A memory of my mom I delivered at her memorial service on August 26, 2018 at Faith Lutheran Church, Vista, California.
Let me start by saying I was pretty sure I could stand up here and talk about my mom without crying, but…I could be wrong.
Greta Trygstad was our mom. But she was much more that that. She was many things to many people. To her mom and dad, she was Peanut, the littlest kid, who needed a special boost now and then to grow up healthy and whole. She was a loyal and good friend; if Greta was your friend, you had a friend for life. She married a man who by nature was a gentle man, but it was her love that knocked off the rough edges and made him a gentleman. To that man—our Dad—she was the love of his life, and his #1 supporter in his careers. To her church, she was a pillar of LWML, and Vacation Bible School, the maker of Chrismons, and many other things. To Cub Scouts, she was a Den Mother. To PTA, she was a leader and a publicity chair. To her San Dieguito High classmates, she was one of the folks that held them together and brought them together. She was an artist, a craftsman, a wordsmith, and a chef. She worked tirelessly for children and adults with special needs, and for anyone who’s life she could make better.
She was not just mom to me and my brother and sister. She was mom to all our friends, who would come to her for help even when we were not around. She was mother to our neighborhood, for all the kids who needed a mother. She was the mother to stray young Marines, and young employees of our Dad’s, and grandmother to some of their children. She welcomed and fed anyone who crossed her threshhold. She let her whole family—parents, siblings, children, and adopted children—know that they were always welcome for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, along with any strays any of us wanted to bring. And we brought friends, neighbors, classmates, shipmates, convicted murderers, all kinds of folks. Mom believed as Jesus did that a table was to be shared with all.
Greta—our mom—wasn’t perfect. She let her politics be swayed by demagogues. She loved wine, and occasionally would imbibe to much. She smoked too much. But her flaws were minor, and the care she had for others far outweighed them. She lived her life selflessly, never failing to put others ahead of herself. We are so lucky to be her children, because she raised us to be selfless, to be unprejudiced, to put others ahead of ourselves, and to raise our children to be the same. In many ways, we all wish we could be her.
Mom had great sayings. When me and all the neighborhood kids starting getting on her nerves, she would look at us with a smile and say, “Why don’t you kids take a box of measles and go play on the freeway?” She used to want to go hunting naugas…you know, the animals that naugahide comes from. We had a car that used to audibly say “The door is ajar.” She would argue with it: “No, it’s not a jar; it’s a door.” If things were the same, it was always “six of one, half dozen of the other.” Once mom went to buy some underwear for our dad; the clerk asked if she wanted white or nude. She told him “Nude? No, white. My husband is so modest he goes into the next room to change his mind.” And puns. Greta NEVER missed an opportunity to make a pun. It’s rubbed off on us; if you look at me and my sons, you’ll see that in our family, family ties means family…ties. I really wanted to stand up here and remember her entirely in puns, but despite my genetic disposition to punning, I was never near as good as punning as mom–and I though it might be too much pun-ishment for all of you.
Greta was a woman of faith. Before we settled here at Faith Lutheran when I was eight, she used to take me to Sunday School at the Base Chapel wherever my dad was stationed. And her faith was a faith of action. She believed that when Jesus ascended to heaven, he left all of us to be his hands and feet, and she took that charge seriously. Mom’s belief in the Gospel of Jesus was never an intellectual or emotional exercise, but was was rather a call to her personally to act on His behalf.
I honestly have no way to wrap this up. I did write something out here, but I could stand up here and talk about Greta Trygstad—our mom—for hours. But I don’t think I’m saying anything to you about our mom that you don’t already know. We love her. We will all miss her. Thank you all for being with us today to remember her life.
Greta’s Obituary (San Diego Union-Tribune).
Slide show presentation of Greta’s life in pictures, as shown before her service and at the meal following.
Or you can download the video (582,826 KB).