Eulogy by Wendy Dherin for her mother, Patricia Moran, October 3, 1939 – February 28, 2018
March 9, 2018
Kurt Vonnegut once said, “To anybody who can draw, the idea of putting the appearance of
anything into words is like trying to make a Thanksgiving dinner out of ball bearings and broken
glass.” If Vonnegut is right, and describing an image in words is next to impossible, how much more
impossible is it to describe the essence of a person in mere language? Summing up a soul in words — words that seem so scrawny and skeletal in comparison with a full-throated soul like Patricia Moran’s — it doesn’t do her justice. Not by a longshot.
But I have to say, the act of putting together her slideshow memorial, the act of looking through
all of her old photographs, some of which I’d never seen before — it gave me a deeper, more
wholistic sense of Pat Moranitude — the full-on smorgasbord that she was, the classic
Thanksgiving dinner of a woman that she was. And those pictures spoke a thousand words to
me. But for today, for now, I’ve had to whittle them down to just a few, to forge for you this
heartfelt little artifact depicting my mother, constructed out of ball bearings and broken glass.
Pat Moran was playful. The best indicator of whether or not you were in her good graces was
how much she teased you. She loved to joke around, and she loved to get as good as she
gave. The tit for tat, the repartee, she lived for it. She was a coquette, a total flirt. Wouldn’t you
be if you looked like her? One of her favorite songs was “Bette Davis Eyes,” and the line “She's
ferocious, and she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush” describes my mother’s saucy
side to a T.
Pat Moran was frugal. She was a penny-pincher, both in hard times and in easy times. At
home, if she saw a penny on the floor, she would pick it up and walk from room to room, asking,
in all seriousness, “Who lost a penny?” Her parents lived through the depression, and she felt it
— she lived to save money and find bargains. Anyone who knew Patricia Moran at all knew she
was a thrift store fanatic — something that embarrassed the heck out of us kids when we were
teenagers, and that awed us as adults. She was a master: she knew which thrift stores got fresh
deliveries and when. She would visit half a dozen thrift stores a day and would made great use
of her time. How? Because upon entering a store, she would lift her nose and cast her gaze
around, just like a hunter on the prowl, and if there was no hint of prey, she’d say, “There’s
nothing here, let’s move on.”
Pat Moran loved color. She had an eye for fashion and interior design, and a special penchant
for fall and earth tones. She redecorated her home from one room to the next, and, like the
painting of the Golden Gate Bridge, once she finished redecorating the entire house, she would
start again. Always shopping from thrift stores, of course, and always finding amazing items,
which, if they didn’t match the current decor, she would simply paint the new item to match.
Sometimes she’d even do the opposite — she would redecorate the entire room just to
coordinate it with the new prized purchase. When it came to outfits and shoes, she wore bold
colors and designs with flare. And if she didn’t have clip-on earrings to match the outfit, she’d
just whip out her paints, start mixing, and before you know it, she’d have a finely tuned,
ellcoordinated ensemble, and she’d wear it out with pride.
Pat Moran was adventurous. Despite an intense fear of flying, she flew to Russia, to
Amsterdam, to the UK, to Italy — bravely facing her anxieties because the desire to see the
world and experience new things outweighed her fears. Despite an even more intense fear of
heights, she white knuckled her way to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, just to see the view.
She loved California. It wasn’t something she talked about much, but it was a deep part of her.
Although she was born in Chicago, she spent most of her childhood and adult life in Calfornia,
primarily in the Bay Area. She grew up camping in the Fort Bragg and Mendocino area —
a ritual she would pass on to her own family when she had children. The savage, forested coast
was spectacular, and it was where I believe my mother felt truly home.
She was a good listener. When people came to her with their problems, she talked with them
at length about it, sometimes advising with brutal, tough-love honesty, but mostly just listening.
She felt truly honored when someone trusted her enough to pour out their heart to her — she
took it seriously and responded dutifully. And this is the quality I’m going to miss about her most.
For when it comes to being my confidante, my mirror, my touchstone, my anchor, no one will
ever be so qualified as my mother, Patsy, Patricia Anne Kane, Pat Moran, the woman who has
known me since before I was even born.
She is no more on this mortal plane, but I know, in some form, she lives on. I’ll see her in my
dreams, I’ll feel her at my side in my darker hours, I’ll hear her voice calling my name when it’s
my time to pass. I don’t know if I’ll see her in some kind of afterlife, but if I do, I’ll be grateful not
to have the age difference anymore. Because, especially having seen her in all of her ages, in
all of her glory, I think it would be a total blast to be her best friend.