Eulogy For My Mother

March 7, 2023

03 / 07 / 2023

EULOGY FOR MY MOTHER

August 7, 1935 – March 3, 2023

My mother, Trijntje (“Tina”), was a good mother and a good person.  

She led with her bigger-than-life personality and lion heart.

I loved her always and love her now.

What I want to say about her is at times not easy.  

The house I grew up in wasn’t an easy place to be a child.  

It equally wasn’t an easy place for my mother.  

My siblings and I left our childhood home, going on to build new lives in new houses for ourselves and our families. Those lives were filled with different details, other than the ones that filled my childhood home. We made new beginnings.  

Although we “got out,” a part of you never gets out — it would be wrong of me to say it wasn’t a walk in the park at 87 Sunset Blvd. You take some things with you. There were painful details that plagued at least me, in my adult years.

Yet our mother, at all times, filled her life with new details. She packed coolers for hot summer days at Picton Beach, the memories of which shine brightly. Crispy cool cucumbers and sandwiches, which today are still my favorite. Running on the beach, laughing in the clear waters with her.

Beautiful cottage vacations on Lake Kashwakamak highlight my memories too. Each summer hiatus was made more fun by games played by candlelight on the screened in porch. The smell of pancakes she cooked over the woodstove. Long walks through lacy forests.

Our mother filled her life and ours with details. These details — a speculaas cookie met koffie tijd, bahmi, her  beloved roses –- will remain forever in my heart like beautiful golden lights in the shadow she leaves with her passing. They were important to her, and to me.

Trijntje will be remembered by many as a force of nature from her inception to her dying day.  Her mother, our Oma, constantly warned my mother to close those striking blue eyes, the blue and white as striking as the porcelain for which her home city was known.  

Despite that, Mom remained true to herself throughout her life. She was not confused about what she wanted or who she was. Once a goal was set in her mind, she committed to achieving it.

Her anger, if you messed up at school, was far more terrifying than whatever the principle could dole out. When her finger came out, that finger pointed straight at you meant you’d best sit up and take note. A lesson was coming your way. Luister is!

My mother was all in, no matter what she did.  

If she was seeking independence as a somewhat defiant teenager, she traveled 14,167 kilometers on the SS Sibajak, from Wilhelminakade, Rotterdam to Perth, Australia as part of the millions strong Dutch migration that took place in 1954.

If she wanted to make a life in another foreign country with her new husband, 2 of the 185,000 Dutch citizens who chose to do so In Canada postwar, she did it despite having to live through often unbearable conditions.  

Her first bed in wintry Canada was spent in nothing more than an uninsulated shack above a drive shed. If she needed the bathroom during the night, good luck because she first had to scrape the ice off the covers and then find the chamber pot. There were a few nights when the honeymoon couple were even forced to sleep in their car.

It was a testament to my mother’s fierce resilience that this Delft born daughter survived emigrating to what was then still a very rural and undeveloped Canada. My mother fought to live and give a better life.

From a mothering perspective Mom didn’t make it easy to love her. She was a child during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, experiencing firsthand the horrors of that time, among these, executions, starvation, bombings and a 9-months-missing father. To be emotional at that time was deemed frivolous.

Her own mother had 13 children in rapid succession. As the third oldest, my mother was made to mother her own siblings when she herself was only a child. I can’t speak for what examples of love she may have received in those days but I believe survival was the only focus, leaving her without much upon which to base her own loving.

It wasn’t until I met my mother where she was, in that place of understanding, that I could fully comprehend the emotional price she often paid within herself. I found my understanding of my mother grew profoundly when I left my own very human expectations of her out of the picture. I needed to see her as her own person.  

In that place I could practice loving her with compassion. Compassion that sharpened my understanding of my mother. I believe Tina needed more love despite her often tough outer façade and I committed to giving that to her.

If you were to ask me what gifts I received from my mother, alongside my tenacity, I could tell you the things you might expect a daughter to say about her mother. 

She was a good mom. 

