Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tyler's Funeral Talk

Remembering Mom
Ever since I can remember I was told that I had the looks of my Dad and the disposition of my mom.  I can’t think of a better compliment than to have my actions remind people of my sweet Mom and according to Carol my Dad nails the salt and pepper look, so really it’s a win-win.

Growing up it wasn’t uncommon to heart the words... “Remember who you are and what you represent.” Almost like clockwork, before we would leave for practice, for school, or for a party, my parents would offer this phrase as a subtle reminder that how we acted and how we behaved would be reflective of the family name.

Just a few Christmases ago, my parents bought us all sweatshirts and on the front is the acronym RWYAAWYR. Remember who you are and what you represent. On the back was our nickname and birth order in the family.  That number now goes up to 19 and soon to be 20. Mom was #1 not only because she was the oldest, something my Dad liked to point out, but because she was the one that set the example of who we wanted to be.

So today as we honor my sweet Mom, I hope to share with you the many things that she was and what she represented.

Mom is a Dancer. My mom received her dancing skills from her dad. At our wedding, my Grandpa Adams and her stole the show. Grandpa’s nickname should’ve been smooth operator as he could glide across the dance floor with ease. My Mom inherited those skills. Most Saturdays growing up started with my Dad blaring Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride as loud as he could as he tried to wake up the crew. My mom was usually bright eyed and dressed for the day, already cutting a rug in the family room. I still remember being fascinated when I was a young boy, as she and Brandon would swing dance across the room. I have never been an early riser, but its hard not to be happy when you wake up to Mom dancing and singing… “I don’t think your ready for this jelly, I don’t think your ready for this jelly.”

Mom is Stylish. We would always joke that Mom was like a fine wine and that she got better looking with age.  In high school I was supposed to walk across the gym, escorted by someone of my choosing. I asked Mom to walk with me that day. After the assembly many of my friends noted how beautiful my mom was. At the time, I thought it was gross, but now that I’m older I can’t blame them. She truly is beautiful both inside and out.

Mom is Talented. She loved to be outdoors. She could snow ski, water ski, and bowl with the best of them. She made Girls State and was a cheerleader in High School. In college she was a gymnast and also taught business classes to unwed mothers.  She knows short hand and taught seminary to the youth in our church for many years. Amongst the siblings her typing skills are legendary. I can remember many late nights with her hunched by the computer, feverishly typing as I dictated my paper that was due the next morning.  She’s the one who taught me the meaning of the phrase…”show me don’t tell me.” It was during those late nights that she showed me that she was fully invested in me, no matter what I did and no matter how big or small it was, I was important to her.

Mom is Thoughtful.  Growing up our days started earlier than most other families. During the school year we would go to seminary to study the scriptures and learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This entailed getting up at 5AM, Monday thru Friday. I cant remember a single day that she didn’t wake up at 5, make breakfast, make our lunch, give us a kiss and wish us well as we started a new day. I’m one of five children. I did the math. That’s 3,060 days that she woke up at 5AM not because she had to, but because she wanted to. Among my fondest memories of those mornings  are the many that she would turn the shower on for me and wake me up to get ready. I would usually come back to my room to find her asleep under my covers.  Again, I’m not a morning person, so naturally, I would silently slip into bed and fall back asleep only to wake up a few hours later to Mom’s startled cry. “Tyler! Why didn’t you wake me up?!” To which we would laugh and proceed to get ready for the day. 

Mom is a Friend. Shortly after her accident we did our best to communicate to all our family and friends what had happened. Carol made the comment, “How to you tell thousands of people that there best friend was just severely injured?”  Everyone Mom came into contact with felt like they were her best friends, probably because she treated them that way. Growing up, family seemed to increase in size every year. One year I remember a sweet, slightly feisty, Hungarian lady named Barbara showed up at our door. Barbara was soon attending birthdays, holidays, and even vacation cruises to the Caribbean. We never thought twice, Mom embraced her, so we did too. Mom never cared about if we had enough food or enough seats at the table, she was only concerned with who needed to feel loved and who needed to be there. It didn’t matter if there were 10, 20, or just one person, she was a friend to all.

Mom is Loving. Above all, she loved everyone around her. Not only did she show her love with her actions, but also she was a master at hiding hand written notes to my Dad and my siblings for us to find. All the way up to my senior year I would receive hand written notes from my Mom, telling me that she loves me and wishing me good luck on a test or a big game. My friends would shake their heads as a 6’5”, 18 year old dumped his lunch sack out onto the cafeteria table only to see Hershey kisses and a love note fall out.  What I would give for another note telling me she loves me.

