Part of being involved in the community includes the honor of attending funeral and memorial services for community leaders, and local philanthropists. For a brief moment in time, groups of otherwise disconnected people come together in the common bond of a mutual friend.
I have been struck by many things as an onlooker, but mostly by the photographs of these loved ones that are projected on the wall or giant screens as we all sit in reflection before the service begins. I often blur my eyes and imagine what it was like the day the photo was taken, or sometimes I even remember being the one who shot it.
It usually features a younger version of the person being memorialized shown surrounded by family, friends, sometimes wearing funny hats, blowing out candles on birthday cakes, posing next to national monuments, holding babies, hugging graduates or simply enjoying their favorite pastime such as boating, playing cards, or reeling in a big fish. Photos dissolve into another showing a more recent version of the honoree in a most familiar setting, where we have become used to seeing him or her over the years.
The moment that a photo is taken, we do not realize that the only time anyone outside our close circle is going to see it is at the funeral. Now with Facebook and other social media, much of life is captured to share with friends, but the rare collection of shots at the funeral becomes a highlight reel of an intimate roadmap of that person’s unique and special life.
At a recent service of a Foundation supporter and dear friend, the images of her at numerous nonprofit fundraisers and ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and donor walls started to blur together into one big giant festival of a life of giving. She was shown with auctioneers, celebrity masters of ceremonies, at arts events, soup kitchens and homeless camps.
We get to remember all the good times all over again, and wax on about the goals reached and good that was accomplished. And when the service is all over, we leave, and go on about our day. Sure we miss our friend and colleague and wonder how weird it is going to be to not get the phone calls or see her at the next concert or fundraiser.
But if not for the poignant words of her son at the closing of the service, we would have all left our seats, said our good-byes forgetting, or remembering only as an afterthought, that above everything else, she was somebody’s precious and beloved mother and grandmother.
So this Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate women who take a place in history not for their great achievements, but for nurturing and loving their families first.
Please send us a picture, or post a photo and tribute to a special mother in your life on our Facebook page or send us a tweet @SWFLCFnd and use #RememberingMomSWFL