Eulogy for My Mother; Lynne Burns

I cannot put into words the depths of, nor the layers of, what my mother meant to me – what she taught me – and who she was FOR me; for my dad; for my brother; and for all those that loved her – and were loved by her.

I think that when people think of Lynne Burns, one of the first things that comes to mind would be her outgoing nature. Family and friendship was the most important thing to my Mom. She was incredibly loyal. She was “ride or die” before that was an expression. I think she would like that saying, and would probably try to use it, but inevitably, just maybe… use it wrong.

From a very early age the importance of family and friends was apparent to me by how she interacted with – and spoke about Dad, her siblings, friends, parents, and later Connor.

She had a very special relationship especially with her own Mom, Ruby, who meant the world to her. I know how important being a Mom was to her, and how much she wanted to be a Mom, because of THEIR bond. I know Mom had a great example to follow for motherhood because of Ruby – as well as Freda (my Dad’s mom) whom they also shared a special connection.

She put a tremendous amount of value on the relationships that mattered to her, and she truly prioritized making sure that those she cared about KNEW it – more so than anyone else I’ve ever met. She always made an effort with small little gestures (thank you notes, gifts…) that really aren’t so small when you think about it. She was always so kind and thoughtful.

What was so amazing to me about my Mom was that even though she had a large number of deep friendships she was always open for new ones, and more often than not these ‘new’ friendships would grow and blossom into deep, meaningful – and reciprocal connections.

Mom LOVED Anne of Green Gables. Anne with an E; Lynne with an E. Both proud of their bright red hair, and certainly not afraid to speak their mind! My mother was truly a kindred spirit and was so lucky to have so many bosom friends – some of which go back all the way to the third grade. 

She had so many remarkable, lifelong friends: from those early days and High School in Drayton, friendships formed in college – and a friend group that has kept a Christmas tradition alive since their first year teaching together way back in the late 70’s early 80’s.

I learned so much from my Mom. I hope I learned how to be a good friend, how to be a good sibling; and really how to be a good older sibling. I learned from her that when those around you may be going through Hell and you are needed, you be there for them; no questions asked – no matter what. And that is a lifelong duty, and most of all a privilege. I’m proud of her for so many reasons but I think her fierce loyalty and devotion to those close to her is what I’m most proud of.

One of my favourite things about Mom was that she didn’t take herself too seriously. She loved to have a good time, and she could be really silly (and loud). There are countless examples of this – but some of my most treasured memories will always be her antics while playing Wizard (a card game) at Christmas.

When I think about my Mom, I think about two separate wonderful relationships. Growing up she was the best mother: loving, comforting, exceptionally kind and supportive. And also a great baker and cook…

She was also so wonderful to my friends and Connor’s. They were always welcome at our home and she was like a second mom and an aunt to many.

As I moved into adulthood our relationship evolved – all those great qualities still ever present when I needed them, but we developed a great friendship as well. We had a lot in common: our taste in music, movies, books, political views; and on a much deeper level how we viewed the world. Our makeup in how we thought about and analyzed life as well. We could really relate to one another and I leaned on her for advice many times, and it was very special to me when she started to do the same.

Nobody is perfect – but Mom was the perfect mother for me. In those last weeks and days, we said that to one another often. She was the perfect Mom FOR me, and she would tell me Connor and I were the perfect sons for her, and Dad the perfect husband and father for us.

We were like 4 puzzle pieces – not without blemish and jagged edges; that fit together just right.

Mom taught me, and so many others (she was a great teacher, like her mother before her after all) the power of optimism, positivity, and hope. She was so, so strong. I’m so proud to know that she was able to inspire people, and she certainly inspired me – and always will. 

 Something she taught me that I’m extremely grateful for is that you can have the power to will your goals and dreams into existence. You can manifest them – if you only first have the vision, and then second – the drive and determination.

I sometimes think the reason she fought so incredibly hard and bravely for so long was that she had such a wonderful life that she had long ago envisioned: a wonderful marriage and family –and so many amazing relationships and connections with so many of you.

I want to share some advice Mom gave me in a letter when I moved back down to Missouri in 2016. I think everyone can benefit from these words:

Follow your dreams and always do the right thing along the way. Keep your eye on the prize but don’t miss the intermediate, perhaps more important, steps that you have to take to get there. Keep your head on straight but let your heart lead when it needs to balance intellect with emotion. Trust your good judgment and gut instinct to stay the course, especially when the future seems uncertain or the path takes unexpected turns. Always recognize that others have important roles to play but that you are your own best counsel.

In closing, Mom wanted a poem read today. First here are her words:

“I want you to read the Desiderata at whatever gathering is held to celebrate my life. It holds great meaning for me and contains some powerful and universal words of wisdom. I didn’t always live them the way I should have, but I hope to be remembered as having tried the best I could!”

Desiderata    A Poem for a Way of Life― Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune, but do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with god, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

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