Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am a motherless child

                                                      Marie Eloise Gomulkiewicz Kemper

                                                      Holding Court on Sacred Ground

My mom has been gone, but not too long.  Today 4/21 is/was her birthday.  She would have been 95 years

 old.  April 21, 1920-August 29, 2012.  A good run.  She was a party girl.  There are things I can say that

could not be said in the eulogy for Marie Eloise (Gomulkiewicz) Kemper.  Pop always said he could never

recognize the person that was in the casket that the preacher was talking about.  It was if death erased all

sins from human memory.  She was human, she had faults.  Sometimes she was catty or down-right mean.

She taught me to always make sure the phone was hung up before she went on a rant. She would beg  for

 forgiveness. She had favorites.  Who doesn't?  The first dirty joke she ever heard not told in the eulogy:

Blind man walks by the fish store every morning.  Same greeting every day, "Good morning girls!"

Some are lucky to escape such flaws.  But she was a lover--she collected heart rocks and friends.  She had

five children and we all turned out okay--perhaps just not the vision she wanted us to see.  There were years

when I would call the family home and she would not say anything in greeting but,  "I'll get your father."  After

I was married to Marieke for  a while, she became friendly.  Marieke and I have no explanation for this

change in behavior towards me; but we enjoyed many years of  greater love.  She  was human.  All of her

flaws don't mean a thing.

 What's in this eulogy does.  It was hilarious to me that she would  ask me to give her eulogy long

before she was dead.

About 10 years ago Mom asked me to give her eulogy but made me promise I wouldn’t

 cry.  I’ll try MOM.

I say to you what many of you have already experienced: We Kemper kids are both

 motherless and fatherless children but we are not here to grieve

for ourselves.  We are here to celebrate our Mother, our friend, such an extraordinary

woman who died at the age of 92.  She passed from this world with little monetary worth

but the legacy of riches she left are here sitting right next to you.  Many friends are

 missing: our Dad, her sister Ann, brother Stan, Grandson Gabriel, Mart Klinger, Dee

 Sullivan, members of the circle guild, Saint Joseph’s banner makers and so many that it

 would fill this church to standing room only.  But we the living are here-Sister Connie,

 Brother Paul, nieces and nephews and many good friends.

Yes she died with few assets but she died the way she lived, the richest woman in the

world-the queen of hearts.  A heart so big it could hold us all.  She had a collection of

 Heart rocks that she found on the beach or anywhere she went, but it could not fill a

 Dump truck compared to the hearts she held in her soul.

My sisters Geni and Lisa, brothers Tom and Steve and their families and mine, I cannot

name you all, it would be longer than an Easter vigil service, but you know who you are,

 look around again, see how she brought us all together to share her love.

How the prettiest girl at McCoy auto company chose our Father to go on a 65 year dance

 of love sometimes baffles me -for they were fire and water.  Maybe the cliché is true:

 opposites attract, but no one could ever deny that our Dad loved her and cared for her

                                                                Pop and Mom

 until his last breath.  His final job was to find a safe home for her to live where she would

 be lovingly taken care of, with some old friends Allah and Sergei Tokorov.

When she was settled in her new home, his last act of taking care of her, he said, “I am

 tired,” and he left her and us.  She would always say, “I miss Pop,” and look lovingly at

his picture: but it didn’t stop her from continuing to live large.  She was taken care of by

an angel, Venice.  She wasted no time in making friends with everyone in her new home,

 including a little old lady, Phyllis-our Mom never ever considered herself old-well I guess

I am 92.

Later as Phyllis lay dying, Venice and Mom sat by her bedside, holding her hands and

 praying because no one should die alone.  She loved everyone and was strong in her faith.

  She grew up in the hands of the Sister of Providence, back when they could still smack

 the back of your hand with a ruler.  Geni graduated high school from the same academy

 and  Tom had the starring role as the little Maestro in his kindergarten play there.

She worked in the shipyards and after the war went to work for McCoy Auto company.