A little over three years ago Carol and I decided to move back to Chicago. We were nervous and excited to start a new job and be so close to my parents. The single greatest blessing over the last three years has been living so close to Mom. Carol, Donovan and Lincoln were her new best friends. They went to every petting zoo, museum, party, sporting event, concert that they could find. And celebrated every holiday to the fullest.  Halloween soon became a week-long celebration and Christmas was no two weeks long. They often cried when it came time to come home, begging to stay longer with Grandma and Grandpa. How grateful I am to live so close for these last three years. Something my boys and Carol will never forget.

Shortly after Mom’s passing, Carol and I decided we would tell Donovan and Lincoln that Grandma Sherrie was no longer with us. After fumbling over our words and struggling on how best to break the news Donovan finally said, “Its ok, she’s an angel now.” Yes, Donovan she is. She was an angel to us all for 56 years and now she is an angel to those who have passed on before us. There is no doubt in my mind that she is doing now what she did her entire life. Listening, serving, and loving.  My sweet Mom never forgot who she was or what she represented. She treated everyone as Son or Daughter of our Heavenly Father. As we learn from the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future, it is my prayer that we too, like my mom, will remember who we are and what we represent.
I testify to you that we will see my sweet Mom and  all the others that have passed on before us , thanks to the perfect plan of our Heavenly Father and the sacrifice and resurrection of his only  begotten Son…Families can be together forever.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Todd's Funeral Talk

For any of you who were unable to attend Mom's funeral, I've posted the talk I gave below.  As I re-read my talk before posting, I am once again reminded of just how much I love her.  She's one of the great ones, and I cannot wait to see her again.  I love you mom!

Over the past 3 days, I have spent much time thinking about how I might share my feelings about my mother—how I might communicate just how special she was.  And as the memories come rushing back, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it is impossible to do so.  56 years of near perfection cannot be expressed in such a short amount of time.  It is my prayer, however, that I might do so, even in small part­—that we may celebrate the life of one of the great ones, and leave here today with a resolve to be a little better.

In the New Testament, we learn from the Savior the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor.  I know of no other person, who did this better than my mom.

For as long as I can remember, I have known that my mother loved me.  It was never a question.  As a child, my mom and I had a very specific nightly routine.  In those days, Tyler and I shared a bunk bed, with me on the top.  Every night, mom would climb up onto the top bunk, scratch my back for a few minutes, and then hold my hand with our fingers interlocked until I fell asleep.  As I got older, the ways in which I saw her love for me continued to grow.  Whether it was an “I love you” written on the napkin in my lunch or bringing homework to school that I had forgotten, the list is seemingly never-ending.  In fact, even after I had gone off for college, my mom, without fail, would send me a Valentine’s Day present each year, along with a card, telling me how important I was to her.  I cannot express how much that meant to me, knowing that no matter what happened, I had a mother at home who loved me unconditionally. 

My mom’s love for her children is so great that she once insisted to Tyler and I, that none of her children had ever gone though an awkward phase.  As those of you who saw the slideshow of photos before the service can attest, that is clearly not the case.  As such, there are only two possible explanations for her insistence: either she successfully suppressed all memory of Brandon ever having a flat top, or, more likely, she loved her kids so much that she only saw the best in each one of us.

This love was not limited to her family.  As astonishing as this large crowd is, I have to say, I am not surprised.  I’m sure there are over a dozen people in this room who consider her their best friend. Just yesterday, we received a Facebook message from a girl who was our neighbor back when we lived in Libertyville the first time.  In her note, she told about how when she very young, about 4 years old, she can still remember going over to our house and playing with my mom.  In fact, this little girl loved my mom so much that she named her teddy bear, which she still has to this day, Sherrie.   Everyone loved my mom because she loved them.  One of the most amazing things about my mom is that I have literally never heard one person utter a negative word about my mother and I don’t think that that’s coincidence.  She was simply that great.

Because of this love, even her blunders were the cutest, funniest things of you’ve ever seen.
Once, late at night, my mom could not find the cordless home phone.  After looking for a few minutes, she decided to use her cell phone to call the home phone, so it would ring and she could find it.  So she dialed and as she waited she began talking to the rest of us.  A few seconds later, the phone started to ring, and without missing a beat, mom turned to us and said, “WHO is calling us so late?!?!”.  Holding back the laughter, we replied, “umm….you are, mom!”. 

Now, if any normal person were to do these things, people would probably start to distance themselves from that person.  But, that was the charm of my mother.  Somehow, finding out that she had knocked over another mailbox or driven away with a gas pump attached to her suburban just made you love her a little more.  That’s the magic of Sherrie.

