Tamara Anne Brown
2 April 2013
I guess one never really knows where to start with something like this.
Maybe I’ll start with this service. My mom loved people… but hated funerals… so I know she’s very appreciative and thankful to all of you that were brave enough to come today. On behalf of my entire family, thank you.
It’s been a while since I was up here. I was an alter boy a long time ago. My mom used to take us to church. It was my mom that taught us about religion…
… really, the importance of being part of a larger community… and the idea that there was something greater than oneself.
She taught us that… my mom.
My mom taught us almost all of the really hard but so important lessons in life.
She taught us about being appreciative… about having humility… about having respect…
… and she taught us how to reach for something higher…
…to go DO something… to MAKE a difference… and whether it’s big or small… that it A-L-L counts.
She taught us that not only in words… but by her actions, too.
Those of you who really know my mom know when she set her mind to something… whether this was something SHE was going to accomplish — or whether it was something YOU were going to accomplish… you had no choice, it was going to get done.
It didn’t matter to her that it might be against the odds… or IMPOSSIBLE… my mom had this INDOMITABLE CONFIDENCE…
… it was infectious…
… it was going to happen because my mom said it was going to happen.
As if this wasn’t big enough in my life, my Uncle Nicky recently wrote a lovely tribute to my mom that put this in an entirely new, entirely BIGGER perspective for me.
He talked about growing up in New Orleans… about it being a city without much opportunity or ambition back then…
…but not for my mom… she was determined to have a better life… and ended up leading the way for her ENTIRE FAMILY to come to California where there were dreams and opportunity.
You know it’s one thing to make things happen when you have some resources and experience as she had later in life…
… but it’s quite another to affect the lives of your ENTIRE family when you have no experience, no resources, no support… and you’re just a kid.
That WAS one of mom’s very special gifts… to make the lives of everyone around her better…
…and if you knew one thing about my mom, you knew YOUR life was going to be better simply because you knew my mom.
My mom had other special gifts…
… even though she was a Californian through and through… fashionable… well traveled… well read… probably the most tanned Irish woman on the planet… she never lost her good ‘ole fashioned New Orleans southern charm… a DISARMING charm, the best kind… she could make anyone — even complete strangers — feel welcome and special. It was magic.
She was magic with animals, too. Animals LOVED my mom.
My favorite way to describe my mom is as the female Dr. Doolittle.
She started life with a pet pig… which she proudly dressed in a pink ribbon and loved remembering how beautiful her little pet piggie was…
… and along the way had countless other loving pets… including a white mouse named Penelope that we snuck on board a plane one summer on our way to Hawaii, a turtle named fluffy, a gold fish named Pearl, a thoroughbred horse name Gebaru, an adopted skunk, families of raccoons, and so many cats we’ve lost count.
Her most beloved pets, however, were her two massive Irish Wolfhounds, who individually each outweighed my mom… and collective pretty much outweighed all us kids in the house.
Decades later, you still couldn’t tell a pup story without it bring a tear to my mom’s eye… she was just the kindest and best animal person that I’ve ever known.
My mom had a special gift for throwing parties. Could she ever! She was a sight to behold… bright pink cocktail dress… perfectly styled hair… like she walked right out of the pages of a fashion magazine.
And she was really smart about it. She always invited everyone, including everyone on the block. I once asked her when I was young why she went through all that extra trouble… and she said… because they’re all our friends… and then she said with just a hint of a wink, “and if everyone’s invited, no one can complain about it getting too loud and ruining our fun!”
That was another lesson she taught us… doing the RIGHT thing can also mean doing the BEST thing.
You know, some of the lessons my mom taught us weren’t so easy…. she had a special gift for putting people in their place, too, when the situation called for it.
I wanted to have a party in 6th grade and I created a special list of just the “cool” people to invite.
Boy, was mom furious.
She said: ”Who the hell do you think you are?! Maybe we’ll have a party and not invite YOU!”
I’m almost 54 years old and I think that is still probably the single most important lesson I’ve learned in life. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e counts.
I learned that from my mom.
Before I finish, I’d like to share a few thank you’s to my mom:
* Thank you for volunteering so freely of your time with so many charities… Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids… public television… All Souls Parrish… we kids were really proud of the good work that you did.
* Thank you for teaching us the joy of reading
* Thank you for being brave enough to actually DRIVE a pink cadillac long before Bruce Springstein made it Rock n Roll folklore
* Thank you for teaching us to appreciate the greats like Frank Sinatra and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
* Thank you for taking us camping in a real live horse-drawn caravan
* Thank you for helping us believe in wonderous things like the Lock Ness Monster and old Greek legends
* Thank you for showing us the world
I have one last thought I’d like to share:
The last decade or so has certainly been volatile in Silicon Valley.
But I was so lucky in that I’m one of the only people I know that — when the going got really tough — I could actually go home… to South City… to Palm Avenue… to my childhood bedroom… to actually get tucked into bed by my mom.
I can still hear her saying to me: “Good night. God Bless. And I love you.”
When you go to sleep tonight… when you close your eyes… I think that’s something my mom would like to say to each and every one of you, too. She loved everyone so.
We love you, too, mom.