Friday, January 16, 2009

What I Said Today

Jessica wrote a lot of it too. I got most of the way through without hitching, but the last few phrases were really a push...

There are so many obvious reasons to be proud of our mom, Eileen: She was a devoted daughter, a loving wife, a nurturing mother, a prolific artist, and a successful business woman. She gave to us a one of a kind family life, sharing with us an extended family like no other and committing herself to supporting our formative years. She was a pioneer of the working mom, dashing from job to job, but also making certain we always had dinner together around the kitchen table. Once we were able to fend for ourselves there was her career as a teacher, director, artistic director…the school and theater she founded, cultivated and fought so hard to sustain…the countless awards, newspaper articles and various accolades.

I have the memories I am sure many people have of their mothers. I remember themed birthday parties. We have super 8 of a train party and a pirate party; I remember a bowling party and a pinball party. I remember a Muppet birthday party she made for Jessica that featured a real live Big Bird – my cousin Jeff in a costume. The kids we so scared that they all hid behind the curtains and we had to shoo the yellow feathered menace into the back bathroom. I remember day trips and vacations. We would go to Long Grove or to the Milwaukee Zoo. We’d fly to New York to see the Seidens or drive, and drive, and drive, and drive from site to site. There’s this picture of my mom at Harper’s Ferry – we did this driving tour to Washington DC that included a jumbo helping of revolutionary war and civil war sites – Harper’s Ferry is a civil war armory; and there’s this picture of my mom that could have the caption “What in the world am I doing at Harper’s Ferry?” I’m sure she logged more miles and saw more historical sites than she’d ever imagined she would.

Looking back though I would say what stands out the most has been the commitment to family. We’ve been fortunate enough to have two families – two HUGE families. The first family has been the Boevers and the Seidens and the Gotteiners and the Koopermans and the Bauers, the Sarrots, and the Friels. Family holidays in our world could swell up to 50 people. Early Hanukah parties were a never ending obstacle course of family kisses that had to be completed in order to take full possession of a gift. It’s been an environment of unbelievable love and support. Layered on top of that has been Mom’s other family, the artistic family from the Wilmette Park District to the Children’s Theatre of Deerfield to the Performing Arts Workshop to Apple Tree we’ve been blessed to be part of a dedicated, talented family of artists. Jessica and I really grew up with this family. I know every nook and cranny of the Jewett Park Community Center. Instead of overnight camp, Jessica spent her summers in Gilson Park. It was a crazy, creative, exciting world and her bringing us there has had an undeniable impact on our lives. I can remember one particular overlapping occasion, a Rosh Hashana dinner at our home – the one where mom sent my then Girlfriend Stevie to the hospital with anaphylactic shock, but that’s another story – there was this dinner where I looked down the table saying it was a house full of Koopermans and Thesbians; a gathering of our entire, strange, wonderful family.

Probably what we are most proud of is her heart and the love she shared for you. You her friends and family, the loyal and close friends she kept since high school and college or you, the students she shaped and influenced. You the colleagues she collaborated with on so many adventures and inspired to jump off a cliff or two with her. You the young actor, director, musician, designer; the technician, manager…the artist, she felt exhilarated and lucky to have discovered and blessed to work with. You whose gifts she fostered and provided an artistic home in which to take risks. You the fellow artist she invited into our home to share a holiday, celebrate an upcoming wedding or baby or even to move in and live for a while as part of our family. You the collected community who gave so much because, sometimes to her astonishment, you believed in her vision.

We could not count the number of times when someone has stopped us all over the country and said, “Eileen Boevers is your mother? Oh, my God, your mom was such a big part of my life…” or “Your mom got me through the hardest time” or, “I still remember so many things your mom taught me”…or, “I used to sit in your mom’s kitchen and talk for hours.”…or, “I’m so grateful to your mom for giving me my start.” Each and every time is a reminder of the far reaching impact Eileen had in the community.

The last few months have been difficult ones for those of us who loved Eileen. The experience has been a real challenge for her entire extended family. I have to say though that I also witnessed something simply astonishing. While I was unfortunate enough to have to watch her body weaken I was also constantly revitalized be the strength of the love of her family and friends: cousins, colleagues, new friends and old, angels all who sat by her bed for countless visits and countless hours over the past few months. The outpouring of love we’ve witnessed has been simply remarkable.

If a life can be measured by the love of your friends then Eileen Boevers, your friend, our mother, was truly a giant.

And every one of you should know, she loved each of you with such passion, such depth, such drama, and such wonder. She told us, her children, countless times how much she loved us and how proud she was of us. We are proud to have witnessed how much love she shared with all of you through her work, her words, and her life.


Anonymous said...

good job, david. i'm sure you made her proud. - lindsay

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful and we were all lucky to know her. Thanks David.