Saying goodbye to one’s mother is one of the hardest things many of us ever go through. One thing families often find helps is telling Mom’s story: putting her life into words, to be preserved and cherished for the ages.
Here at Legacy, we’re frequently touched to encounter beautiful, lovingly detailed obituaries in which a mother’s children have conjured her spirit on the page. This Mother’s Day, we’re honoring that love by sharing three recent obituaries we’ve seen for unforgettable mothers — mothers whose families have blessed us all by honoring and celebrating their life stories.
Bernice Black of Pennsylvania “grew up in the shadow of World War II and came of age in the era of historic civil rights legislation…. She was an excellent, enthusiastic student participating in theatrical and literary pursuits. She loved going to the movies, especially musicals, acting in plays, and spending time with friends, her cousin, and her younger siblings. It was her dream to go to Howard University, where she received a partial scholarship, but she settled for a less expensive local institution. Like many women of her generation, Bernice’s education was interrupted, in this case temporarily, by marriage and children. In 1960 at a party full of poets, writers and radicals, Bernice was introduced to John Black… who had emigrated to the United States from Berlin, Germany. Within one week they were engaged.”
While Bernice “adeptly balanced the demands of family, school, and work,” she taught her children the lessons she learned as a young person: “She was intensely devoted to her husband and children and showered oceans of love upon them. Bernice was gentle, yet make no mistake she could be fierce and formidable in the face of injustice. Sweet, yet fierce, she was a champion of the underdog: the tricked and evicted, the hungry and homeless, those brutalized by police and terrorized by government. She marched, she chanted, she sang songs of freedom, and raised her children to exalt justice and reject inequality.” Read Bernice’s full obituary here.
Claire Ulam Weiner‘s obituary tells how she spent her childhood in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where her physicist father worked on the Manhattan Project. “She grew up surrounded by the great minds of the Nuclear Age, and their eccentricity and brilliance infused her own. She developed a voracious appetite for insights and information — whether consumed in one of the many newspapers and websites and newsletters she read daily, or untraditionally, from her love of mystery stories. Everywhere she went in the world, her first steps were to procure the local paper and to buy a mystery that was set there.”
Later, she became a mom known for her good company and good advice: “Even as a teenager, the person I always wanted to talk to most at a party was my mother…. She was a truly original thinker. ‘Wanna make a bet?’ she would ask, when confronting a more conventional view. She was mostly right, always ahead of her time. She was led by her extraordinary intuition, an ability to know and understand people that was sometimes disconcerting to be on the other end of, as it was often coupled with unfiltered guidance. ‘Ask Claire Five Dollars’ was a refrain that echoed in our household, and she would always answer — thoughtfully, honestly, kindly, helpfully. Growing up, my friends would frequently seek her out for counsel, and she would invariably keep their secrets. As I transitioned from daughterhood to motherhood, and she to grandmotherhood, she became counsel of a deeper sort. This is particularly precious now; if she cannot be here with her grandchildren I can at least impart her influence.” Read Claire’s full obituary here.
Evelyn N. Hudson Green of Trenton, New Jersey, is remembered in her obituary as a devoted teacher: “Evelyn developed close bonds with her students. Some of her happiest moments were when she saw former pupils in the community and talked about what they had been doing since leaving her classroom. Evelyn’s love of teaching extended to helping college students prepare to teach. She also mentored new teachers. Evelyn was a strong believer in the fundamentals — reading, writing, and arithmetic, but she would not miss an opportunity to explain the importance of voting or ‘putting your best foot forward.’”
And she was just as dedicated when it came to bringing up her own children. “Throughout their 30 years of marriage, Evelyn and husband Herman Owen Green raised five children in their home on West State Street…. They were ‘hands-on, sleeves rolled up’ parents with each of their children–available for all the happy times and not so happy times…. She had an adventurous spirit, a quick wit, and a questioning mind… and enjoyed listening to and telling funny stories. Evelyn lived a healthy, fit lifestyle. A lesson passed down from her mother, she was adamant about healthy eating habits for her family; however, she also made the best fried chicken, grits, potato salad, and pork roll.” Read Evelyn’s full obituary here.