Thank you all for coming today.
“Never trust a person who doesn’t love animals.” You could trust my mom. Tigey’s here to protect her from the indignity of being paraded out on display. There’s been much written and said about the Five Love Languages, the various ways we express our love for one another. Well I got number six right here. My mother perfected her love language, which was to ALWAYS say exactly what was on her mind even at the risk of offending someone. Must be where we get it. Unlike some of us, though, she had a special way of rarely offending people with her outspokenness. Oh, she may have bruised my ego, got under my skin a lot, but she always made me think.
The point of the that silly book, a book my mother wouldn’t be caught dead reading BTW, I think, I wouldn’t either, is that people should not use the love languages they like the most but rather the love languages that their loved ones could receive
She never gave me or anyone an opinion they were not ready to receive. She was my sword sharpener in chief. Maybe not the mom I might have wanted, but definitely the mom I needed. The mom we all needed. Perhaps it’s not that she became more opinionated with age but that we as her family and friends grew to become better prepared to receive her wisdom.
And What is the secret of how such a crotchety old broad could speak her mind and never offend anyone? when you figure it out let me know. I think it had something to do with the fact that she was never fighting for mine or her interests, but everyone’s. She was a straight shooter who believed in peace but wasn’t afraid of conflict. She made and put this peace sign in her window on September 12, 2001 and found a rock through the same window on the 13th. Yesterday, with respect and dignity, I removed that peace sign from my hero’s window, which had long since been repaired. It will be in my window now, with the permission of my siblings of course.
In what seems at times a dying art, she actually researched the great ideas of our time, steeped herself in literature and science, and grounded her views in a vast life of experience, before laying down her clear, adamant opinions. For instance, If I ever said anything that even hinted of sexism, as all boys do at some point, she would gut me like the pig she would only let me become over her dead body.
We argued about ideas, never stuff, never people. She was never petty; she had no selfish interests or agenda. Zero guile. Just ideas. JUST ideas. If I ever wanted to get a rise out of her, besides mentioning God, I would bring up the definition of art, which she adamantly opposed defining. She could get under my skin with one turn of a phrase, spoken as if right out of a novel, sharp as a fish hook. “Art is about freedom.” “There are no rules.” “What does Yoko Ono know about art?”
She had a sharp tongue, along with a sharp wit, a fierce loyalty, a powerful generosity, and deeply held convictions. She did not suffer fools, lightly or other. In a message left on my phone last Saturday in response to my asking whether I should cancel my daughter’s 8th birthday party to come to Dominic’s funeral, she said simply, in her typical no nonsense tone, “no, the living beat the dead any time.” (Thankfully, it worked out where I was able do both). She was always about the here and now, present and mentally alert, clear in her thinking to her last moment on this Earth, finally free of this amazing and wonderful form I was lucky enough to call my mother.
And to those of you concerned about her mortal soul, please be assured, there’s a special place in our heaven for those without religion, who have the humility, integrity and tenacity to realize that those who fight against dogmatism have more of a connection with God than any of those self-righteous bastards, who blindly follow the paths comfortably forged by others. And if, by chance that place in heaven is the dog house, you can bet she’ll be happier among the dogs than you will ever be at the table of your “feast.” For she experienced love more deeply and with more humility and serenity with her dogs than most of us could ever comprehend on heaven or Earth.
In her last moments alive Mike got her to agree that her faith in science, whose main premise is that everything is ultimately knowable, though we probably will never realize this knowledge, is an admission of faith. So guess what? She going to heaven.
Mom, by your example of rising to any occasion, by not letting me ever get away with being less than my best, by being the one who was always with me when the chips were down, you have done your job as mother: given me the strength to know you will always be here to help me face any adversity with the good sense you have given me. And to those of us gathered in this room and countless others, who’ve had the good fortune to have you in their lives, you will always be with us.
As we pay tribute to Ann Kennedy, I’d like to think she stayed with us long enough to see things through in our family, perhaps even the recent resolution brought about by Dominic embarking on his new journey. I know she was so happy I found the love of my life, Cate. And that Molly found Ron. As to the gift she gave my sister Betsy, by allowing her to make her healing sacrifice and my mom ultimately accepting Betsy’s tremendous love and tireless care these last few months. I think this is majestically beautiful. I also think it’s time for a vacation, Betsy.
We all thank you, mom, and are happy you were able to stick around for so many of the wonderful things happening in the lives of this crazy collection of souls called the Maniscalcos. We will keep you in our hearts for the rest of the journey. We will always love you, mother.