Memorial Remarks of Richard Zorza, Rosemary's Son

(Reconstructed from speaker's notes)

I thought that my mother had prepared me for everything in life, but she did not prepare me for this.


There was to my mother a wholeness that I think she brought to every interaction with everyone of us.

Among the words that I find best describe that wholeness include the depths of her for compassion and connection to people, the strength of her vision and her anger at the world; the depth of her achievements and skill, and her capacity of appreciation and fulfillment in life.

Compassion and Connection.  Let me tell you one of my first memories.  I must have been four or five, and she is reading me the old folk rhyme:  "Please put a penny in the old man's hat.  If you haven't got a penny, a halfpenny will do.  If you haven't got a halfpenny, a farthing will do.  And if you haven't got a farthing, then God bless you."

So, being a four year old, I ask why?  What does this mean?  And I've remembered her answer all my life.  It was something like this:  "You know, that people who have less money generally are better people."

My mother was always there with people as they themselves were.  Many of the notes that have come in for the web site have been people recalling that when they were teenagers, she saw the good in them that they did not see themselves.  She made a lot of difference in a lot of lives.

In the last few days, I found myself worrying if my mother knew how loved she was.  Eventually I realized that that was a silly question.  If anything is sure about Rosemary it is that she was not keeping score about who loved her.  She was too busy thinking about what other people needed, and how she could help them get that.

Vision and Anger.  My mother carried a strong picture of the way the world should  be.  And she was very angry that the world was not that way.

But the amazing thing about her was that she managed to carry at the same time both this clear anger and a strong compassion for everyone in the world, including those who had done less than they might to make the world the way it should be.

Achievement and Skill.  Many of you in this audience may not know that my mother was the author of two books.  My mother was not the kind of person who felt you needed to know about her achievements. 

There was the book about my sister's death in a hospice, for which she did at least her share of she writing, and for which my mother provided the moral core.

And there was the pottery book, about which I will say more later.

One of the other things that people keep referring to in their messages to me is that they still have her pottery around, and that they have been holding it a lot these last few days.

My mother always presented herself as muddling through in that very English way.  She gave this impression of being hopeless at mathematics.  And I used to believe it.  Until I though about this other story about her.

During World War II she was a supply officer for her unit, which was all very well, but it turned out that when she took this over, there were not records.  And then it turned out that the auditors were coming to check up on the paperwork.  So she set about faking the entire records of the entire unit, even using different pens for different signatures and the like.  And the auditors came and everything was fine

That's not the end of the story.  Next it turned out that a different unit had the same problem.  So Mum was "lent" to that unit to fake their books too.  Again no problem.  So much for the no good at math theory.

Appreciation and Fulfillment.  My mother believed in a better world.  But she also knew how to appreciate this one.

My son -- stepson -- Arloc remembers how one day Rosemary came in to to tell Peter that the fish was cooked.  "Peter, darling," she began, "the pink on the salmon is like the first blush of dawn in the spring."

My mother died, as Christine put it, with no unfinished business with anyone.  "You always knew where you stood with Rosemary."

Most important of all, was the fulfillment that she found with Peter in the last years of her life.  She was deeply happy and we are all full of thanks to Peter and his family for making that happen.

I want to close by reading a few words of my mother's from her book on pottery.

"We take from clay what we need and give what we can.  The incoherent can express themselves vividly through the medium of clay, the voluble learning something of silence, and the tense relax.  Its all very therapeutic and fulfilling."

So was she.  And so she will remain.

An Additional Note:

Lest anyone be confused by my mother's human sympathy for everyone into thining she lacked absolute moral clarity, let me add this story.

When I was seventeen, a week after I passed my driving test, I knocked over a woman on a pedestrial cross-walk.  The next day, my mother went to visit the woman in hospital, and told me where to go to visit her too.

I must have demurred, because I remember to this day the clear simple way she responded.  "Richard, you have to go."  And that was that.

I doubt that my going to see the woman helped her much, but it certainly cemented in me my mother's deep understanding of how we are all humanly connected and all responsible for what we do.