I’d like to share with you a special experience that I had some 7 years ago. Shortly after turning 19, I had the opportunity to serve a two-year mission for my church in India.  As you would probably expect, going from Libertyville to India was quite the shock.  Those first few weeks were rough.  India was more hot and humid than even my wildest imaginations, the food didn’t sit well with my stomach, and I struggled to communicate in even the most basic way with those around me.  These struggles seemed to culminate one especially hot afternoon.  After walking around in a maze like neighborhood, my companion and I realized that we had no idea where we were.  In this particular city there was a large river that ran through it.  I thought that if we could just see where we were along that river, we’d be able to figure out where we were.  At the end of the street we were on there was a small grassy patch and then a wall.  I decided that I was going to climb on the wall to get a view of the river.   As I crossed the grassy patch, I immediately sank in up to my knees, in what quickly became clear to me wasn’t grass, but was sewage.

All my frustrations with my situation seemed to boil over at that moment, and to top it off, my companion was in stitches laughing at me.  I was livid.  I wanted to quit and go home.  But just as I was ready to melt down, I heard a voice—not a voice in my head, to me it was a real audible voice.  It was the voice of my mom, and she was saying the words of a scripture from the Book of Mormon, Alma 26:27.  It reads, “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst they brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”  Instantly, I felt the frustration leave my body.  It was all I needed to hear.  From there, I decided to clean myself off and get back doing the work that I committed to do.  That experience changed my life, and as a result, turned my mission into something that I enjoyed thoroughly and will cherish for the rest of my life.

I learned two things from that experience: (1) Never assume that ANYTHING is India is grass; and (2) that I had a mother 10,000 miles away, who spent every night on her knees, begging her Heavenly Father to protect her son.  I know that it was because of her love and her prayers that I heard her voice, and that experience forever burned in my heart the love that my mother has for me.

A few weeks ago, I was going through my phone and deleting old files.  As I went through old text messages, I came across the last text message that I ever received from my mom.  It was just a single word: yeehaw (with a bunch of exclamation points).  Now, I have absolutely no clue what the context of her message is.  For all I know she just felt like texting me yeehaw one day.  To me, that sums up my mom so perfectly.  She was so enthusiastic and positive that I can just picture her shouting “yeehaw!” for no reason at all, other than to show that life was good.

As life without mom comes in to picture, I am reminded of just how good she was, and how good life was if you had the privilege of knowing her.  And as sad as it is to see mom go, I am comforted that through God’s plan and through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be with our families forever.  Nothing brings more peace to my soul. 

Mom, I miss you! I love you! Yeehaw!

Friday, February 15, 2013

It has been two weeks and two days since mom's passing, it still seems very unreal to me.  Every morning and every night I feel this harsh reality hitting me all over again.  I don't know how to live without her but I do know that she would want us all to live for I keep moving and looking for new ways to connect with her everyday.  She truly is the most amazing woman I have ever met, I will miss her everyday until we meet again!



This was the talk I shared at mom's funeral in Chicago, the day truly was celebration of mom's legacy, thank you for all your support and love for our family!...

I have had a very difficult time trying to find the right word to express all that my mother was in a brief 5 minutes.  The stories and memories that I have are so tender to my heart and I feel there are no words that can do them justice, the good news for me is that I would propose most of you feel the same way.  Those who have had the pleasure of being a part of her life know the warmth of this woman; it pierces your very soul.   I remember as a young girl watching my mother embrace someone we hardly new or hold a crying child at a grocery store.  I couldn’t understand how she could hold them so lovingly while I was too distracted by their appearance and too afraid that she might have crossed boundaries, but this is my mother.  Mom loved everyone, regardless of appearance, or how well she knew them, or if they knew her, her love was truly unconditional and without limitations.  After Brandon had served on a 2-year mission for our church in Honduras my mother, father and myself went to spend some time with him in some of the areas he served.  We had never met these people before, we didn’t even speak their language, but mom greeted each one with a huge hug and a very loud, enunciated HOLA.  She loved them instantly! She would try so hard to talk with them and share her gratitude for watching over her son.  They couldn’t understand a word she was saying, so she said it louder, when they didn’t understand that she would talk slower, and when they still didn’t understand she would offer another embrace…and words were no longer needed. 

I recently read, “you cannot succeed in love if you keep one foot out on the bank for safety’s sake,” but mom never had a problem diving right in!  My mother has taught me to love.  I remember one particularly difficult day in junior high when I was sure my life was almost over and I had just finished expressing all of those emotions with my mother before slamming the car door and hearing the words have a wonderful day.  Of course minutes after school started I could hardly remember the roller coaster of emotions that I had just taken my mother on and life was great, but she didn’t know that.  Sure enough I found a small gift in my locker and a note letting me know that she loved me and no matter what she would always be with me and remain my best friend.  In the package was a ceramic kitten snuggled up to a bear, she never said who was the kitten and who was the bear but I have a pretty good idea.  That little ceramic sits on my daughter’s nightstand today. 

