I am back home again and ready to share the eulogy I wrote for my my mom. I shared this honor with my eldest brother and his youngest son, my nephew. I don't yet have a copy of their perfect writings but what I can say is that although we worked individually they fit together perfectly, like a continuous thread.
Welcome. We, Alice’s seven children, 20 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren want to thank you all for coming here to celebrate the beautiful life of our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was so excited when her first, and so far, only, great grandchildren, the twins, were born that she insisted on calling them her greatgreat grandchildren because there were two of them.
Alice Day was born April 15, 1916. This day just so happens to be my birthday as well. A very special day for both of us. She was the youngest of four siblings, all now deceased. Many of their children, my cousins, are here to celebrate with us today.
Alice has loved nature – animals, birds, insects, spiders, plants, flowers, from a very early age. Her first pet was a parrot named Polly, who sang “I’m forever blowing bubbles” and would plead her to “hurry up, hurry up, get to school”. Since then she has had many pets: Felix, Bridget and her seven pups for seven children, Gamma-ray, Pumpkin, and Nally, to name a few.
Over the last few years, she became very attached to a stuffed marmelade cat from Winnipeg that she slept with every night. Puddy was lying close to her heart, adorned with a Liberty of London scarf and a strand of pearls when she died.
This fashionable cat leads us to the next aspect of Mom I wanted to remind you of. Alice was one of the most beautiful, fashionable women I have ever known. She was a bridal model at Eaton’s, where she worked as a sales person. Her first job. Interesting, that when she married our father George Glinski, a Polish engineer, a new immigrant to Canada on October 12th, 1944, because of the war she didn’t get to wear a wedding dress. She later worked at Jaeger and cashmere became her favourite fiber. To this day none of us can remember our dear Mom without thinking of cashmere, pearls and Shalimar perfume.
Her army career ended when she was pregnant with her first child, my one and only brother, Robert George. In the Catholic tradition, the family grew until there were six daughters: Nina, Anne, Helen, Zina, Margaret, and last but never least, Katherine. If you think it might have been hard to keep track of seven children, you wouldn’t be wrong. I was lost twice that I can recall; once at the convent while visiting Nina, and another time in Macy’s department store on a family spring trip to New York City.
Alice was the strong one, as her husband George would readily admit. She cooked, cleaned, and raised a large family with none of the modern amenities we have come to depend upon. She also never drove a car or even rode a bicycle. She was a walker, another gift she imparted to many of us. All her meals were made from scratch and every table was set with care with attention to detail. She made every special occasion a real celebration. “The difference between utility and utility and beauty is the difference between a telephone pole and a spider web.” Her favourite was Christmas, with the wonderful decorated tree, the stockings, the fantastic feast complete with Christmas crackers and plum pudding. In fact, we celebrated in Alice style just over three weeks ago, our first family Christmas in her apartment. Alice dressed in her red cashmere twinset, sitting in her comfy chair. She ate well and nodded off to sleep only to wake up when Barry, Helen’s husband, started playing one of her favourites ‘Jingle Bells’, on the accordion. She sang along with all the gang.
Her family was the most important thing in the world to her. She would bend over backwards to help any of us in any way she could at any time of need. She did so without hesitation. Even last week she said to Nina, “I hope that everyone in my family feels better than I do today.”
Over the past few years it became our turn to show her how much we cared in return. Zina became Mom’s right hand, and I am sure Mom would have never made it to 93 without her unselfish devotion. Thank you Zina.
Last week, Alice’s colon cancer progressed to the point where we all the answered the call to come home. In the words of Charlotte, in the story ‘Charlotte’s Web’, “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life anyway. We’re born, we live a while, we die. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that!”.
The spider’s web has been a persistent thread in all of our lives, beginning with our father George. On Alice’s 90th birthday celebration, we designed a gold pendant for her, with seven arms and a diamond “Alice” in the center, holding it together. Chief Seattle said “Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” When we all joined hands to minister to our mother in her last days, we began to strengthen the strands little by little. We could all feel this. Now, even though the anchor has left this place, the web is held together. This is exactly what Mom would have wanted. She would ask us all “Will I live to be 100?”. A spider lives only a year or two, but webs have been discovered that have existed for 140 million years. Through us, Mom will live many, many more than a hundred years.
I want to end with Alice’s view on what constitutes a “good funeral”. She said that we should all be happy, and afterwards share a few drinks.
I think we all honored our dear beloved mother, grandmother, elder and friend with a secret garden, a warm handmade quilt made by all of her children, her favorite music including What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong and We rise again by the Rankin family and if you look closely at that last photograph you will see smiles just like the one's she requested. Oh and of course we continued the celebration of her life with a fantastic feast and more than a few drinks.
Thanks again for all your warm thoughts and hugs. My family and I really appreciated each and every one of them. I am happy to be home again and will be back very soon with some new posts.