Monday, December 26, 2022

Anne's Celebration

Attended by over a thousand people, Anne's funeral captured what she would have liked. The kids' eulogies, posted below, shared stories and highlighted important moments in their mom's life. 

Watching Rob walk down the center aisle following priests wobbled my knees when I saw that he carried Anne's urn. I'd never seen the spouse do that before. And Rob being Rob, when he spied a long-time friend who had traveled to the funeral, he side-stepped to the man and gave him a quasi-fist pump while balancing Anne. Victoria commented on her dad's risky move later on at the reception. She sounded like her mother... cracked me up. 

Anne's death at such a young age is painful, but watching Rob, Tyler, Ryan, and Victoria negotiate their grief left me feeling empty and sad. The private reception for about 200 gave friends, colleagues, and family (Anne has 7 siblings) a chance to share stories and take a breath. 

A few days after the funeral, I asked Rob if I could post an announcement of Anne's death on Facebook. "No wheelchair photos," he said. "She wouldn't like that." 


Facebook, December 13, 2022:

Our families lost a beautiful soul this past week. A mom, wife, and nana, Anne held many titles. But at this time in her life, some of us believe she loved the role of nana best. It may have been that in her grandbabies’ eyes she could see her own children’s tomorrows. Love to Rob, Tyler, Ryan, and Victoria.



I had one picture taken with Tyler and Ryan, and forgot to follow up with Iris Anne's mom, Victoria. Shameful... what kind of uncle am I? 

Here's a picture I like that I borrowed from Victoria's Facebook page. 
I know, that doesn't make up for my reception faux pas, but they look beautiful. 

The day after the funeral, Rob and I went to a favorite spot of Anne's since she'd been ill. Crystal Cove State Park provides beach wheelchairs with balloon tires. Rob would push her up and down the beach for up to 5 miles. We did lunch there.



Good morning, everyone. Thank you for celebrating our mom today. I’m Tyler, the oldest. 

As the oldest girl of 8 siblings, mom had a minor obsession: she wanted people to look their best.  During elementary school, my mom would line up her sisters and best friend Louise. She’d fix up their hair and tidy their uniforms before entering. That passion for being one’s best never left. When mom visited her youngest brother Matt at his college, she took one look at his clothes, and off they went to the mall. Mom’s always been a caretaker, from the clothes we wear to the words we use.  As a side note, I inherited my Uncle Matt’s fashion genes… Fortunately, my mom picked out the suit I’m wearing today. (Pause, laughter)

Mom was goal oriented. Her brother Joe tells the story of biking to school with her when a neighbor’s dog attacked. Uncle Joe did the smart thing and bolted down a side alley… but NOT mom. Determined to get to class on time, she dropped her head and peddled straight toward the school with that dog nipping at her ankles. (Pause, laughter)

For obvious reasons, mom wasn’t a fan of dogs. But when Dad put his foot down (air quotes “begged for a dog”) Mom let little Max into our lives …. she knew the little ball of fur made my dad and her three  kids happy. 

Mom balanced all of it: family, us kids, lifelong friendships, medicine, my dad’s love for adventure and fun, and her passion for hiking, biking, reading, and country music concerts. Her brother Steve shares a story that showcases mom’s ability to handle it all: She’s serving as chief resident at UCI, dad’s on the road for work, and I’m 8 weeks old. She needs a babysitter. She calls Uncle Steve who’s living in the dorms at Long Beach State. 

“Any classes this afternoon?” she asks. 
“No,” he says. 
“I’m dropping Tyler off in 30 minutes.” 
Mom did her rounds, Steve walked me all over the place for four hours and earned pizzas for his friends and him from his big sister… and I survived. 

My Mom made all of us feel safe, especially when we were at our most vulnerable. Her sister Aileen recalls the Murphy kids and their friends playing at the local park one evening. As darkness crept in, the babysitter never showed. The little kids grew wide-eyed and scared–––– Instinctively, Mom brought all of them together into a huddle, comforting them, while waiting for a parent. 

In 6th grade, I went to a week-long science camp. As a confident 12-year-old, I knew I could handle it… (Pause.) Turns out, I couldn’t. (Pause, smile) Homesick and crying, I received a phone call from mom. Her words that evening brought me peace… they always have. I imagine she’s shared those comforting words with her patients, with friends dealing with a rough patch in their lives, and with young doctors.  Mom’s always been a caretaker. 

Mom had a deep sense of responsibility. She also felt compelled to provide for others, even when it wasn't necessary.  In her last weeks, I mentioned my plan to take Andrea out to dinner. At this point in her life with ALS, I had become very good at reading her facial expressions. I could tell she had something to say, so I got the alphabet card out that we used to communicate, and she slowly spelled out AMEX by nodding her head at each letter as I went through them. “You want me to use your Amex?” Her eyes lit up and she gave a subtle nod. (Pause.) My mom wanted to treat us to dinner.  She always got so much joy for providing for others, especially us kids, spouses, and grandkids. 

You may have read in her obituary that my Mom delivered thousands of babies and climbed ginormous mountains. It’s true, Anne Kent really was a force. But as I stand here today, I picture her on the playground in a group hug with her brothers and sisters, and I hear her soft, calming voice telling my 12-year-old self that I’ll be okay.  

I love you, mom.  


Thank you for coming today, everyone. We’re honored. 

You may have read in her obituary that our Mom was accomplished. I guarantee she wouldn’t like me bragging about her, but here I go: Everything she did, she did at her highest level. She didn’t just go to UCLA, she graduated magna cum laude. She didn’t just join Kappa, she became president. In medical school at UC Davis, she was AOA… basically top of her class, and in residency at UCI, she was chief resident… What a legacy. 

