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Dorothy Zimmermann, R.I.P.

Dorothy Zimmermann was my stepmother. At her funeral/memorial service two weeks ago her son Pat Casey delivered a lovely eulogy that expresses how everyone who knew Dorothy will remember her:

Thanks to all who came today, to honor our mother and friend, Dorothy.

Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words. And thanks to all who traveled long distances to be here.

For those who don't know me, my name is Patrick, and I am Dorothy's oldest child, the first of four. Following my birth in 1949, came Michael, Corinne, and then Shawn. Corrine is here today; Mike and Shawn have been delayed in travel, and are on the way.

I usually think of our mother as one who had a tough life. Her parents divorced when she was just 8 years old; she was raised by her working mother in poor circumstances during the Depression and WWII years. At age 16, Dorothy married our father, Edward, and thus began a 20-year marriage characterized by great difficulties.

But, in 1968, after the ending of that unhappy marriage, Dorothy's life took a happier turn. She met and married, in 1969, the greatest man I know, Werner Zimmermann.

The two of them seem to have been made for each other. The were a great team. They became partners in life, and partners in business.

Werner loved our mother, totally, unreservedly, not least during the last two years of Dorothy's life, when her health began to deteriorate more rapidly. They were the best things that ever happened to each other.

They were, and are, people of true grit. They had good times and bad times. Usually the good times and bad times were all happening at the same time. Such as when their business burned to the ground in 1971 while Werner was in the hospital having abdominal surgery. No matter what happened to them, they just picked up the pieces and kept working.

I think of myself as a hard worker, but Werner and Mom make me look like a slacker.

I wasn't always nice to mom. Especially when I was much younger thought I knew everything. She wasn't one to pass judgement, though. She always allowed me to have my opinions, no matter how harebrained they might be. Mom wasn't well-educated in the arts and sciences, but she had a wisdom of thought and a grace of behavior that many who hold doctorates would be lucky to possess.

The thing, though, that I most admire about Mom, is her tenacity in living. Those of us who know the physical and emotional trials that she endured, know that those trials would have killed most humans. She loved life to the uttermost. She valued every breath. At her core was an optimism that would not admit defeat.

Those few of us who watched that life finally escape her body, know that she fought to the end. Mom was not a quitter.

I am one who, seeing her suffering, would say, oh, I would have given up. When she chose to suffer one more surgery, I thought, it seems irrational.

Seeing Werner by her bedside for weeks at a time, refusing to eat or sleep, refusing to leave her, holding her hand, seeing to the details of her care, keeping the doctors on their feet, I learned lessons.

Life is too valuable to give it up easily. It comes from our Creator, and is a gift that we must never take for granted, or cast away because it gets too hard to endure.

So, thanks, Mom. Thanks for teaching us about life.

We miss you.

(cf. 2009-08-09 - Dorothy Zimmermann, ...) - ^z - 2009-08-21