On November 2, 2019, I shared the eulogy below at my Mom's Memorial Service. We celebrated her life well and then laid her to rest at Olinger Chapel Hill. Their team was terrific to work with throughout this period of grief. Check out the nice obituary and memory sharing page they put together for my Mom, including a tribute video to her with 250 photos from her life at this link. For the eulogy, I decided to share my Mom's top 10 traits along with a related memory for each trait. Note that I have abbreviated the eulogy in this written format. I spoke from the heart when giving the actual eulogy, which is not fully captured below. Mom, I hope this eulogy honored you and celebrated your life. We love you. We miss you. Rest in peace.
Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today. It means so much to my Dad, Justin and me to have you all here to celebrate my Mom's life. Thank you to my cousin Jessica for being such a great caregiver for my Mom and Dad these past few years. Thank you to Anna for playing the piano today. Thank you to my beautiful wife and daughters for all of their support of me as I've spent many hours with my Mom and Dad over the past few years. Thank you to Peter for being here today to help take care of my Dad, so that he could join us at this service.
Writing my Mom's eulogy is one of the hardest and one of the most beautiful things I've ever done in my life. The idea came to me of sharing with you all the top 10 traits of my Mom and a related memory. And, yes, my Mom and Dad were David Letterman fans, so I think she'll be okay with me borrowing his top 10 list idea for her eulogy. :)
Before I celebrate the top 10 traits of my Mom, let me first acknowledge this is a day of grief and mourning. My Mom was taken from us far too young at the age of 71 because of Alzheimer's disease. It is a brutal disease that moved rapidly in my Mom over just the past 2 years. Prior to this my Mom was the faithful primary caregiver for my Dad, who has had Parkinson's disease for 7 years now. I do want to share this with you: my Mom was smiley and happy until the very end of her life. Sometimes Alzheimer's can turn people agitated. Fortunately, in my Mom's case, the disease moved her into what I called "happy land." She was always smiling and laughing, when she wasn't sleeping. Her happy countenance was a blessing. Okay, onto the top 10 traits of my Mom as we celebrate her life today.
1. Loving: My Mom loved her family and friends deeply and well. This can best be seen in her marriage to my Dad for 51 years. They were high school sweethearts that met when my Mom was 14 years old in their hometown of Hopewell, Virginia. My parents married in 1968 and then moved to Colorado in the early 1970s to be close to my Mom's sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Barry. My brother and I were both born and raised in the Congress Park neighborhood of Denver. My Mom loved my wife, Marcia, and our daughters so very much, often babysitting for us so she could spend time with her granddaughters. Memory: My Mom baked a cake for every wedding anniversary with my Dad, with the anniversary number prominently displayed on the cake. You saw several of those cakes in the slide show. You also saw so many great photos of my Mom and Dad together. They were always together. This is a season of deep grief for my Dad, losing best friend of 57 years. (married 51 years)
2. Friendly: My Mom made friends literally every where she went! She never met a stranger. Each of you here today is a great example of how my Mom made friends and kept them over the years. It has been humbling to receive so many sympathy cards, emails and phone calls from Mom's friends from over the years. Everyone misses her so very much. Memories: One of my favorite memories growing up was spending each Easter Sunday afternoon at Missy and Trevor's house in Congress Park with so many of my Mom's friends. Many of you are here today. I also remember so many fun Thanksgiving's and 4th of July's at the Goldmuntz home in Manitou Springs - thank you, Barry. And of course my Mom has so many friends in her hometown of Hopewell, Virginia. Thank you, Hopewell!
3. Serving / Energetic: So, I think it is fair to say that my Mom had a lot of energy. :) You all know this very well. She was always working on some project! She was never idle. One of you shared with me just a moment ago that my Mom only liked to sleep 4 hours a night, so that she could get more done in a day. Memory: Mom was always volunteering for a good cause. Celebrating and preserving her Czech-Slovak heritage was one cause she was so passionate about. In 2003 she co-founded the Virginia CzechSlovak Heritage Society with Marie Pearson, which you can learn more about at www.virginiaczechslovak.org.
4. Adventurous: My Mom was always up for an adventure! Often this meant accompanying my Dad on his business trips when he led investor relations at Public Service and Xcel Energy. In a way, it seemed like every day was an adventure for my Mom. She definitely lived by the motto carpe diem. Memories: My Mom loved to travel internationally. Four trips come to mind. First, she joined Marcia in Ethiopia to help her out when we were finalizing our first adoption and had to wait weeks for paperwork to get finalized. Second, she wanted to see Machu Picchu, Peru, so badly and my Dad didn't really want to go. So, she took me. :) It was an awesome trip of a lifetime with my Mom! Third, my Mom traveled to Ecuador to meet up with my brother, Justin, when he was traveling throughout South America. Fourth, she traveled to Czechoslovakia with her sister, Phyllis, to find and meet distant relatives. Mom was always up for an adventure.