 Having a relationship like my mother and I have requires faith, faith that we must be willing to exercise.    If it is done right, we end up sharing everything – all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses and all our joys- with another person.  My mother knew all; she knew my hopes and helped me achieve them.  She taught me that I could do anything and saw strengths in me that I couldn’t see in my self.  My mother knew my fears.  She taught me how to over come many of them and held my hand through all of them.  My mother has always been my beacon, my driving force and the light that fills my soul.  In her I learned faith, faith that she will always be near, guiding me on this journey.  And through her and her example I learned faith in my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. 

This same faith she taught my children.  From the time they were babies they always knew that Grandma was never too busy, her commitment to them was first and foremost.  I remember many late nights after putting the kids in their pajamas and Grandma would bring them downstairs and put their shoes and coats on and start to head out the door.  Shocked, and exhausted I would ask what she was doing and she would say but I promised I would take them out for ice cream…but I promised I would take them sledding…but I promised I would take them to Chuck E Cheese.  The kids had faith that their Grandma would keep her promise.  As they got older and especially over these last 8 months she taught them the greatest lessons on faith.  Many times I would hear my children pray for their Grandmother and have the purest of faith that all would be well.  One morning at Christmas after Grandma had been taken back to the hospital I heard Skyler recount his dream to his Grandpa.  He told him how he was coming down the stairs and he saw his Grandma Sherrie sitting on the couch next to the Christmas tree.  Skyler said he looked at her and she smiled at him and said it’s going to be okay.  Skyler had faith in his Grandmother.  He would spend time with her teaching and coaching her to grab something or write and just as she had so many times before she would keep her promises and make him proud and he was so proud.  To this day one of Kenzy’s favorite stories of Grandma is when they decided to venture out on a walk to the lake.  The lake was far away and down a very steep hill but Grandma was sure she could find her way and Kenzy loved taking walks with Grandma.  They grabbed a few fruit snacks and a bottle of water and Grandma, Kenzy, and Skyler began their walk.  Hours later I began to worry.  The weather was hot, they hadn’t called and we couldn’t find them anywhere.   After another few hours mom got reception and they were miles away.  For those who know me, know that a walk like that sounds torturous, unless there is a cookie at the end of the walk and the walk is to the kitchen.  This was a passion that only Kenzy shared with her Grandmother but as they recount the story it was clear that this was a great adventure.  They were pioneers searching for Zion, when they were tired they played in the stream, when they were lost they prayed for help, and when they found the lake once again their faith was strengthened. 

My mother had many gifts and talents and she magnified them all.  She was a woman with a pure love for everyone, a woman who taught faith, and a woman of service.  As a child I remember my mother reading the book Love You Forever by Robert N Munsch.  The story is about a child and his mother, and the mother’s constant love regardless of the child’s tantrums.  Each night the mother would sneak into her son’s room and hold him tight and sing the words, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” At the end of this book the mother becomes old and unable to get around and late at night her son would sneak into her room and repeat the song, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living my mother you’ll be.” 

I wish that I could share with you a piece of this love that I share with my mother.  It is so strong and so deep it would be like gathering all the light from the sun and trying to contain it in little box.  There are not enough words, too many stories, and many more lessons but the depth of our relationship truly developed over these last 8 months.  This experience was not of my choosing and extremely difficult but it was through this that my mother taught me some of my greatest lessons and through this that our spirits will be forever connected.  There were many times that I sat at her beside once again unable to share my love for her that I simply held her hand and wept hoping that she would know my thoughts, my hopes, and my fears.  Those were sacred moments and I know that she understood all of me.  As I watched my mother fight trough each set back, determined to progress my love for her grew.  Taking her to therapy and watching her sweat as she struggled to stand taught me determination.  She is my hero, she may have received hours of therapy but the real teaching remained from a wise mother to a daughter. Caring for someone so remarkable was a privilege.  Learning at her feet was a sacred honor.

A close friend recently said after his father died he worried how would my children ever know such a great man?  A question that I have spent many tearful nights wondering, how my children will know and remember such a remarkable woman.  He realized that the only way he could teach them of their grandfather was to become more like him.  The best way to honor my mother is to be like her, to love unconditionally, teach faith, and to serve.  May each of us be a little more willing to step out of our comfort zone, emulate her, and dive into an unconditional love for each other.  “Rather than mourn the absence of the flame, let us celebrate how brightly it burned.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Funeral Talk

Thank you for all of the love and support that has been extended not only the last few weeks but over the last 9 months. Our Heavenly Father is mindful of us and our struggles and I am eternally grateful for his role in my life.
Love Zach
Below is the talk that I gave at mom's funeral that Dad asked us to post
As many of you know I am quite a bit younger than my siblings. For those of you who didn’t know, all you have to do is look at Brandon’s increasingly grey hair. Growing up I always thought it was unfair that I didn’t have any brothers and sisters close to my age. I would always complain that the only reason I got in trouble was because I didn’t have anyone else to blame it on. My older brothers would often recall hilarious stories from their childhood only to get to the end and say, “Oh wait you weren’t born yet”.

