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I always say "The Personal is Political" and well, this is about as personal as it gets..

In just a few minutes, I am headed out the door to deliver the tribute to my Mom that you will find below the fold.

Nearly everyone claims to have the Best Mom Ever, but I truly won that lottery.. Lots of eternal gratitude here for the love and the latitude that were always shown me.

This level of disclosure is rare for me -- I lead a pretty public life and usually am highly protective of my personal stories. But here it is -- a big glimpse into Who I Am and How I Came to Be.

But this is political too, in ways both direct and more subtle.

The values that my Mom lived by are values of care and equality. As my friend and fellow Minnesotan joedemocrat would say -- "That's why we are Democrats  -- We care about people."

And Yes Mom -- both my parents, like their parents before them -- was a fiercely partisan life-long die-hard member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. They love their Minnesota down-to-earth Democrats -- Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Eugene McCarthy, that old Iron Ranger Rudy Perpich, Al Franken, Mark Dayton, and most of all, Paul Wellstone. My parents raised $$ for him, met Paul and Sheila on many Green Bus Tour occasions and finally, inconsolable, drove 200 miles to attend his Memorial.

“Never separate the life you live from the words you speak," said Paul, and that was Mom, start to finish.

My parents also helped deliver their local rural white caucus for Barack Obama  -- the man who shared my Mom's Audacity of Hope. My parents came to the Twin Cities to watch returns and celebrate Election 2008 with us -- it was such a joyous day. So unsurprisingly, among the many many laments of my brother was this -- "There is one less vote for Obama."

I told him not to worry -- I will bring 100 more...

For Mom.

But I think there is a larger political message here too  -- one so much bigger than party politics and artificial boundaries. The message of Mom is one of generosity and fairness, of possibility and justice, of openness and faith in the ultimate goodness of people. Although Mom was a Lutheran and the tribute below is influenced by the New Testament, please take these words as she did -- not as One Way absolutes, but as ethical guideposts that transcend the tight boxes so many try to construct. That will be the spirit in which the many will come, from all over everywhere, from all races, ethnicities, classes, sexual orientations, religions, from all walks of life -- Small White Lutheran Town Minnesota will be a sea of diversity today.

If that isn't political, then nothing is.

Wellstone was right  --"In the last analysis, politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. Politics is what we do. Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine."

And Mom was right too.

So I am off now - to honor and celebrate my Mom - off to politic today, in my own way.

Off to politic in Mom's way.


And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, Love. But the greatest of these is Love.               1 Corinthians 13:13

Thank you for being with us today to celebrate and honor the life and true spirit of Barbara.

My father, my brother and I have lucky lives and in great part that is due to Mom. There are a million and more stories of wonderful times – more stories, more happiness than there is time to tell..

It sounds cliché - but today it is true. Words can truly not convey our love for Barbara, wife, friend to you, to me, just Mom, and to my niece, simply B.

We are indebted.

But words - those of Mom herself and those that others have used to describe her – words are all we have today…. And as inadequate as they will surely be, I hope they are at least enough.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews11:1

Trust is one of the words – used to describe my Mom.. She always had trust – had faith – in Us. “Use your own discretion Nancy “ – she’d say .. “Do what you think is right”.. It didn’t matter if we were 4 or 14 or 40 – Mom always believed we would make the right call. She believed we would look clearly and stand - stand all alone if we must – for what was true and fair and just. She gave us the strength; she gave us the freedom to be Who We Were.

That trust, that faith was rooted in hope, the hope that good will always triumph over evil, the hope that peace defeats war, the hope that life defies the grave.

 And yes, Faith Hope and Love – these three abide - but the greatest of these is indeed love. Ultimately, Mom’s trust was grounded in unconditional, unswerving love. Mom’s life was a life of love – love of nature -- of birds and flowers and cats and dogs, all creatures – “god was in the lady bug “ she said - love of community, love of music, especially my brother’s , love of friends and family, her parents, Bill and Blanche, all of us, and yes love of strangers. Her love her joy her spirit shown through like a sunbeam – drawing in those she knew, as well as those she did not.

‘I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'   Matthew 25:36-37

Mom had the gift of empathy, the gift of compassion. Her life was one of service and caring --- food, gifts, cards and letters, visits to the sick and to the well, to those who celebrated and those who were grieving. She was a bright light in the world.

As all of you know, her hospitality and generosity had a far-reach. Everyone was Welcome with a hug and that big smile..

Yet Mom was also clear that in much of the world, this was not the case.. “They can’t see the forest for the trees” –she would say -- urging us to look at the bigger picture, the patterns, the trends, the unspoken under-currents too. She was the first sociologist I ever knew. Mom saw that the day to day judgments and actions of others shaped a world that was often unfair.

Mom sometimes talked of a church event where a mysterious man appeared asking to be fed. He was refused. “What if that was jesus ??” she said “ And he was turned away?”

She called us to attend to that. In the face of the less fortunate, Mom would often say -- “There but for the grace of god go i…” This was never meant as a judgment but rather as an acknowledgment of great blessings and privilege, with humility and gratitude in the face of that. Most importantly, this was the recognition of responsibility; this was a call to action. To whom Much is Given -- Much then is Expected.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only  James 1:22

There are so many more words we could say about Barbara – as my father said – “How could you choose just one word to describe her??”  

 Wise. Loyal. Strong. Positive. Unselfish. Devoted. Radiant. Kind. Happy.

You all have your own words for her – hold on to those, reflect on those.

It is hard to comprehend that is Mom not physically present today, but as was said to the women – and it is always the women – at the tomb of jesus --“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Mom will always be with all of us… She touched everyone she met; she is a profound example of how life should be lived. Carry that on.

So if you love some people, tell them everyday. If you believe in some people, that faith will make them strong. And if you hope for a better world, then live to make it so.

Let us go forth and be as great as Barbara believed we could be.

Let us all go forth and be forces for good.

Thank you Mom….


Courtesy of my brother...

"Song without Borders" was premiered by the United Nations and we were all there, as guests of the world that day..

Mom and Dad sat with the UN Dignitaries  -- exactly where they needed to be. :)

Thank you for reading/listening... Be blessed everyday with Faith Hope and Love....

United Nations August 19, 2008

Originally posted to Abolition! on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 06:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and The Grieving Room.

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