She had asked me long ago to write this, long before the thought that it would be imminently necessary, amidst practical reminders from her that, of course, one day it would be necessary.
I told her I was honored. That I would write it. And then I filed her request deep in the recesses of my brain, where I thought it could stay for a long, long time.
My children’s grandmother, the woman who was my mother-in-law, passed away on Saturday, 23 September 2017. Today I spoke these words to her family and friends. I share them here today so that my children will know just how much I love their grandmother, so that their father knows just how much I love his mother, so that her family and many friends know just how much I love her.
I take no credit for these words. Her life inspired them, yes, but I don’t remember writing them. One minute the screen was blank. The next minute this. She had a hand in this. They are her words. I am grateful she allowed me to share them.
“Looking around this room today, there is evidence, ample evidence, of a life well-lived.
“Family, friends . . . and friends who in the capacious and loving aura of Mary Farias felt like family.
“Colleagues. Neighbors. Fellow parishioners, of course.
“And acquaintances. The waiter at her favorite restaurant. A cashier at the store down the street. A mother she only just met at the playground.
“Mary Farias truly embodied the notion that a stranger is simply a friend you have yet to meet.
“So, how does one person cultivate such relationships? How does one person extend their reach and hold gently such a wide swath of humanity?
“It’s simple, really.
“She spent time. She made time. She made you feel as though you were worth her time.
“Because you were.
“She wanted to know what you were feeling. How you were. What you were thinking and why you were thinking it.
“And this came from a place of genuine interest. From a desire to connect with you and learn from you.
“You see, in this world where we are running–running here and running there–Mary Farias slowed everything down. Asked you to sit, to stop running. Because she knew this was important. That this was everything.
“Because when you stop running and reach out your hand, open your arms and your heart, you discover our purpose as human beings, why we are here in the first place, why we are here of all the places we could be.
“It is to love.
“Love, to Mary Farias, was a verb. It was action. She was action. Whether she was cooking for you, shopping with you, helping you find what you needed in the library, asking you about your day or telling you about hers, she expressed her love.
“Her love for people. And her love for life. This life.
“She saw life for the gift it is, and she honored that gift by moving through this life with dignity and purpose, her grace and her wit and her beauty surviving under oftentimes extreme pressure.
“This week much of our family’s conversation revolved around what Mary would have wanted.
“When I look out at all of you here today, I would say, “This.” This is exactly what she would have wanted. The people she loved, the people she touched, to be here together, sitting next to one another, holding onto one another and stopping for a brief moment to consider what all this means.
“Thank you all for being here today to honor a woman who was feisty, bold, inquisitive, and in many ways so ahead of her time. A woman who endeavored tirelessly to understand and to be understood, who loved and was loved.
“The legacy of Mary Farias, the legacy she leaves behind is in each one of you. She planted it there . . . possibly without your ever realizing it: Spend time. Listen closely. Hug tightly. Persevere.
“She is in me and she is in you.
And since you know Mary Farias, you know it is truly the only place she ever wanted to be.”