Over the next few days I am going to post in parts the eulogy given for Mom at her Vigil.
EULOGY FOR MOM, September 15th, Our Lady of Sorrows
It is simply a great privilege for me tonight to be able to represent my brothers and sisters in giving tribute to our mom. Before I begin talking about Mom, the children of the Westhoff family wish to thank each of you for being here. We thank our family friend Father Riley for changing his schedule to lead us in prayer and for all he did for Mom through these latter years: anointings, home Masses and giving Mom Holy Viaticum two days before she died. We thank Fr. Carlos for being with us tonight and are very blessed that he will be saying Mom's Requiem Mass. We recognize and thank those who have traveled a long way: our Aunt Martha and eight of our cousins from Houston, Texas, (Greg, Joan, Barbara and Debbie; Lucien, Sherrie, Tom and Rita) Ruth Mcaa and Jane Pennefather from Manassas, Virginia; our cousin Linda who is on her way from Montana. I also want to thank the maker of Mom's coffin, Marcus Daly, who was going to be here but at the last minute could not. He is from Seattle, so it's probably just as well he didn't come because he's a Seahawk fan…but he makes good coffins.
So you can see that people have come from the East Coast, almost from the West Coast and from the Gulf Coast to pay tribute to the unassuming farm housewife from the countryside somewhere near Wiggins, Colorado.
Now to Mom. The ideal eulogy, as our sister Kath sees it, should evoke some laughter, some tears. Simple enough, all we need to do here in talking about Mom is produce an emotional roller coaster. But really, Mom had no affection for roller coasters, but she did love trains. So let's make this a gentler ride through Mom's life – a train ride of sorts. There's no guarantee of laughter or of tears, but I hope you enjoy the ride nonetheless.
Even before the train leaves the station to travel through Mom's life, we are confronted with deep sorrow because our mom was born into a family that had already faced great tragedy. Mom's parents, Lucien and Irene Harris and their first two children, Miles and Malo, were struck with the flu in 1920. Here's what a newspaper subsequently reported:
From the Fort Collins Express-Courier, January, 1920. The death announcement of Mom's brother Malo.
The six month old son of Mr. and Mrs. Lucien Harris who reside in Denver has died as a result of an attack of influenza. The parents and their other son Miles are also confined to their beds with the disease. Lucien Harris is the son of former Mayor [Jesse] Harris of this city.
From an edition of the same newspaper one week later, January 1920. The death announcement of Mom's brother Miles.
A telegram was received in this city Friday morning announcing the death in Denver of Miles Harris, the only remaining child of Lucien Harris, son of ex-Mayor Harris of Fort Collins. The death of little Malo, the younger Harris boy, occurred in the end part of last week, and now the brother has been taken away. The influenza epidemic raging in Denver was the cause of the loss of the two boys. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harris have been confined to their beds. This double affliction is a blow to the parents from which it will be hard to recover. In their hour of trail, the sympathy of their Fort Collins friends is extended to them.
And now from another edition of the same newspaper, eleven months later just fore Christmas 1920: Mom's birth announcement.
The most wonderful Christmas gift in all the world was brought Wednesday to the family of Mrs. Jesse Harris, for early on that morning an angel brought to Mr. and Mrs. Lucien M. Harris of 555 Corona Street, Denver, a beautiful little daughter, who will help fill the place in the hearts of the Harris family so sadly left vacant last winter when the two lovely sons of Mr. and Mrs. Lucien Harris were called to their heavenly home. The touch of tiny fingers will heal the bleeding hearts and bring a wealth of Christmas joy to the household. The little one came Wednesday morning around 8 o'clock.