Mom



Today would have been my mom's birthday. What follows below is the eulogy from her funeral. Rest in peace Mom, I love you and miss you everyday.

This much goes without saying. Indeed, to describe this moment and the words I must now deliver to you as difficult would be understatement indeed. So forgive me if I falter somewhat while doing so but today I’d like to tell you a little about my Mom.

Rae Catherine Mouton was born on the first of the first 1935. Perhaps the strong featuring of the number one in her birth date was some indication of the manner in which she would come to live her life. She was truly one of a kind. Despite extraordinary adversity, she rose to be a pillar of love and light, often in the midst of utter darkness. Rae began her life in Cape Town, a city she would always have a fondness for. I remember her telling stories of swimming at St. James as a child and about the catholic school she attended there for a short time. Overwhelmingly however I think her childhood was a sad and probably scary time. My mother chose to shield us from the horror of those early years but I know what her own father passed when she was very young and that her life after that was a traumatic and grim time. What I also know for sure, is that it was in these early years that my Mom learned the unconquerable strength that she would later pass on to us. Anyone who knew her, will tell you that my mom was not easily defeated and that the indomitable spirit that lived inside her would never cower in fear. She was bravery personified. She put herself on the line for us all, more times than we can count. She took on tasks and jobs that others shirked away from because she was always found more inside herself to give.  She was in many ways perhaps larger than life in that she was able to mold it by the sheer force of her will. My mom was Strength.

She began to work at age 16, thrust out of school and into the workplace to help support her step family. Perhaps it was here that the first seeds were planted of a life that would be spent in service to others. My mom rose quickly through the ranks in her work. She was always such a neat person, such a perfectionist, a hard worker and an honest person. It is little surprise that she achieved a great deal during her working life, including a crowning achievement of her own hair salon, JoeRae. JoeRae is of course the amalgamation of two names, Rae and Johan -my mom’s devoted husband. They were married on the 23rd of January 1953 and from that day until this amazing lady breathed her last, 57 years later, they were always together unwaveringly. Their love and their bond surely stood the test of time. Moreover, it was the deep love they found in each other which sustained their ability to love others so unselfishly and completely. Their marriage also heralded the end of mom’s working career as they were blessed with 3 wonderful children.  Johann, Amelia and Rae. While our family history has been a very private one and out of respect I’ll keep it that way, it will suffice to say today that she was a wonderful mother and indeed the only mother, my sister Catherin and I ever knew. In all, Rae spent 57 years of her beautiful life raising children. Every success any of us have achieved is nothing more than a tribute to the way she loved us all and gave of her life for us. Truly she offered the bulk of her life to ensuring ours would have every chance of success. I remember when I was in high school, at that difficult age when boys are very hard for their mothers to reach, my mom and I exchanged a short note every single day. She took the time every day to write to me, to guide me through life, offer advice, encourage me, make me feel loved. Nothing was too much ever. My mom was Love.

My mom found a stillness in her later years. All her children had finally grown and she was just beginning to enjoy her life again with Dad and also enjoy her children’s lives and successes. And then so very unexpectedly she died on Wednesday morning last week after suffering a massive stroke that Monday. My mother was fit and healthy. Moreover, there was so much she was looking forward to. The last time I spoke her was on Thursday, the week before she passed. She was excited about the future. My girlfriend, Denise and I were planning to visit her at the end of January and we were going to visit a game farm. She was so excited and proud about the birth of her first great grandchild, Ethan, due to be born to my beautiful sister Catherin and her awesome husband Neal, around the same time. Her and Johann and Santie had spoken about visiting their holiday home in Clarence in the coming weeks... And now we’ll never sit with her again, hold her hand, eat her amazing pot roast, her apple tart or lamb chops, we’ll never talk to her or joke with her again, we’ll never have her fuss over us, we’ll never look into those eyes and feel her love. Today we all feel that loss. We all feel lost.

But today I leave you with these thoughts. When you remember Rae, when you miss her as you will, remember the greatness of the person that she was. Remember that my Mom was Strength. My mom was Love. No finer a lady has come to mean so much to so many people. No other gave of her love and life so freely and fully with such utter selflessness. She was the glue that held our family together through every storm. A mediator, motivator, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend. An anchor for everyone, a rock upon which we all to some extent built our lives. We will all miss her. Forever. But console yourselves in knowing this: The memories of the moments of light she brought into the darkness of this world will remain with us long after this emptiness and sadness have subsided and our tears have someday dried. 

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