Campari and Soda


Two years ago today Mom went to heaven. She is still with me everyday. At her memorial service I gave this eulogy:

Well, Mom finally got her wish. I am standing at the altar.

Dad and I want to thank you, our dear friends, for coming today. I know Mom is beaming at seeing us all together.

Some important information, one, there will be wine and hors d’oeuvres immediately following the service, and two, I will be brief.

Mom, as most of you benefitted from, was the great storyteller in the family. So I will not even dare tread on her supremely conquered ground. I’ll stick to some anecdotes, quotes and little reminders that you can use to fill in your own, special memories of my Mom, Doris Blum.

Thank you, Father Loc, Mom was a devout Catholic and this was a beautiful service.

Mom was also a multi-tasking Catholic. I often marveled at her ability to say her morning prayers while applying make up, combing out her hair, cleaning her jewelry for the day and lint-brushing a St. John Knit.

Mom was also a lover of all animals, although she never understood why God created flies.

While living in London she was on her way to a luncheon one day, dressed to the Ferragamo nines, when a small dog ran out into traffic. She demanded that the cabbie stop, and when he complained, she jumped out anyway, scooped up the dog, and made the driver take her to the address listed on the dog’s tag. Ignoring waiting friends and winter white clothes, she comforted the dog on her lap until he was reunited with his owner and on the way to the Vet. Luckily the dog was not seriously hurt. But the cabbie whined all the way to the luncheon.

And so started one of Mom’s favorite sayings, “the more I learn about people, the more I love dogs.”

Mom had phrases she picked up from her first coming to America and wanting so to fit in. I suspected and then later confirmed that these sayings were not entirely accurate, or she wasn’t 100% sure what they meant. For example:

No matter how much she explained about America being a melting pot, she could not convince me that the first line of the National Anthem was, “Jose, can you see?”

When we bet on something, even if I won, I never seemed to get dollars or donuts. Huh.

I never understood the story of Carter and his liver pills, but I never forgot that “Yvonne Lutz had more beautiful clothes than Carter had liver pills.”

Then there were phrases that at first sounded perfectly fine, until you thought about them a minute:

Speaking of my Dad and myself, she would say: “You two are so alike!” (was that admonishment in her voice?)


“Hunger comes with eating.”


“Poor dear had a humorectomy at a very early age.”

There were bridge club phrases that I grew up saying, long before I held a card:

“Never send a boy in to do a man’s job.”  “ Who dealt this mess?“  “Second man low.“

As a kid I loved the day after Mom had bridge club, because in my lunch box I had Bugles stuffed with pimento cream cheese, cold pigs in a blanket, Jordan almonds and unspiked whiskey sour mix in my Thermos. Good times.

A rich life was led in 85 years, and the best I can do here is briefly use my words. Mom was:

Exciting, elegant, easy-going, and full of expression.

German, prone to malapropisms, neat and tidy and a delicious cook.

Able to get a suntan to rival an island native, all the way through middle age.

Great at keeping surprises but better at receiving them.

A natural born actress.

Unable, despite her aristocratic upbringing, to sit stone-faced when told a poop joke.

NOT a singer.

My Mom was a friend, cohort, co-conspirator and doe-eyed innocent when we were caught.

A lover of beauty and a hater of tacky.

One of the smartest people I’ve ever known, and skilled at hiding it to good use.

Loved and lovely.

Funny, often ’til it hurt.

A great celebrator of tradition and occasion. She knew everyone’s birthdays by heart.

A delicate eater unless it was foie gras, venison, pâté, caviar or German, white chocolate.

An aficionado of silly British humor.

A damn fine bridge player.

The love of my Dad’s life. (Deep breath)

My role model and my most favorite character to write about.

A lexicon of grace, warmth, style, pathos and motherhood.

And if it is about noon in heaven right now, I am willing to bet you that she is batting her long eyelashes at some unsuspecting angel and saying in a soft voice, “I’ll have a Campari and soda, please.”

Thank you.

One comment

  1. Chris, I loved the words you spoke at your Mother’s memorial service. They reminded me of my own Mother’s service, although I was not as brave as you to speak. Wish that I had been. Thank you so much for sharing your words. You’re a wonderful writer and I am lucky to have you as a friend.

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