She and my father provided well for my siblings and I. 

She raised me well. 

She set a powerful example of how to show up in life.

She gave me my life. 

We were connected as mother and daughter but also as widows. My mother understood just how alone a person can feel without their partner having lost her husband, my father, over 30 years ago. Our nearly daily calls were as much me pumping her tires as she pumping up mine. Our chats heralded an often deeply introspective conversation that always left me a better person. Talking with her in those never-to-happen-again moments, felt like I was sitting beside her having coffee although a phone line and a two hour drive separated us.

What she gave me beyond these gifts is a vision for myself I couldn’t see when I needed it most. She gave me the audacity to envision a dream and pursue it. I didn’t become a writer by accident. It was her desire to do better for her children that put the power of the pen and the written word into my hands, a love of which I treasure with all my heart. She, who was learning to speak English as an immigrant, taught me to delight in the written word. 

She was a constant in my chaotic life. She pushed me to look far into the future at the bigger outcomes she was convinced lived in me.

She’s reinforced in me a will to be my greatest self. She whispered to me, in the weeks leading to her passing, that she had given me the best part of herself. At that point she touched her chest and pulled me close and said, “My lion heart. Go out and be the best You yet. If you only knew what you are capable of my girl”

Yes mom, I will. I will do that and take your light with me. Your spirit will live on in me. You nurtured me in life and do the same in death. It strikes me that all life comes to an end — everyone 100% will pass that test. We can be afraid of that but I like to think of the Bhuddist belief that death promises birth.  

As a forest of leaves composts to create new soil, my mother’s stately presence also yields new beginnings. I know when she leaves my side, and I leave hers, I do not do so as a subtracted, less than person. I may shatter for a while. But once the sharp pain of mom’s death has softened some, I will feel her spirit stir in me.  

“Tossee is it coffee time?” was her signature way to ask me to come and sit with her. When I make soup I know the lessons I gained from her as a young child are alive in me yet. She’ll be the warm sun on my face when I sit by the waters edge.  

Mostly I know that the path I take now may be arduous and unknown but I do not walk it alone.  She is with me. All around me. She is in me as I hold her spirit in my soul.

I’m at peace with my mom’s passing. We have agreed on how she will message me from the other side. What would be her particular sign? Many see dimes as a sign from a loved one — my family has a strong history of that from my own husband’s passing.

When I asked her how she would “appear” to me she said, “It will be the sunny side of the street and the color yellow.”  

I asked her why she chose that sign.

She told me it was because that is how she got through life — to always see the sunny side of the street.

Cue Willie Nelson. She loved the song, Sunny Side of the Street.

May the bitterness of regret and painful memories be softly swept away, replaced with a gentle knowing that our mother is in peace, all hurts gone, her body made whole and she welcomed home in eternal peace. 

Tosca

March 2023

 

Tosca Reno

Author, columnist, motivational speaker, reality TV star, radio personality, consultant, mother and wife, Tosca Reno has been inspiring millions with the Eat Clean™️ Diet series and sharing the success she's had with weight loss and Clean Eating.

36 Comments

  1. My condolences Tosca,

    What a beautiful tribute .

    She sounds like she was force to reckon with !:)

  2. This is beautiful!

  3. I too, had a mother with a hard past who could be tough. When you least expected it, she could be loving and understanding. It’s been a lot of years and I’m 80, but I would give anything to talk with her again. Blessings to you and your Mom. You wrote a beautiful and thoughtful eulogy.

  4. My deepest sympathy on the passing of your Mom. Beautifully written tribute.

  5. Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Dear Tosca

    Your words of the life lived resonate with me completely .. as I sit at a restaurant taking a two hour break from being a full time caregiver this past month for my 94 year old mother with dementia … your blog hit my phone:)

    God bless your mama. May her soul Rest In Peace and may you flourish with the strength and angel wings that carry you. Love ❤️ strength, peace & comfort. Irene

  7. Beautifully written Tosca
    A lovely and loving tribute to your one and only Mama Bear
    Big hugs

  8. WOW, Such a Beautiful Tribute to a Beautiful Woman and Life!!! Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts about your wonderful Mother! Blessings to you and your family!! May you ALWAYS SEE the Sunny Side of the Street and See everything YELLOW!! My Heart Goes out to you!!!

