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Even after two years, it's strange to remember that I know people who never met my mother.

It's even stranger, somehow, to remember I know people who didn't go to her funeral.

To give you an idea: My mother was a part-time teacher at my high school before she got too sick to work. The administration of the school called a half-day so that any of her students who wanted to could attend her funeral. There were people there who I had never met before. I'd estimate more than a hundred, maybe more than two, maybe more than three. I don't even know. Too many to count.

Half of them were dressed in bright colours, because my mother specifically forbade people from wearing black at her funeral. She was that kind of person. She wanted people to be remembering the good times, celebrating everything she'd given them, instead of mourning her. Well, by their outfits about half the attendees didn't get that memo, but what can you do.

But because the crowd was so all-encompassing, it still surprises me sometimes to look at a good friend and have the thought, "This person never heard the story about me and speeches. This person never saw me read a poem I'd written just half an hour before in front of nearly everyone I'd ever known."

The poem, by the way, is called Forever. A few of the people organizing the funeral asked me to write something for it, so I did, right there on the bench with my mom in a box not twenty feet away. You won't have seen it anywhere, because the notebook I wrote it in is lost; I just spent twenty minutes looking for it, which explains why I'm writing this paragraph in a fit of grand frustration.

Moving on.

(I really don't take anything seriously ever, do I.)

The story about me and speeches is this: I won a short story contest sometime during the '05-'06 school year. Mum was getting sicker by the day at the time; I think she was off work, and I definitely remember that she had some trouble walking around. But, because she was an awesome person, she came with me to the little awards ceremony.

So there I am, in a roomful of a hundred-plus strangers none of whom particularly have any reason to care, and I have to make a speech about my short story.

I hate making speeches, for the record.

As a form of rebellion, and because I was still incredibly touched by Mum coming out to see this, and because I knew it would get her smiling, I made a speech along these lines:

"Hi. I'm Susan. The story I wrote is called Grandaddy's House, and it's about..."

I can't remember what I thought it was about at the time. These things change. At the moment, to me, it's about grief (how appropriate) and childhood and the nature of memory. On the surface, it's about my mother's father's house, until the end, where it's about my mother's father's death. I probably said something very like this last.

"...The thing is, I'm not good at making speeches, and I don't like it very much. And my mother's here. Mum, could you please stand up? That's her, right there. The little cute embarrassed one."

It gets hazy. I've told this story too many times. I think I can remember a sense of nervous wonderment at the fact that I was actually saying this to those hundred-plus strangers, because while I'm the type for harmless rebellions, I tend not to air them in front of large numbers of people I don't know.

"Mum's really not been feeling well at all lately, you see, and she probably shouldn't be out and about, but she came here with me today anyways because she's just that wonderful. So what I'd like you all to do, please, is clap for Mummy. Don't clap for me; she's the one who deserves it. Clap for Mummy."

And they did. A roomful of more than a hundred people, and they all applauded my mother at my word. I walked away from that podium absolutely bubbling over. There's this incredible feeling of power and accomplishment to doing something like that. It's hard to explain, especially so long after the fact (and I haven't felt quite that way since). It was the fact that, just for a moment, just for a minute or two, I had influenced a hundred strangers to do something nice for someone I love. It was a tiny reaffirmation of my faith in humanity. It was beautiful.

After the speeches were all given, when I had a chance to talk to her again, she was just as ecstatic as I had been. She was as touched by my gesture as I was by hers. We hugged. She beamed. I beamed back. She thanked me.

Half-jokingly, in that way that I sometimes do things, I made her a promise.

I said that from that point forward, whenever I was asked to give a speech, I wouldn't talk about whatever subject I was supposed to be addressing. I'd just get up there, in front of however many people. I'd tell them that story. And I'd ask them to clap for Mummy.

The more astute among you will understand where this is headed.

See, I was asked to speak at my mother's funeral.

And that is exactly what I did.

I stood at a podium in front of maybe hundreds of people, some of whom I'd known since I was born, some of whom I'd met once, some of whom I'd never even heard of.

I told them the story of that speech from start to finish, although I think I worded it better and I certainly remembered the details more clearly; it had only been a few months at the time.

Then I finished off with this, which is still a vivid memory for me after more than two years: "So now I'm going to ask you to clap for Mummy." My voice went a little funny, much as it would be doing right now if I were telling this story out loud, and I know there were tears in my eyes when I added: "And you'd damn well better."

The whole room stood up and applauded. What else would you expect? They all knew her. They all knew exactly how kickass she was, and exactly how much she deserved it.

I didn't bubble over. I wasn't ecstatic. You can't really expect ecstatic at a time like that.

But I couldn't stop smiling for what felt like ten minutes straight, even if I was also crying for most of it.

So there you go. That's it, folks. A little piece of personal history for you, out of the blue.

I remember four lines of Forever, by the way. I might as well put them here.

How long is forever?
As long as a moment
This moment stays with us
As long as we want it to last.

Edit, September 5, 2009: I finally tracked down that notebook. Turns out I didn't quite have those lines straight.


( 51 comments — Comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
I'm clapping here, hon.

You have no idea how big I am grinning right now.

I'm kind of crying a little too, but that's okay.

(Deleted comment)
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)

Thank you.

(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lienne - Aug. 20th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lienne - Aug. 20th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)

Aug. 20th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
♥♥♥ *wibbley snuggle*
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:02 pm (UTC)

*cuddles right back*
(no subject) - bending_sickle - Aug. 20th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lienne - Aug. 20th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bending_sickle - Aug. 20th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lienne - Aug. 20th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:40 am (UTC)
oh pyth. *hugs you so much*

I wish I had something intelligent and insightful to say, instead of just "i read this post and now I want to sniffle and clap at the same time, ilu." But, uh, that's it.
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
I think that about covers it. <333
Aug. 20th, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)
You rock.
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)

Thank you.
Aug. 20th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
And now people are looking at me like "what are you crying at, you big nancy boy?"


That was beautiful, hon. I'm sure your notebook will turn up at some point too.
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
I'm betting the notebook's a lost cause, but thank you, nonetheless. <3 *hugs*
Aug. 20th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
That's a beautiful story.

She was lucky to have a daughter like you, I think, and you were lucky to have a mother like her. I am 100% certain you know that, of course, but I am struck by it.

Thank you for sharing it with us.
Aug. 20th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)

Thank you for listening.
Aug. 20th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
*hugs tight*

And now I'm sniffling. Sniffle sniffle. Roommate looking at me funny, but whatever.

*hugs again*
Aug. 20th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)

Aug. 20th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I clapped.
Aug. 20th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)


Thank you. *sniffle* *beam* <333
Aug. 21st, 2008 08:43 am (UTC)
It's no less amazing and beautiful and impressive and inspiring the second time around. <3 <3 <3 *cuddles*
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
*Sniffles and applauds. For Mummy.*
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)

Thank you. :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)


Yeah. She was. I am tempted to do more blog posts on exactly why.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your applause. Even after umpty comments of much the same sentiment, it still makes me grin wildly to myself. ♥
Aug. 23rd, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)


Thank you for sharing. Wish I had something more insightful to add. Too sniffly to think of anything.
Aug. 24th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
*hugs bunches*

Sniffly applause is all I could ever ask for. ♥
Nov. 12th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
Came here from tvtropes. You made me cry, goddammit. *applause, for both your mum and yourself*
Nov. 12th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks. :) It's good to know I touched somebody, you know?

*Internet hugs*
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( 51 comments — Comment )


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