Thoughts on Saying Goodbye to My Mom

This past Christmas, we said goodbye to my mother. Eileen Skane Ryder passed away on December 20th at Davis Health Care Center; she was 90 years young.


Mom and Dad Back in the Day

Born in New York, NY, Mom spent most of her life in Connecticut. Despite a difficult childhood, Mom achieved great success in life both personally and professionally.

She was a career woman throughout the 70’s – a very successful, award-winning real estate agent.  Then, in 1981, she helped my father found Matchmaker Logistics.

In 1990, Mom and Dad moved the family business to Wilmington where they later retired. (You can read more about Matchmaker’s history here.) Mom was also an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church, a Eucharistic minister, and a volunteer for Lower Cape Fear Hospice.

The memorial service for Mom was held on December 27th, and I gave a eulogy. As her obituary read: “Vivacious would be an understatement when describing Eileen. Her big smile, great laugh and bright red hair made her impossible to ignore and a joy to be around.”  Indeed, Mom’s charismatic spirit was a beacon for many – she always lit up a room with her joyful heart and generous spirit.

But as I said at the service, the thing that I will miss most is the way she looked at me.  She did much more than make eye contact; Mom would study your face as if she was reading your emotions and looking for any signs of sadness or worry. All the while, she would smile from her mouth up through the wrinkle in her nose, sending love beams out of her eyes.
You could not help but feel better when around her.

Being smart and beautiful certainly contributed to all of her success in life, but I think the way she fully engaged others, making everyone feel important, was the biggest factor. Because you see, she didn’t just bless her children, grandchildren, and family members with “the look” – she gave it to everyone.

This past fall, her nursing home asked me to sign a waiver so they could use her image in an advertisement. I imagined Mom would be in a group shot with other residents on the back page of a brochure.  I should have known she would end up being the star of the show!

Mom appears in a TV commercial for the nursing home. Seated on a bench, she is approached by a nurse.  Mom raises her gaze and simply beams at the young lady.  As I watched the commercial, I could not help but think what an easy job the director must have had that day!  There was no acting involved on Mom’s part; that’s just the way she was.


As much as we miss her, our family knows that having had her in our lives was an incredible gift.  We were very fortunate. And, by any measure, her’s was a life well lived.