          While I was throwing myself a pity party, my mom would put her arms around me and say, “Zoober if you weren’t my baby then we wouldn’t get to spend as much time together”. This proved to be true on multiple occasions. I remember one instance in particular when all I wanted to do was play soccer like my brothers but I was to young to play. I was really into soccer but to young to play… so I decided to make my own team. I had coaches, players, practices… but none of them were real. I remember one time specifically when I was adamant that my mom drive me to my soccer practice. She readily agreed knowing full well I had no practice. We jumped in the car and she said “Where to?”. A left here, a right here soon enough we pulled up to a park. “we’re here I said”. She asked if I wanted her to come with me but I declined saying I could do It by myself. After kicking the ball around for a while I came back to the car and told her practice was over, it was time to go home. On the way home she would ask me how practice was, if we had to run a lot, and who the best players were. Looking back I realized mom was up for anything, teaching me to enjoy life whether the adventure is real or pretend.
As I got older I began to appreciate our time together more and more. My mom and I were best friends. And we had to be, because she was involved in everything. If there is a record for the number of times that someone could be team mom or guest reader, my mom would hold it.

          Because of the special time I spent with my mom, and the lessons she taught me, today is not a day of mourning, even though I am really sad. Today is an opportunity for me to celebrate the life of the greatest woman I have ever known. The challenge is deciding what sweet memories of mom to share with you in the short amount of time I have been given.  She was kind, and loving, and always had time to listen… no matter who it was.

          When I was in High School, I started getting nervous that my friends liked hanging out with my mom more than hanging out with me. It was not uncommon for me to come home and find my friends sitting at the table chatting away with my mom.  Some days I would call her ten minutes before lunch and ask her if my friends and I could come home to eat. When we got to the house there would already be Panini’s, salad, and fresh baked cookies waiting.  Soon word of my mom’s lunches spread and more and more people wanted to eat lunch with me.

          Every time, my mom would give my friends big hugs, and talk like they were best friends… whether she knew them or not. But that’s just how she was. She endeared herself to everyone she met. When I would leave for school my mom would always say, “be a friend today… someone needs it”. But she didn’t just say it, she taught me through example. Growing up, I remember coming in the room for thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and every time there were people who I didn’t know that my mom had invited over so that they were not alone for the Holidays.

          One thing that my mom loved to do was go to my games. I never had to look up in the stands to know that she was there. Her cheering was a little bit different than the other parents. If I made a save I would hear her yell, “good save zachy!!!!” only to be immediately followed by “that was a really good shot too though!!!” or She would yell “get the ball… but don’t hurt em’”.

          Yes, my mom was an amazing woman. But perhaps the scriptures say it best in Proverbs 31. Let me read a few of the verses that Solomon wrote, who must have had my mom in mind when he wrote them:

 Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idelness.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
           I love my mom and miss her dearly. And as sad as this day is, I know that I will see my mom again and that we will be reunited as a family. I know that families are forever! If not, then what’s forever for? I know there is a God in heaven who understands everything – especially why things happen. He is mindful of us and of our struggles and will never give us a trial that we cannot overcome with his help.

          I know that my mom is in a better place than we are, basking in the light of her Savior. I also believe in guardian angels, and hope that our Heavenly Father will be compassionate enough to occasionally let my mom look out for me when I’m faced with life’s most difficult decisions.
I testify that as much as I miss my mom, I will see her again. 
I love you mom. Thanks again for all you are, and for all you have helped me become.  I Thank God everyday that I will see you again!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thoughts from Jess

This is my first time posting on Sherrie's blog. I don't know how to articulate how much I love her with one post. I am the most recent member in the Labrum clan (excluding new grandbabies), knowing Sherrie only 4 short years. It wasn't enough time with her, but the time we had was so fun. Sherrie's accident happened only 3 days after our son, Hudson, was born—talk about an emotional roller coaster. Watching Mom with all the other grandchildren makes me sad for what Hudson will miss. She is the worlds best grandma and everyone that knows her would agree. She loves her grandchildren more than anything and I am so happy she was able to meet our sweet Hudson. It was apparent, even with her injuries, that she knew who he was and how special he is to her. When we would walk in the room she would reach for him and motion to have us set him in her lap. I know some of the last emails she sent out were about how proud she was to have another grandson. I feel so blessed for the time I had with her and the influence she has on me still. She has made me want to be a better wife, mother, and friend. I have a huge duty to teach my children about how wonderful their grandmother is. I am so blessed to have the knowledge that families are forever. I can't wait until we meet again.


