New Introspective on Life (tear jerker warning)

I felt compelled to share a speech my husband Joe just delived yesterday at his Mother, Gene’s funeral. I have returned home from the funeral after being moved in a special way by Gene and her whole family. Joe couldn’t have said it any better!  He will be home in a few days and I can’t wait.

He had everyone in church hanging on his every word… laughing…  and crying. I am so proud of Joe for so many reasons. After hearing his delivery of the eulogy, that proud feeling only magnified!

I love you baby…and all the tears I cry are for you and the sadness of your loss. You were so blessed to have a Mother like Gene. I hope you don’t mind me sharing your work with others. I think they will find inspiration in it.

Remembering Mom:

I want to start by telling you that after Mom’s terminal diagnosis on May 13th, she had the opportunity to plan her own funeral.  I only learned of her plan last Saturday, and that she had assigned the role of delivering this remembrance to me.  She didn’t think that I would have 3 days to plot my revenge. J nor that I am the youngest, and may just make up many of my so called memories.

However, many of you here in church today may prefer to remember my Mother as she was,   through her eyes, rather than from my point of view.  So I will attempt to speak to you as if she were on this podium, rather than me.



[Softly] Wow, thank you all for coming.  I never expected this.  I am the luckiest person in the world – I never thought I would have this life. I never thought I would have this family.  [pause]


As I look at you            my children, I see each one of you as a new baby.                     I hold each of you in my arms and I feel a tremendous sense of love, {pause} …and a sense of duty to protect and to nurture you.


Now,               65 years later, my youngest is 49 years old.  I have lived long enough to see one of my children die, which was my greatest sorrow, and I don’t want to have that heartache again.  I can see that my remaining 8 children are just fine, as are my grandchildren & great-grandchildren.             My daily prayers have been answered — none of my kids are in jail.


Now,     I love the company of my children; each is an individual, with their own quirks, bringing something different to the table. You’ve grown to be wonderful adults, and I never want to be a burden to you.

To George: We devoted our lives to our children and family.  I have been a true Conway to you and I am proud of the family we built. The life that we had was far beyond any dreams that I had as a little girl.

To my grandchildren & great-grandchildren: Your youth, vitality and independence helped me stay young beyond my years. …          Thank you

To my brother Denis: You were born when I was not yet 16, and by default, you became the first child I raised           until you were almost 7.  Oh, the sparkle in your eyes that Christmas in Green Bay, when I bought you an electric train set.  Now, I see that my son Dave has since returned that same train set to you in California.  Isn’t that nice. 🙂

To my bridge club:  My friends, my companions, and my connection to adults, in a house filled with children.               My advisors, my fun, my sanity.       In later years, after George was gone, you were almost everything.  I recall the more recent days when we wouldn’t think of skipping bridge club, but now we have to car pool, Lola is driving,      because; I can’t breathe, Lillian can’t walk and Kay can’t see.  What fun? 🙂

And most importantly to my Lord:  I have waited my entire life to meet you.  I had 86 wonderful years on the earth, each of them in preparation to meet you.  I have loved my family, my friends and my earthly relationship with you, and am now ready to be taken into your arms.

On Thursday, May  13th, I was given a diagnosis with only minutes, hours, or a few days to live. Then, I was amazed that all of my children and grandchildren arrived within 48 hours to spend my few remaining days with me.

June McCotter; [pause] You [ARM WAVE] made me chase you down in the driveway, with Maureen in pursuit, because you didn’t want to come in to my house and see a dying woman. Well, after I talked to you in the driveway, I am so happy that you accepted my invitation to come back the next day to share a martini. Thank you June.

And you kids; it seems you’ll never learn? You planned a dinner, the following Saturday, without realizing that I would be still be here;    reigning as the guest of honor [STOP].

[pause]  We stayed up having fun most of the night,   [pause ] and I had to show you that —

An Irish mother like me    can STILL          drink her  children AND grandchildren  under the table at her own LIVING WAKE 🙂

[ Long Pause]


I am not afraid to die, because I am dying of living.  🙂 I have no regrets.  I am excited to be reunited… Kathleen, … George, … and my family members already in heaven.

I am not afraid.

After my living wake in May, I knew that I still had work to do. It took nearly 2 months, with very little sleep, to show you for the last time — that you need to cherish your Catholic faith, you must be patient, always act in kindness, be fun,     be fair,    love deeply,    and laugh. 🙂

I am dying of living,        How cool is that?  🙂


FROM JOE: As her son Joe, I’d like to say, that my mother’s true colors came out over the last 2 months as her body failed her.  From the time she was terminally diagnosed in May, to her death on Friday, Mom lived as I had never seen.  She slept very little and held lengthy, meaningful conversations with each of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Almost to her dying breath, she made jokes, acted silly and taught us how to love completely.

Her last words to me came late Thursday night, after Maureen and I administered another dose of pain killing morphine.   As we comforted her,… Mom said as a mother would to her baby

“there, there.”

Goodbye Mom!

– Joe Conway 7/13/10

3 Responses to “New Introspective on Life (tear jerker warning)”
  1. Michelle Zancanaro says:

    This is truly beautiful!!! I’m so sorry for your and Joe’s loss…but glad that Gene was able to have such a happy life filled with loving family and friends. Having lost both of my parents to cancer in 2003, I know how difficult it is. It’s wonderful that Joe was able to eulogize his mother in such a warm, loving and meaningful way.

    Thank you so much for sharing, Karin.

    Love and hugs to you both,

  2. Mari McAllister-Charles says:

    Tomorrow I will be attending the funeral of a very close friend. Reading this testimony will make an emotional day less challenging. Thank you!

  3. meghan says:

    I now know you in a different way

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