5. Creative: My Mom was incredibly creative. She quilted, macramed and designed labyrinths, to name just a few hobbies. Memory: One of my favorite memories of my Mom is the creativity she put into Justin and my birthday parties growing up. I distinctly remember my Mom having a Star Wars themed birthday party for me in the late 70s with an R2-D2 cake and she created light sabers for all of my friends. My Mom was definitely the coolest Mom in Congress Park that year. :)
6. Healthy: Mom was a health nut in the 70s. She fed my brother and me some interesting food when we were growing up. I don't think we had any white sugar until we got invited to another friend's birthday party. :) I should mention that most of the cakes my Mom made for my birthday parties were free of white sugar. They were made out of dates, apricots, raisins, carrots and all natural carob chips. Memory: My Mom was an organic home gardener before it was hip. She created amazing food gardens annually at our home in Congress Park. She was a pro at tilling the soil and keeping birds, bugs and squirrels away. We had some amazing garden fresh vegetables throughout my childhood.
7. Learner: My Mom was always reading, studying or listening to radio shows to learn new things. She was one of the very few women in the early 80s to get a Masters Degree in Computer Science at the University of Denver. I proudly remember going to her graduation ceremony at DU when I was a teenager. Her professor and long time friend, Joel Cohen, shared with me that my Mom was a "super star student." She loved learning and discussing algorithms and FORTRAN language and mathematics. (I had to google search FORTRAN to see what in the world that is...) Joel thought my Mom should get her Ph.D. in Computer Science and become a professor, but she told him she "wanted to make real money" and went to work for IBM. :) Memory: I have wonderful memories of my Mom bringing home gigantic computers in the early 80s that worked off reams of paper and connected to the DU network via its modem and our rotary dial telephone. I had fun communicating with her classmates on that computer as a kid. This was pre-internet and it was awesome!
8. Organized: Mom was super organized throughout her life. This has been helpful in recent years as Jessica and I have helped move my parents from various retirement apartments and communities. My Mom labeled every single box and saved pretty much everything of meaning and value. Memory: My Mom was a genealogist, researching and creating intricate hand drawn family trees before there were internet sites that could help do this. She also created wonderful scrapbooks with titles like "Women of the Family" or "Men of the Family." It is so wonderful to have these family trees and scrapbooks, preserving my Mom's hours of work on our family's genealogies.
9. Left a Legacy: Okay, so I might be biased, but I think my Mom left a great legacy in my brother, Justin, and me. :) She and my Dad were great parents that provided so well for us. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Memories: My Mom leaves with us all an incredible legacy of memories, many of which we saw on the slide show pictures earlier. Thank you so much for all of the memories of my Mom you all have shared on the obituary website, via emails, via sympathy cards and via a Hopewell Facebook group. It was so poignant to read about all of wonderful memories of my Mom. Such an incredible legacy.
10. Spiritual: My Mom was on a spiritual journey throughout her life and I believe it continues for her today. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools in Hopewell. She raised my brother and me Catholic as well, and I attended St. Philomena, Good Shepherd, Blessed Sacrament and Machebeuf Catholic schools. My Dad was raised Episcopalian in Hopewell, and later in life my Mom attended St. John's Cathedral and Christ Episcopal Church with my Dad. Until Alzheimer's took over my Mom's mind, she prayed regularly and kept a diary with her spiritual musings. Memory: One of my favorite early memories was going to 10:30 Catholic Community Church on 11th and Fillmore with my Mom. It was in the 70s and basically was a "hippy" Catholic Church. Everyone had long hair and sang a lot of songs and hymns with acoustic guitars. I loved it. It may be why I'm still such a big fan of acoustic songwriters today, such as David Wilcox.
In closing, I do believe that my Mom is in heaven now. I believe in God. I believe in life after death. I believe she’s watching us right now. I think if there was something Mom might want to say to us as we celebrate her life today, it might be these three short but powerful words: God is good. All the time. Even in the midst of the our grief over the loss of my Mom. God is good.
Thank you all again for being here today. Thank you to Chris Anderson for being our celebrant today. (Learn more about his celebrant services at this link.)
You can read my Dad's Eulogy at this link: My Dad's Eulogy. The Top 10 Traits of Michael Pritchard