Talk from Mom's service

Below is my talk from Mom's funeral service last week.  Dad asked that we each post what we had written down here on the blog.  Thanks again to all of you for your love and support!


So where do I start?   What is left to say about such a great woman?  Sure I am biased, but no matter the words I choose, they just don’t seem to do her life justice.  I have even tried singing them, but that definitely didn’t help…in fact, it may be the only thing I could do to clear out this room all at once.

Thank you for being here.  It was wonderful seeing so many old friends this morning.  Some of you I haven’t seen since I had a surfer mullet and said things “rad” and “gnarly.”  Looking out at the audience today, I am overwhelmed.  It means so much to us that you are here – many of you have traveled from far away to be here with us.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  My mother taught us that so much of our happiness here on this earth is derived from the types of relationships we build with family and friends through service and love.  Each of you is evidence of that principle in her life and testament to her goodness. 

I am honored to be here to share some stories about sweet Sherrie Lynn Labrum – wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, cheerleader, motivational speaker, hype man, exemplar…and on and on on.   She is our Mama, our Nana, Sher…or Adams, her maiden name, as she was affectionately called by my Dad.  I am Brandon, Sherrie’s oldest child (but not that old, despite what my sibilings have suggested) or Bubba as she called me for as long as I can remember. 

I stand up hear with this strange mix of sadness and peace.  I want to sob – to cry – to cry out - to show you how much I loved her, but I can’t because I have much to say.  Not everything I COULD share, because you know that would take seemingly forever and we ALL must go on living.  Whoever said that dying was hard on the living is right. 

As you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time pondering my mother’s life over the last eight months, and even more so over the last few days.   Perhaps many of you that knew her well have done the same.   After a lot of pondering, I have decided she was pretty much perfect.  No doubt her life ranks up there with some of the great ones.  In our minds, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gahndi, and Martin Luther King Jr, ain’t got nothin’ her…BUT, I did – not air her dirty laundry (of which her kids produced a lot)– come up with a couple of things she may have to do some explaining for. 

First, she was a terrible driver.  No really, not good.  In fact, there are probably – no exaggeration – at least a dozen people in this room that have been tapped, sideswiped, or fender-bendered by my mom.  I know for a fact that there are at least three of you that were backed into in our own driveway…usually 15 seconds after she said good bye and watched you get into your car…that was parked directly behind her. 

So, if you walk away with nothing else after this service, rest assured that the roads (or at least our driveway) are just a little bit safer.   That said, I should probably remind you that she did have five children that inherited, at least in part, her approach to operating motor vehicles. 

I also heard my mom curse.  It was just once and it was muffled and under her breath, but it did happen. She would probably still deny it today (and may be right).  But I’m pretty sure I heard it.  I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but the smart money would tell it you it was probably something Todd did. 

So that’s it.  A spotty driving record and one swear word.  Not a bad track record over 56 years. 

It’s that life that we are here to cherish.  To honor.  To celebrate.  I wish so badly that it were under different circumstances.  A birthday perhaps.  An anniversary.  Even a roast.  Anything but this.  In preparing my words for today, I typed what are undoubtedly the most difficult words I’ve have ever had to type…Sherrie Labrum Eulogy.  It all seems so surreal.  I would love for her to physically be here today to hear us share all of the good memories and experiences we’ve had with her over the years, although my mom would not relished so much the attention.  I’m not sure she would have been able to sit through more than about five minutes – she never felt comfortable when people were making a “fuss” over her.  She wouldn’t have liked it, but she deserves it…every bit. 

In these situations you are asked to tell a group about the person of honor.  Please allow me some latitude because I will inevitably tell you stories that involve us, me and my siblings.  This isn’t about me or them– it is about some of our many experiences with an amazing woman -- so I hope you understand this is about all of us.


Let me say simply that my mother is a lifesaver in every sense of the word.  I obviously didn’t know her as a child, but I imagine this has always been the case.  Everything my grandmother told me corroborates my assumption.  She saved my life, as I know she did my sibling’s, on more than one occasion.  In fact, I believe she lived for it.  The first time that I can remember this happening was in the second grade when she let me grow mold in our refrigerator on eight different kinds of cheese for the science fair.  I remember really really wanting to win and being convinced that my “mold on cheese” experiment was a sure bet.  Apparently, I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the lamp.  I’m not sure what I was setting out to prove, other than confirmatory evidence that mold DOES in fact grow on cheese.   Not much of a breakthrough, I must admit, even in 1985, but I did make it to the state science fair.  And I remember thinking it was all because of her. Life saved.  And it didn’t stop there.  There are more examples than I an count, but suffice it to say, she did talk me out of shaving my jersey number into the back of my head on more than one occasion.  Life saved. 

