I'm pasting below the thank you note I did, months after my mom's death. My mom touched so many lives that they had to open the next room up at her funeral. I did not want to go through this process as I'm told I should. Instead, I did a "letter" to everyone, which I am sharing below (by the way, her name was "Holly" and I printed it on paper bordered in holly leaves).
A UNIQUE “THANK YOU” – FROM HOLLY AND HER FAMILY
To all of you who have held us up through this tremendous grief, since losing my beautiful mother on January 27, 2012 – we all thank you so much. Your cards, gifts, flowers, food, phone calls and companionship have meant the world to us.
I’ve put off sending thank you notes for many reasons. One primary excuse is that I am still grieving the loss of my mom, my best friend, and sitting down to write everyone (though I know my mom would have found the strength – she never failed when it came to doing the right thing) just seemed like an impossible task. But the main reason I postponed thank you notes is that I wanted them to be unique and beautiful, just like her. A typical card didn’t feel right – so I waited for mom’s guidance on what to do.
As it turned out, one morning I woke up and it hit me – mom’s own words in her journals can be her gift to all of us. While going through some of mom’s personal belongings, her journals appeared. There were about 8 of them, spanning the last 30 years. I had to immediately laugh because none of them were ever completed, but each one started with “I’m really going to try to stick to writing in this NEW journal every day.” Then after 1/3 of the book was written in, she stopped, only to try again 5 years later.
The following paragraphs are a summary of the life lessons from mom that I pulled out of these journals. It is my hope that this gift to you, from my mom, will touch your life in some positive way.
Mom’s journals were always optimistic and honest. They weren’t full of hidden, dark secrets nor were they full of anger, complaining or venting at how unfair life could be. They were 100% Holly – loving, thankful, concerned for others, happy, silly and spiritual.
Though I could never sum up everything written in these diaries, after reading every page of every book it didn’t take long to find the theme for this thank you note (including the “Holly” stationery I ordered for this thank you letter, which was such a mom thing to do…taking time to find the “perfect” card or note to send to others). Whether written in 1981 or 2008, even after losing parents, friends, family members and experiencing hardships, she never lost sight of what matters most in life – giving and receiving love. Any time she suffered a loss she gave thanks for having had that person in her life – not anger that they were gone.
We are all imperfect human beings, and mom openly admitted her faults and weaknesses in this physical world. But she also knew something many of us don’t – that in the big picture, those “little things” don’t matter one bit. Mom didn’t care about technology, learning new tricks, keeping up with the Joneses or the latest “organize your closet” gadget. All that mattered, all she devoted her time on this earth to, was surrounding herself with friends and family – and giving to others. As I mentioned at her funeral, she even donated to just about every cause you can imagine.
Mom also lived each day as if it were her last. Even if she was in bed with the flu, if someone came over unannounced, she would get up and sit at the table and visit with him or her. She could be taking a nice nap on the couch but if the phone rang, she never let voicemail pick it up and would answer it while groggy. She never forgot a birthday or anniversary, sent cards and gifts to celebrate weddings or births and would attend wakes and funerals to support a friend or co-worker. These kind gestures weren’t just for best friends and immediate family – she acknowledged milestones in anyone’s life who she had contact with.
She never hated anyone – even those who treated her unkind. She cringed at the word “hate.” Instead, she would pray for peace, strength and hope that the relationship would heal someday.
Mom was religious but also spiritual – she didn’t just “talk the talk.” Her journals are full of giving thanks for every blessing, life experience, friend and family member. She was so grateful for everything and everyone. Her journals were “exhausting” to read at times, mentioning going here to celebrate a friend’s anniversary, calling a friend in need when she got home, then having neighbors over “just because.” Every day she connected with someone in some way – that was all that mattered to her.
ON THE BACK SIDE OF THIS LETTER is a direct quote from her journal that I wanted to share, in closing. Again, thank you all for everything and please - keep mom in your hearts, because that is where she wants to be - always. Love, George, Robin, Jim, Cheyenne and Family (OVER>>>>>>>>)
Mom’s Journal Entry – January 12, 2000
Mom was giving thanks for witnessing “a new century being born” when she wrote these following words at the end of the entry……
“In closing, what a special event to be able to see. I’m 54 years old as I write this and I thank God for every blessing he has bestowed upon me. For guiding me in the right direction during turmoils, for blessing me with family and friends, for health and for every blessing he gives me each day. We may not be the “Trumps” but I love George and my family the very most, and everything else will fall into place.”