I got quite a few requests for the hard copy of the eulogy from my moms memorial service so i thought i would post it here. I think there will be some follow up posts about her life and the impact she had in my life. I hope this will be therapeutic for me as well as keep her memory alive.
Read April 1, 2016 10am at Friends Congregational Church, College Station, TX.
Dr Wagner, Susan, Mom.
She wore many hats and helped thousands of people. Ive learned much from her but I want to talk about three ways she has had the most impact on my life (besides actually birthing me…).
She hasn’t always been Dr Wagner. In fact the majority of my life she was Mrs. Wagner or Mrs Lowy to her students. She didn’t actually receive her Doctorate until 2008. I know this because she graduated on the same day I did from A&M. In fact, she gave me my diploma, as im pretty sure she did for both of my brothers.
I remember that day vividly. As a doctoral candidate she got to sit in the front row as well as the privilege of receiving her diploma before everyone else. It was discussed and planned ahead of time for us to meet up after the ceremony and go to our graduation party at her house. It was also planned that she would present my diploma when my turn came. Last name Lowy meant I was nestled right in the middle. During the ceremony lots of people would leave after walking the stage and I contemplated the same thing.
Mom has always been a rule follower so I knew she would be waiting for me when it was all over. A couple hours later and bored out of my mind the ceremony ended. I waited; then I went looking. I remember leaving my phone in the car as were the rules for graduation so I had no way of reaching out to her. Finally when the auditorium was empty I decided to make my way to her house and would start the woman hunt from there.
More upset than happy on a day that was a long time coming (7 years) I walked into the backyard and find Dr Wagner relaxing with all my friends working on her second beer.
As I reflect on this story I can pull a couple lessons that most of her students can relate to I’m sure.
Creating Independence is a process.
My entire life I have been encouraged to get out, explore and make my own decisions. There was no hand holding and when bad things happened I had to suffer the consequences. As a teacher Dr Wagner created an environment where you could make your own decisions, learn by doing or failing. She blended that with a rigorous set of rules and standards that she would rarely bend. Trust me, I have been campaigning for you students for years. I mean why do you need to have class the Wednesday afternoon before thanksgiving?!?
Realizing the work she put in over the years to create in her children and her students an ability to think for ourselves, make critical decisions and work within a set of guidelines helps me appreciate her dedication to each and every student she has had.
Just Chill and relax.
Walking into the party that afternoon should have been triumphant, Should have been celebratory and fun. Instead I was upset, tired and ready to eat (Which is usually true for me anyway). Reflecting back on moms face and attitude I realized that there are times to get stressed and worry about things (not too much though) and there are times to relax and chill. Seeing my mom in my memories completely relaxed, enjoying the moment will forever and always help me put my feelings and emotions in check. Stress is ok, but never let it invade your life. Always make time to Just chill and relax.
As a friend Susan possessed the unique ability to listen, help you work though a problem and then be present. One thing I noticed throughout my youth is that her friends and friend activities were consistent. She made the time to have friend connections outside of work and family. From my recollection these friend groups came from Church (right here at friends), walking or swimming groups, and work or family friends. Many of you come from one of those three groups.
Thank you, you enriched her life in a way her family and work never could
Ive been looking at a lot of pictures and family movies lately and one thing is constant. Our Family was together.
Only now as an adult with a family of my own can I start to understand the true scope of what my mom accomplished. Our family was always together.
I remember having dinner every night with the family (usually cooked from scratch), her reading us books every night before bed, Birthday parties for each of us, swim lessons, practices etc…
The last 4 years have helped me realize how important family was to her. Upon the birth of our first child (Davis) my mom showed up on our doorstep. She didn’t have an agenda, didn’t have plans, just wanted to hold Davis. Of course when she wasn’t holding him she was cooking and helping with laundry but what surprised me was her complete commitment to her grand children. I had been out of the house for over 10 year and not once did she show up at my house without a reason. For the next 3 and a half years she would come up regularly and just hang out with the kids. You could see the joy it brought her and how much the kids loved playing with Nana.
Towards the end I asked her how she did it. Three boys, no preschool or nannies, while working part time? She said, “ I just made it work.” This embodies her attitude towards work, family and life. She had the weight of the world on her shoulders, not to mention three young energetic boys to manage and you know what, She made it work.