More importantly, she saved our lives by teaching us that being kind was a must-have, not a nice to have.  She taught us that being “cool” isn’t all its cracked up to be and that it was ok and expected to stand up for what we believed in.  She showed us that a life of service, is a life of happiness.  She taught her boys to be good men and to respect women (even our sister).  The list could go on and on, but it has struck me over the years that most of these things weren’t things that she said to us, but rather showed us.  She lived her principles, which may ultimately be the lynchpin between shaping a life and saving a life. 

As a quick aside, before she started saving our lives, she began with my Dad.  My Dad admits it – he always said that any good thing he has accomplished is because of her (by the way, he didn’t need to tell us that, we already knew).  I’m not sure where he was headed before he met her, but from the college pictures I’ve seen, it wasn’t anywhere pretty.  There is a picture of him in a beige leisure suit and purple clogs that readily comes to mind that could have made John Travolta jealous.  Either way, Mom has proven to be up for the challenge. 


My wife Wendy and I have been blessed with two children.  Our first, Caroline, has been an angel from heaven.  Perfect from Day 1.  Good natured, well mannered, inquisitive, tender…all the good things you hope for in a little girl.  Our second, named Gray, is…well…to put it mildly…an ANIMAL.  Most days we think he needs to be raised in the woods by wolves.  Wendy and I, in the process of raising him, have gained deeper appreciation for my sweet mom.  She, like us, was blessed with a princess…but paid her dues with not one, but FOUR animals.  When I was a senior in high school my Mom mentioned to me that we were going through almost 8 gallons of milk, 6 loaves of bread, and 5 boxes of cereal, and 4 pounds of deli meat each WEEK.  There were countless trips to the emergency room, dozens of broken spindles on the banister, broken windows, broken glasses, broken bones, and at least on head through dry wall (ask Tyler and Todd about that one – not a happy day in the Labrum household).   

To this day, I have no idea how she did it.  You many not be able to tell from how we turned out, but she really did it well.  With my mom, it all seemed so effortless.  As an adult I have stood in awe of the way she seemed to elegantly move through live.  Sure, she lost her keys or her wallet a few dozen times, but most of the time life just seemed to suit her.  I feel like I am usually grinding my way through life – one foot in front of the other, each step requiring just a bit more exertion than the last.  Not her.  I have often wondered why, and I have come to the conclusion that its because she lived as she is.  She isn’t trying to be kind.  She is kind.  She isn’t trying to be non-judgmental and love unconditionally.  She really isn’t judgmental and does, in fact, love her friends and family as she said she did.  She is genuinely good, and as a result, her efforts to be good seemed pretty natural.  I am so grateful to have had the privilege of witnessing that for 34 years.


As I describe my mother, I worry that some you that didn’t know her as well might think I describing some type of Polyanna and apple-pie kind of perfection.  While she did like apple pie and the movie Polyanna, that was not my mother.  She was happy, but not na├»ve.  Full of joy, but keenly aware of the needs of those around her.  She didn’t operate at a superficial level, she dug into life – into the trenches, where the real fun, the real meaningful joy, the real emotion resides.  And the woman loved to have fun.  She used to take us to toilet paper our friends houses in the middle of the night…also to go back and clean it up the next morning. 

Some of my first memories of my Mom are dancing with her in our kitchen to “Let’s Hear It For the Boy.”  That was our jam.  Gotta love the 80’s – I’m just thankful it wasn’t something really cheesy, like Olivia Newton John or something.  Mom loved to dance.  In the kitchen.  In the car.  With the kids.  With my dad.  With her dad. 

In fact, she loved to dance so much that she decided to chaperone the senior prom on year.  The only challenge was that no one told me.  Or so I thought.  After taking the obligatory prom pictures at our house, I made my way out the front door with my friends and my date to what I thought was an unbelievably cool white stretch limo.  Yikes.  On my way out, Mom said as she normally did, “I love you.  Remember who you are” and then, “we’ll see you over at the dance.”  I, of course, thought she was joking, and said something to the effect of, “yeah, right.  See you later” and off we went.  A few hours later at the dance, I made my way out of the sea of people dancing near the DJ to go get a drink of water.  As I get to the outside edge of the gym floor (just outside the perimeter of the real serious dancing), I hear.  “Hi, Brandon!”  I looked up in horror recognizing my mom’s voice.  And there they were.  My parents…at my senior prom…and they WERE DANCING.   I couldn’t believe it.  I scrambled to check that I was in fact wearing a shirt and instantly replayed the previous two hours to make sure I hadn’t done something completely stupid.  Though, I was stunned in the moment, I have look back on that moment now with some fondness.  At the end of the day, here were two people that loved their kids.  And loved each other.  And we’re fun enough to dance together…and not look half bad doing it. 