  9. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Beautiful and real. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Oh my, what a beautiful tribute. I’m crying now because you touched my heart and invited waves of memories from my own mother’s passing. Thank you

  12. Beautifully written…she will always appear in the smiles and in the colors and the songs. Just beautiful.

  13. beautiful

  14. Having lost my mother last year, your words resonate with me. I am crying as I write these words. I actively took care of my parents in their later years. I am thankful for those years as there was a lot of healing that needed to be done in my heart. When it was time for them to die, I was at peace.

  15. What a beautiful tribute. I’m sorry for your loss.

  16. What a wonderful and loving Eulogy for you wrote for your Mother!

  17. Thank you for sharing about her life and the person she was. I love hearing people’s stories, hardships, healing and redemption.

  18. What a beautiful writing Tosca. How wonderful through your love and personal growth, you see the love and legacy of your mom’s presence.
    May the sun shine brightly on the other side of the street today and tomorrow.

  19. My condolences to you Tosca. Our mothers literally help shape us to be who we are. I lost my aunt this past October, who was my mother’s identical twin and my godmother. She was my second mom.

  20. Tosca, I am Weeping reading this Endearing Tribute. Our Mothers came from the same time and struggles that went along with it. We are Truly Blessed to have had them. My Deepest Affection for your loss.

    ☝️Now I am craving Bahmi ❤️

  21. Hello Tosca,

    Thank you for sharing this with us. God bless you and the memory of your mom at this difficult time.

  22. Sorry for the loss of your mother. I hope it wasn’t sudden. She had a very mixed life. I appreciate you letting us know something about your life. My parents have been gone for over 20 years. The next disappointments will be our siblings, and hopefully not our kids or grandkids. God bless you Tosca.

  23. I’m sorry for your loss. Beautiful tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Deepest sympathies on the passing of your dear Mother. Such a moving and beautiful tribute.

  25. Tosca, you write so brilliantly. What a tribute to your mama.

    Look out for a yellow rose!

  26. This is beautiful, Tosca. My condolences. Her light will be with you always.

  27. Absolutely beautiful, Tosca.
    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your comments of meeting your mom where she was. I think its important for us to reflect and be aware that our parents can’t always be who we want them to be.
    May the Lord/Universe bless you and wrap you in love at this difficult time

  28. Truly a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your Mom.
    Tosca, May yellow shine bright in your world.

  29. Truly a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your Mom.
    Tosca, May yellow shine bright in your world.

  30. Hugs Tosca for you and yr family are in my thoughts and prayers. So beautiful ❤️❤️

  31. What a beautiful eulogy! I send you and your family all my love and warm condolences, it is painful to lose a loved one, and as you say, time will soften the grief. God bless.

  32. Beautiful eulogy for a wonderful lady.

  33. SIncere condolences Tosca to you and the family.
    Such a beautiful,loving tribute to your mom.
    My heart and thoughts are with you at this most difficult time.
    RIP Tina, you did a great job.

  34. Tosca,
    What a truly beautiful eulogy! Wishing you peace and comfort as you reflect on your many beautiful memories and strength in the days ahead. Prayers and love to you and your family.
    With love,
    Sandy

  35. What a beautiful, honest, and vulnerable tribute to your mom, Tosca. It beautiful how you were able to find so much compassion in your heart even though you didn’t get all the love you may have always hoped for from your mom. And, I’m very grateful for you that you were able to benefit from her strengths, making many of them your own. May her beautiful memories with you always be treasured in your heart. Sending you lots of love and my deepest sympathies.

  36. Beautiful words for a Beautiful Soul. Your tribute to her makes me feel as if I knew her. She sounds like she was and still is an Amazing presence. Peace be with you and your family.

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