  There her virginal naiveté met our worldly wise Father, a handsome rake, wearing an

 earring from his navy days.  When they were out with friends and someone told an off

 color joke, (I could tell you the first one she ever heard but that is at the reception if you

 are interested) but my Dad would patiently explain the joke to her.

The courtship was guided by the old church, laws of mixed up, oops, I mean mixed

marriages.  I can picture our Pop, a loose Protestant, who even confessed to me that he

had gone to a few holy roller tent revivals for fun. Saying anything to the Priest, signing

anything and agreeing to anything as long as he got that girl.

And then came us-5 children.  Mom and Pop’s rhythm was great on the swing era dance

 floor at Jantzen Beach-not so good  in the bedroom, but all of us were wanted and loved.

  Always she loved and supported our Dad.  When we had little capital to begin the service

 station, she even let him put her beloved piano up for collateral-a piano that Geni and Lisa

 learned to play on and that now her Grandchildren make music on.  She loved music.  She

 always had season tickets to BRAVO that she enjoyed with her good friend Joan.

Ah, the widow years of the service station when Pop would have to work 16 of 24 hours.

She would bring him lunch and dinner and make part runs.  She did everything she could

 so we could survive and the service station thrived.

She felt it was of the utmost importance to dress her children in their Sunday finest for

 church, although having me wear my fine wool pants for baseball practice was a little

over the top.  She had running accounts with Meier and Frank and Nordstroms.  Several

 times our Dad would become exasperated with the balances and he would demand she

 hand over her cards and would make a show of cutting them up.  But oh Mom had a little

naughty in her and as soon as things quieted down she would take one of us for a first

 communion suit or confirmation dress- go to the billing office and say she lost her card.

  She could not let her children want.

We lived in a little 3 bedroom house on 13th street next to the best friends, the Klingers, 3

 boys in one room, 2 girls in the other.  Trying to keep a small house tidy was no small

 feat and when it was not and our rooms were messy she would go on the warpath,

 Chasing us with a switch singing, “the war is on, the war is on,” and we would begin to

Laugh and join in the chant, the war is on, the war is on and then she would say, “wait

 until your father comes home.”

Her capacity to adopt people as her own is testament.  When Marieke so grieved for her

 mother, Mom took her hand and said, “I will be your Mother now” and she did love her

 as a daughter as she did Melanie.  When Melanie’s mother died, feeling so lost, the only

 place she wanted to be was at Mom’s dining room table, getting fussed over along with

 her sisters.

Perhaps that is why she loved her baby Lisa, her favorite, although we were all her

 favorite.  I would always say to her, “you’re favorite son is here,” and she never denied it.

Just kidding.

Defining Heaven                 

What could  you say of hell

One would perhaps brimstone smell

The  chimnea embers danced hot

Butter on the skillet gone forgot

Could it be as they say

A presence never to visit or stay

I know the beauty of today

Heaped up around us lay

Sad never to hear see joy

Being grandparents to a baby girl or boy

                                          She loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren--not all pictured.

Lisa inherited that adoptive nature and gave her 7 beautiful grandchildren that she loved as

 her own.

To all of her grandchildren she was GrandMarie, Yes she was grand, Grant, Tyson, Gabe,

Noel, Alisa, Nicole, Madeline, Joe, Rose, Lily, Joe, Grace, Clare, John and Anthony.

  Remember making valentines and decorating cookies?  The hand made Christmas tree

 skirts and stockings?  She loved children-let the little children come unto me.

When she was semi-comatose the last full day before she died, Alisa brought her youngest

Great granddaughter.  She put the amazing Maisy close to her face and Maisy jibber

Jabbered  and mom came awake like Lazarus.  She opened her eyes, smiled,  tried to

sit up and reach to hold the baby, though we had been with her for hours.   During those

last lucid minutes I kissed her and she said, “ I love you.”

Her language was a language of love.  Though she had forgotten her Polish, when

 neighbor  Miraslavs mother visited from Poland, they communicated as only

grandmothers do.   When Terrie, who loved and helped keep our mother and father in

 their home until it was no longer possible, brought her mother from Ethiopia to visit,

 although they could not speak a word to each other, they communicated with hugs and

 kisses as if they had know each other for years.  No color, but the red hearts of love.