I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my mother upset.  Literally.  That’s not an exaggeration.  As you might have guessed. none of the times she was upset had anything to do with me.  It was invariably one of my siblings doing the dumb things.  I was an angel.   I promise.  

Mom was slow to anger, but not a pushover.  She demanded respect because of the example she set.  She didn’t need to scream and yell…even when Todd dumped a four gallon jug of sunny delight on the new carpet or her oldest son forgot to the turn the water off when filling the pool…just before leaving for a 10 day vacation.  Oops.  (I think that one still may be a bit raw for Dad).  There was nothing worse than mom being disappointed in you.  Growing up, it was the worst D-word in the book.    

During one vacation to Utah, my Dad was frustrated about something (probably us) and got a bit snippy with my Mom.  After some brief words, he walked away in a bit of a huff.  I was old enough to understand what was happening and I said something to the effect of, “Mom, aren’t you going to say something to him.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  He shouldn’t get mad at you like that.”  She calmly replied, “Son, I love your Father and he’ll come back.  I don’t need to yell back.  Just watch.”  Sure enough, a few minutes later he returned.  I remember he said I’m sorry and I love you and kissed her on the cheek.  She said, “I love you too” and moved on. No bitterness.  She forgave him…immediately.  No guile.  No grudge.  No guilt trip at a later day.  It was amazing…not to mention that I learned at that moment, who really wore the pants in their relationship.  


Allow me to say a quick word about our journey over the last eight months.  As you can imagine, they have been exceedingly challenging for our mom our family.  They have taken us to the edge of our physical, spiritual, and emotional understanding.  I know that she is in a better place- free from earthly care and free from pain.  I also believe she misses us as much as we miss her, and as a result, will find a way to be near us.  To lift us up.  To help turn our frowns upside down and lift up our heads when they hang.  I also know that one day “the soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.”  I look forward to that day. 

Some of you many be wondering, as we have at various points along our journey, how could this happen?  Why our mom?  Which begs a broader question about why bad things can happen to good people?  I am not going to profess to have all or any of the answers, but I would be remiss if didn’t share some of my feelings given what’s transpired.

Shortly after my mom’s accident, I heard a song called Head or Your Heart that really struck me.  There is verse in the song that goes: 

Choose one, your head or your heart,
We could not of known it'd go this far.
Choose one, it's the hardest part.
Losing one becomes the very start.

For the last eight months, as my mom literally fought for her life – and she fought so hard - we fought to come to grips with what had happened and reconcile it in our own lives.  In may ways and on a continual basis, we had to make a choice between out head and our heart.  Our heads told us that this wasn’t fair and to be angry and depressed.  Our hearts reminded us of what we had be taught – from our mother and through our faith.  This was part of a plan.  There were new lessons to be learned.  Choosing our hearts meant choosing to trust that we have a loving Heavenly Father that wasn’t going to forsake us if we turned to him, that from time to time he would provide answers to prayers (often through many of you).  Choosing our hearts meant finding comfort in our opportunity to be together as a family again once this mortal life is done.  We didn’t know it would go this far, but if you would have told us that we could have all these years with such an amazing and eternity.  Even though it would have been cut short, we would have taken it. 

A close family friend, Rodney Dial, who recently lost his own father sent me a note he had received from my mom shortly after his passing.  To me, it is as close as are going to get today to the words she might have shared had she been standing here in my place.  I want to share a piece of it with you.

I was disbelieving, as I know you were, to hear of your Dad's accident and passing.  How could this happen to such a vital, "living life to the fullest", kind man?  I haven't figured out the answer to that question, but I do know that he is not gone, but that his goodness and kindness are being shared in a different place.  Where Rod Dial is now, he is still living life to the fullest because that is the kind of man he is.  While I didn't know him as long as many, I had such a respect for him and the way he was raising his family.  That is his wonderful legacy....You!  Along with your brothers and sisters, Rod's spirit will live on through your many valiant works in this life.  He was a caring person and totally without guile.  I know very few people like that.  These attributes will be reflected in his family.  Luckily, he never wasted any time in teaching you while you were young!

Losing my mother is the start of a new journey, that I believe ultimately leads right back to her.    Her legacy will continue through all of us here today.  My job, our job, is to try to live our lives as she did.  Without regret.  Without guile.  With unconditional love.  In my mother’s eyes, there were no clicks or clubs, no exclusivity, no haves and have-nots.  There were people.  May we strive to see our worlds the same way.  May we smile more and love more deeply is my prayer.

Mom, I love you.  I will miss you.  But I will see you again.