Thursday, August 10, 2006

Marie Josephine Keim, 1917-2006

Here is the eulogy I will give tomorrow:

Marie. Mom. Grandma. Mrs. Keim. We knew her by these names and others. If life were a book, we each might give this name-title a subtitle of our own:

- Mother of Five
- Grandma in the Garden
- Baking Beans and Bread
- Poet and Friend
- Maker of Rosaries
- Lover of God

Too often we pick up a book to enjoy, but set it aside after a chapter or two. The book of Marie's life has many chapters, and I am still enjoying the last one. It is rich with the convergence of her values, her friends and family here today, and the memories recalled.

I was lucky enough to visit and picnic with Mom when we traveled from Minnesota last month.

As usual, Mom said, "Maybe the next time you see me it will be at a funeral."

And I responded as I always do when she says that: "Mom, you've been saying that for 20 years, and your still as strong as a horse." (Whenever she grabbed my hand, or gave me a hug, I'd have to warn her against breaking any bones, my bones.) And yet each time she said that in recent years, I knew that day would come. And I really felt it more in early July. I didn't add to my statement, as I had in the past: "You will probably outlive us all."

When I close the covers of a book I've enjoyed, or one I've learned from, or have been inspired by, it is not with sadness, but with fulfillment in the gifts of Light and Love and Wisdom received.

Marie has left us for now, and moved on to a new level of freedom. The book may be on a higher shelf, but when we need to be refreshed by a favorite passage from the pages Marie has shared with us, we recall the Light and Love and richness that is this Soul.

Among the chapters we may choose from could be:

- A Bowl of Hot Soup
- Poetry of the Natural and Supernatural, or
- Singing with Birds & Talking to God. Or maybe
- St. Matthew's Church Bazaar

Too often at a loved one's passing we realize there are things we meant to do with them or for them, things we would say, or questions to ask. Yet the pace and priorities of life pre-empt completion of so much these days. How do we reclaim what could have been? What should have been?

I invite you to review your memories of Marie. You can go there now, in imagination, in contemplation, just as she is with us now in spirit.

Walk with her in the flower garden. Sit at her table with a cup of coffee or herb tea. Butter the bread. And listen. She may also have a message for you. Experience the sound, scent, the taste of this moment. See the light in her eyes. Tell her what you didn't get a chance to. Or just thank her for the gifts she has offered.

I know she would say (I can hear it now): "God grew the flowers, not me." Or "I just baked the bread. I didn't make the wheat."

Okay, then. Thank you, God, for Marie.

I'd like to close now by reading from her book of poetry, Out of the Blue.

Where Poets Grow

I like to spade and rake and hoe
And plant some seeds and watch them grow.
I know, of course, that it is God,
Who brings from seed to full grown pod.
One corn kernel to full-grown ear
Gives food and seed for coming year.
He forms the tubers underneath
Potatoe vines and carrots, beets.
He molds the melons on the vine
And gives us grapes for food and wine.
To trees He gives their strength and height
Loads them with fruit for our delight.
Countless flowers he brings to bloom
Enhances them with sweet perfume.
Into the garden I love to go.
I think that's where poets grow.

Mom, enjoy your new garden. We also cherish the fruits and flowers that inspire the writing of our lives. We cherish our memories with you.


  1. Just wanted to say beforehand, I appreaciate your thoughts and comments on this occasion. But I do not concider Mom's "death" a loss. Read the eulogy -- she is still with us. Only the body dies. This is a very rich time of life with the memories and recognition of Mom's life.

  2. Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful woman, and that is a wonderful eulogy. Wishing you the best at this time.

  3. Dear Ardi,

    You found a very powerful way to celebrate everything beautiful about your wonderful mother.



  4. Thank you Aurora & Natalia. There are many blessings as we witness our loved ones pass on to a higher life.

  5. Sincerely sorry about your loss. Absolutely lovely. Very touching. Reminds us all what it is to love.

  6. Such a beautiful eulogy. Where poets grow: She planted you well!

  7. Thank you for allowing us to see your beloved mother through you ..I was touched

  8. Very beautiful! What a wonderful mother!