My Eulogy For My Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)

My mom loved desserts, and these were some of her favorites

My mom loved desserts, and these were some of her favorites

On Sunday, we celebrated the life of my mom, Gail Schlachter. We had a full house of about 80 people. We did some readings, said the Mourner’s Kaddish, had some eulogies, watched a slideshow (with “(I Had) The Time of My Life” playing over it, per my mom’s request), reviewed and commented on her life timeline, and ate her favorite desserts. I hope to post the slideshow soon.

I will be posting some of the eulogies here. We asked speakers to limit themselves to 5 minutes (which, I believe, everyone respected), so that will help explain why mine seems so brief. There were a thousand different ways I could have taken the eulogy, so I found this one of the hardest projects to write that I’ve faced for some time. Here’s what I ended up with:


I want to thank you for coming here today. I know many of you made special efforts to be here, and that means a lot to us.

My mom raised my sister and me as a single parent. This fact defines our identity. For my mom, it meant many years of extra sacrifices, above and beyond the sacrifices that parents typically make. I still can’t figure out how she did it—and I was there! For my sister and me, it meant she had to be both our mom and dad. Still, there always seemed to be enough love to fill the whole household.

Today, we might call my mom a Tiger Mom. She would tell me daily to “Get All As,” even years after my graduation. Getting all As wasn’t a goal or a request, it was an expectation. No matter how proud I made my mom with my achievements, I always knew she expected even more from me. For 47 years, I have been striving to meet those high expectations, and I’ll keep trying for the rest of my life. So although my mom’s direct contributions to the world have come to an end, Sandy and I (and our children) will continue to extend her legacy with the accomplishments we have yet to make, guided by the values and lessons we got from her.

A couple of days ago, I spoke with a woman who bought a book right before my mom’s death and didn’t understand why the book hadn’t arrived. She had a surprising undercurrent of desperation in her voice. I realized she hadn’t just bought a book; she had bought a key that she hoped would help unlock her professional and personal dreams. Without that key, her dreams might be unobtainable. The book didn’t cost that much, but it was an incredibly high-stakes purchase for her.

Multiply this story by many tens of thousands of other readers of the books, and my mom’s true legacy becomes clearer. With each reader who improved his or her professional skills and knowledge through their education paid for with help from the books, my mom’s books helped enhance society’s storehouse of human capital. Indirectly, then, all of us have benefited from a society made richer by my mom’s books.

My mom often described herself as “small but mighty,” and today we remember her mighty impact on me, on our family, on our community, and on the world at large. Thank you again for coming today to help us celebrate her life and her memory.

There will be another memorial service for Gail Schlachter at the ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, June 28, 5 pm.

Blog Posts About Gail Schlachter Hauser’s Death

* From my wife: Gail Schlachter, My Mother-in-law, Remembered
* Selected Remembrances of Gail Schlachter Hauser (1943-2015)
* My First Mother’s Day Without My Mom (Gail Schlachter Hauser 1943-2015)
* Signs That My Mom Is Still Thinking of Us (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* My Mom’s Idea of a “Really Good Day” (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* Initial Reflections on Losing a Parent (Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015)
* My Mom Died: Gail Schlachter Hauser, 1943-2015