She was a party girl--taught our Dad when unannounced guests arrive to say, “ the more

 the merrier.”  Even though the last month of her life she would say to Geni on one of her

 many sleep-overs, “Why doesn’t the Lord take me to be with Pop”  Lisa added that the

 night before our 27th annual festival, of which she had never missed one. Mom said, “I

 can’t go to heaven until after the party.”  Alas, she couldn’t come but she called 3 times

 to see how the festivities  were going.  She never missed Annie’s  St. Patties Day party

 and Annie continued to be her friend bringing her communion and flowers.

Her cooking was legendary.  Everyone knows about her German chocolate cake that went

for 1000 dollars at the St Joseph’s auction.  She had the flourish of Julia Child when

cooking without the measuring.  She would taste and add a dash of this, a handful of that,

 and OOOH the spaghetti needs more fresh basil.  Her mantra was butter, but I could

never figure out when the 5 of us were at home we only had margarine.  She inspired

Steve to be the gourmet cook that he is.

Oh vanity thy name is Marie.  Can you imagine what person has 70 scarves to choose

from and that was after the number had been pared down by 1/3 when they moved.  She

 was always a stylin lady, up on the latest fashions, pouring over Nordstrom and Nieman

 Marcus catalogs.  When she was in her late 80’s she found a $500, dusty rose purse at

Nordy’s and said, “Oh Gene I have to have it.”  I might add his favorite saying “whatever

 Marie”  Our Father could never say no to the love of his life.

The last few years almost everyday she would be fixed up like she was going out and

 when she did go out Venice or Allah would apply make up and jewelry and a spray of

perfume.  Gerda would come and fix her hair and always bought flowers.  On her 90th

birthday Gerda hired a limo and many of Mom’s friends were waiting inside-they did the


Can I mention all the people that touched her life, the Westgates for years of friendship,

 Norann with all those shopping excursions that she loved best, Mary Natta for bravely

 taking her to lunches even though mobility was a problem.  Linda and Dell for bringing

 their daughter and grandchildren as Mom held court in her wheelchair and as they left

 Joan, Cathy and Fran, with Shaina and me circling around her, adoring fans in the

Sunshine of her last week.  Can I mention you all-loving neighbors, always ready to lend a

 hand,  Mike Klinger honored to play his original composition for her here today, Joe

 Kemper for the picture history of our Mom and the Mckeirnan kids for playing for their

 Grandmother here and at her home for the other members pleasure.

Finally Mom must thank Melanie, who took her to all of her medical appointments, out for

 lunches, was unflagging in her devotion to her mental and physical heath.  And to Tom

 who sacrificed and took her to church and worked hard so many years to manage the

Folks finances.

Mom thanks all of you who shared her LOVE!!!  .

Gin and I Ponder Death                                                           
The time has been well spent.
Did you want to repeat
What you said
Only a little
Was it worth saying at all or
Did you believe it was
A joke then but
Now it makes

There was someone else who believed
Not like a crowded church parking lot
Rows of Japanese maple clones are waiting
To be worshiped like emperor one
She said the words I have been thinking
For a long time maybe 90 years she said
What’s the matter with going to sleep?
We have no promises of smiling reuniting
Memories only that become the recorded word
Of  every brain’s man-consciousness
Saying I have not crushed the hummingbird’s dreams
I have built compost and planted all colored maples
I am happy to go to sleep each night
As long as I was aware the day before
And the day before that
And if I was sleeping while it was light
Forgive me

                                       How Rich

If you are the person

Who must have a clear cut around your home

Then you have not committed to faith and love

You have risked nothing

You have lost even

Where will you spend your whordes

What will you get for it

The time is coming fast

Then it is over

As we have known it

The Omega prophecy is here

Not some ticker board bouncing speculator numbers

Happiness fat gardens friends

All will dwell in love and harmony