The Coastal Star

Tom Collins’ Eulogy for his mom, Susan Clara Nivens

 

First, on behalf of my mom, thank you all so much for coming. You all meant a lot to her.

 

We’re all here to remember and celebrate the life of a great woman. A woman who had a passion for duckpin bowling. A woman who enjoyed pina coladas. A woman who really dug Elvis Presley. And a woman who made a mean meatloaf.

 

But what we all think of first when we think of my mom is her kind spirit, which I think is best reflected in a few stories.

 

When I started working as a newspaper reporter, I would often send her articles I had written. She had kept them all, I found out later. But at the time, I often wondered whether she really read them or whether she sometimes got bored with them. After all, how many stories about a city council could one person stand?

 

Eventually, my mom started keeping up with my articles on the Web. One day, I was on the phone with her and she said, “You haven’t written much lately. Why not?” And I said, “I’ve been writing! I’ve written like four articles this week!” And she said, “Yeah, but they were all really short!”

 

My mom had not only enjoyed reading stuff I’d written. She wanted more — not because she was interested in the petty politics or the monotonous court cases. Just because they were written by her son.

 

She lived for me and my brother. And for her family. Always providing for us and trying to steer us in the right direction.

 

Sometimes, though, her lessons were not entirely truthful.

 

My niece, Amanda, loves watermelon, just like my mom. And the two of them would often share one on hot summer nights.

Amanda, though, sometimes wasn’t careful about not eating the seeds. So my mom would tell her, “Amanda, if you eat the seeds, a watermelon’s gonna grow in your stomach!”

 

Her older brother Daniel would try to tell Amanda, on the sly, that no such thing would happen to her. But she thought Daniel was just trying to trick her into having a watermelon grow in her belly, and would not believe him.

 

Amanda knew my mom was her protector. And she was going to side with her. And Amanda never did choke on a watermelon seed.

 

Protecting. Giving. It’s what my mom did. She did not have much. But she still found a way to give and give.

 

As my mom’s health worsened and she became forgetful, she managed to keep on giving.

 

After I was engaged in early 2009 to my wife Jen, I was eager to have my mom at the wedding and dance with her to “Love Me Tender.” We did. Her health declined a short time later. But she had given me my dance.

 

But I still needed more time with her. I knew we would be having a baby. And I wanted desperately for my mom to see her new grandchild. But I thought that was unthinkable.

 

Again, though, my mom stayed strong. And in March, my wife gave birth to our son Quinn and my mom got to meet him. And see the little chunker balloon to 23 pounds.

 

I have to think that my mom was holding on long enough to share these milestones with me. These were two final, wonderful gifts.

 

I hope that my mom leaves us all with more than memories. I hope she leaves us with a model to follow. It is a high standard and one that I often find it hard to match.

 

She did not judge. She accepted. She did not complain. She worked. She did not resent. She loved. She did not take. She gave.

 

Thanks, Mom. For everything. I love you. We all love you.

 

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