The Eulogy I wrote and read for my mama’s funeral.
By Christine Joy Amagan Ferrer
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2
One of the things my mother struggled with the most, was with her mind.
Nonetheless, my mama was a lover, a fighter and an overcomer.
I learned that at a young age.
It was the summer of 1995, I was 10 years old, and my mother had her first stroke. It paralyzed her right side. I thought I was gonna lose her then. I had never prayed so hard in my life. But, it wasn’t her time. She said to me later, “I thought I was gonna die too. But, I remembered I had you. So, I couldn’t go yet. I was in that hospital bed and I told my toes to move. It may have taken me a while, but eventually, they did.”
That was my mama.
She’d let me climb the tallest trees, dig in the sand for hours to find sandcrabs, scribble in all her checkbooks, brought me to all the SF tourist attractions I wanted to go to, repeatedly– the zoo, the aquarium, the museum, Pier 39, Twin Peaks, the mall, Toys R Us, Balboa Park, the Exploratorium, to ride the carousel in Golden Gate Park or slide down those cardboard box slides, to Pier 39, to the arcade that use to be there, to Disney on Ice, the Disney Store, out shopping, to Waterworld, Calistoga, to Ocean Beach, Sutro Bathes, to the movies, and especially, McDonalds’ and KFC. She even let me bike around the corner to Cayuga park by myself when I was only 7 years old and we lived on Mt. Vernon. She let me have a dog, a cat, a rabbit, encouraged my singing, my dancing… my mother never blocked my creativity or my imagination, she always let me be me, wild and free.
From ages 4 to 14, it had been just my mom, my lola (my grandmother) and I, until my sister and her family moved in when my grandmother died to help with my mom. Throughout the years, I often wondered how life would be if I would have had a “regular” mom, or healthier mom that hadn’t always been so sick. I must have been angry with her hundreds of times. Frustrated that I had to be her “mom.” Frustrated that I had to help calm her down when she saw bugs that weren’t physically there, crawling up the walls, on her back, in her clothes, on her body. Frustrated when she was paranoid of people watching her or stealing her stuff. Frustrated that I had to give her medication daily. Frustrated that she wouldn’t let go of the demons of her past, that she held so tightly to–her fears, anxiety, pain, regret, trauma–which made it difficult for her to heal herself.
But that was her journey to experience and overcome. And, she was the exact mama I needed. Finally, understanding that, brought me so much healing and helping to care for no longer became a chore.
Because we loved and cared for her unconditionally, over the years, her heart softened, her mind opened, and her sweetness sweetened. And even in her last years, when she became immobile and even lost her voice, I would walk into her room, and say, “Hi, mama” and I would know her love, by the way she smiled at me.
They said about two years that she had only three weeks to live. I thought I was gonna lose her again. She had another stroke. And now, a growing thyroid gland. So we took her home, with hospice care, fed her a plant-based diet of organic pureed fruits and veggies that my sister would make everyday since she couldn’t swallow whole foods. My siblings even weaned her off pharmaceutical medication. No doubt this love and care, contributed to why she lived so much longer than they said she would.
A few months ago, my brother and I decided we were going to take her out to the beach every week. She’d been inside for so long. It made no sense for her to be stuck inside anymore, inside the four walls of her bedroom. It was time to bring wellness and wholeness back into her life. Another step in her healing process. I wanted her to breathe in that fresh air, feel the wind on her face, the sun on her eyes, commune with mama nature, experience the vastness and the beauty of the ocean itself again… before her time came for her spirit to become one with it all. It was also a dope bonding moment for my brother and I. It had been too difficult for just one of us siblings to do it by ourselves anymore.
There was a time, when it was just me and mama. I took her out regularly, on adventures in her wheelchair, hustling on public transportation. I had to return the favor, so I brought her to many of the same places she took me to as a child and often to the beach. The wellness and joy that this brought my mama… you could see it all over her face. Being in nature lifted her spirits and mood, even back in the day when she refused to leave the house and she still had the strength to fight me, I would make her go anyway because I knew that once we got outside… a peace would come over her that surpassed all understanding.
This time I knew. At 78 years old, my mama took her last deep exhale at 11:11 PM with her head in my hands and her hands in my brother’s, at home. I was kissing her forehead. She took three deep breaths after rapid breathing. During her final breath, my brother said, “Do you see lola, lolo, ninang, ninong, Tiff…? Go to them.” Then, a big smile swept across her face. It was such an incredible and powerful moment for my brother and I to witness. Even though it was a heavy thing, I feel as though I was preparing for that moment for almost all my life. After 26 years of illness, she’s healed and free.
