I know that she will rest easier.
Thank you, Mom.