Healing also comes in the letting go. Healing comes in the unknown. We must release, to receive, to manifest, to transform, to create. And, therefore death is a holy, powerful thing. Just as much as birth. To make room for new beginnings, death must happen. Just like how flowers die, and then bloom again. That is the cycle of all things. We can no longer dwell in old stories, and old narratives, we’ve created for ourselves that no longer serve who we are in this present moment. Within us, as children of the Creator, as creators ourselves, we carry the wisdom of the ages, all we have to do is listen. They say choose life. Instead, I choose life and death. Death to what was and the chains that once bound. Death to a mind that couldn’t trust and a heart that couldn’t heal. Death to a spirit that didn’t know how to live free. Death to the in-authentic self. Death to patterns of ancestral trauma. Death to all that no longer serves us. So, we can live. And just like Christ, we can rise again.
I know you can hear me now. Because you’re truly free, by the power of love, in the arms of love. I see you, in the presence of The Divine, with our loved ones, our ancestors, with Christ. Thank you for everything. There is nothing about life with you that I would change. Thank you for dying the way that you did, because it brought my siblings and I closer than we’ve ever been. Helping to care for you, is how I learned to love unconditionally and love so deeply, because I knew there were many times where it was difficult for you to, so I had to, I also learned how to fight like hell with the fire, passion inside me when I need to, and you know I get that from you. And it’s now in your death, that I’ve learned just how powerful of a woman being I truly am. there is nothing that I can’t overcome. So when we bury you today, I will also bury what was, who I was, my old lifetime and everything that no longer serves me, so I can make room for new creation, expansion and abundance. And as you transition into this next beautiful, sacred chapter in your life, I will too. Because I know that this death will birth something more powerful than I have ever known, rooted in love, joy, and truth. I promise to continue to love and accept myself completely, with an open mind, heart and spirit and walk in everything I am. I will always seek the Divine and go within. Like you would sing, “Greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.” You are who you are, and because of you, I am that I am. I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind. Mahal na mahal kita, Nai. salamat sa lahat ng itinuro ninyo sa akin.’
Thank you all for your prayers, love and support, for my mama to transition peacefully and for the support of my family and I for all these years. And thank you to my friends, who’ve also been my family, for holding space with me. We couldn’t have done it without you. I also have so much love and admiration for my immediate fam, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews for holding it down. Love ya’ll. So now, we move forward. Because the best is yet to come.
Erlinda Balmania Amagan was born on April 28, 1943 in Silang, Cavite Philippines, daughter of Felisa Balmania and Anastascio Amagan. She was the youngest of three siblings, her sister Ermie and brother Earlito.
She graduated from the Philippine Women’s University with a B.A. in Business.
She married her hometown love, Godofredo Ferrer in November 5,1964 (mom 21, dad 25). They soon moved to America once he joined the U.S.Navy. They moved around to various parts of the U.S. Although she held various jobs throughout her lifetime, her primary focus was on being a mother and homemaker. Together they had three children: Jennifer, Eric and their youngest Christine, who was born after 16 years. They raised their two oldest children, Jennifer and Eric, in Norfolk, Virginia. Erlinda was so loving, friendly, very social and fashionable. She loved taking her kids shopping and attending social functions with her family.
In 1989, Erlinda separated from her husband after moving to San Francisco with her youngest daughter, Christine, to live with the rest of her family who had immigrated there from the Philippines.
Erlinda was a believer in Christ and God-fearing woman, heavily involved in her church communities in San Francisco, from Voice of Christ and Voice of Pentecost. She loved to sing and preach the Word of God, especially alongside her mother.
In 1995, at the age of 52, Erlinda suffered a stroke, which took a toll on her body, mind and spirit. She also battled mental health challenges, including schizophrenia, and other health issues over the years which enabled her from caring for herself. For years, she has been lovingly cared for by her family, at home. Her eldest, Jennifer has been the primary caregiver, who’s dedicated 22 years of life to our mother. But all her children have supported and cared for up until her very last breath.
Even in her struggle, she is known for her laughter, love of ice cream and eating. Her famous words of encouragement, “The best is yet to come.”
In Heaven, she now joins her mother, father, step-father, sister, brother-in-laws, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin and granddaughter, Tiffany Burnoksi.
With love and grace, she will be remembered by her children: Jennifer, husband Tom, Eric, and Christine; her grandchildren, Jamie and her husband John, Jonathan and his partner Malaysia, Joshua and his partner Odiana, Matthew and Elizabeth; her great-grandchildren: David, Aleia and Judah.
Her nieces and nephews: Ariel, Edwin, Edgar, Vangie, Ireese, J.R and their families
Her cousins on the Amagan family side, Dante Amagan and family; and Caberto side, John and family, Cindy and family, and Art’s children; ex-husband, Godofredo and a host of family friends and community over the years from Shiloh Church, Voice of Pentecost, Voice of Christ and Rock Church.