But was she perfect? (Pause, smile) Let me take you back to my 5th-grade science project. (People may laugh.) 

Apparently, mom had just read a medical journal paper highlighting the potential antibiotic properties of dandelions… Weird, I know. And mom being mom she thought recreating a peer-reviewed science project would be the perfect science fair project for her 11-year-old son.  (Pause, audience laughter)

Before I could even finish saying, “Ok,” Dr. Kent was on the phone with the lab ordering blood agar petri dishes, dandelion pulp, and vials of e. coli.  You can probably see where this is going. (Pause, audience laughter/smile)

We spent the next two weeks going to her office after work to do experiments with bacteria and dandelions. My job was to take the petri dishes in and out of the incubator and my mom did everything else. 

I want to remind you that I was 11, and I literally had no idea whatsoever what we were doing. But I was having a blast doing science with my mom. I ended up getting second place—well, we ended up getting second place (Pause, audience laughter)—probably because the judge saw right through us. My mom was so proud. 

A few weeks ago, my mom and I had good laugh about our 5th-grade science project. She admitted that she had gone just a little bit overboard. Perfect? No… but a dedicated mom? You bet.  

A role model for the three of us, Mom led by example. She never had to tell us stories about how hard she worked---we saw it every single day. I wouldn’t say my mom had a “work-life balance,” but somehow, she managed to put both her work AND her family first. 

As kids, we remember her up at all hours of the night making runs to the hospital, but we also remember her being at ALL of our sporting events… usually in scrubs, sometimes late, but always there. 

I remember a particular Christmas Eve and she was on-call at the hospital. She snuck home to cook a full-course Christmas Eve dinner then ran back to the hospital to deliver babies all night, then back home that morning just in time for presents like nothing ever happened. 

If you’ve ever read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, you may remember this quotation (Pause a moment): 

“Work is love made visible.”

I think the author may have known our mom. 

Only now as a new parent can I fully appreciate how desperately hard it can be to excel both at home and in your career. My Mom figured it out. When I find myself in a tough situation at work, I stop and think “What would mom do?” The answer is always put your head down and get to work.

I will forever remember Mom walking through the door after a long day at work in her light blue scrubs and bright-white Chuck Taylors. She always had a big smile because she was coming from one place she loved to the other. 

Miss you mom, love you.


Good morning. I’m Victoria, the favorite. (Pause, smile)

I loved hearing Tyler and Ryan’s stories. We all have our own. My mom may have been a calming presence, a confidant, a learned colleague, or a voice of reason for any number of us gathered here today. What I’ve noticed most about my mom, and for that matter my dad, is how they’ve always put others before themselves. 

When my mom received her ALS diagnosis, I didn’t take the news well. Like most kids, I thought my mother was invincible. I told her it wasn’t fair and cried out, “Why you?” She looked me square in the eye and said, “Why not me?” My mom was a force., and she shared that strength with all of us. 

In her own way, mom was invincible. She could be at her brother’s 50th birthday party in Lake Tahoe on a Wednesday evening and hop a red eye to the backwoods of Maine for her daughter’s engagement party on Thursday. And believe me, after a 6-hour overnight flight and a 3-hour drive, she showed up looking perfect.  

I’ve been with my mom countless times when she’s run into her patients at the market, the movie theater, or on vacation. Some of us might say a quick “Hello,” and pass on by. But not Dr. Kent! She loved seeing her patients ----- being a doctor was her calling and an absolute privilege.  

She loved being a mother. She was the type of mom who would warm up your car at 5am before water polo practice or throw an all-out, 9-course birthday party celebration with all the bells and whistles making you feel like the most important person in the world. Two days before she passed, Mom was still at it. She helped Josh and me track down the Thanksgiving Turkey recipe squirreled away in a special cookbook. 

My mom was stubborn. Now, you may not think of this trait as an attribute, but in our family, it is.  And she had this look that immediately told my brothers, dad, and me to get in line. And believe me, we did. 

Beautiful and wickedly smart, a great listener who could commanded a room, she was the ultimate rule follower who fell in love with a kind-hearted, fun-loving rule braker. Dad, while taking care of mom, you kept her laughing and smiling until the day she passed. One thing was clear to her as you adjusted her pillows or wheeled her through thick beach sand: She was loved. 

For those who don’t know, ALS leads to muscle failure. At the end, mom could no longer move or speak, but trust me, she was 100% there. About a year ago, the day after I got home from the hospital after giving birth to Iris, I prepared to help my mom with her make up. We had our routine. Dad would help with showers, and I would do her hair and makeup. We called ourselves her Glam Squad. 

As I pulled out her makeup bag, my mom started typing with one finger on her iPad. She wrote, “Simultaneously.” Confused, I looked at her… she looked at the makeup and then, raising her eyebrows, at my tired face. I’d been up all night with a newborn. Enough said. We did our make up together. She wrote, “You feel better?” and truthfully, I did. That was the Anne Kent way. No matter how tired you are or if you’ve been up all-night delivering babies, there’s nothing a shower and a little make up can’t fix.  

When the final stages of ALS took over and my mom could no longer walk out the door to the hospital or go on a hike with friends––she could be present for those who came into the beautiful home our parents created. George Fisher came to deliver the Eucharist and say the rosary; dear BeeGee helped with her care, siblings and friends stopped by. During these times, she refrained from pain meds to be fully present for everyone… especially her grandchildren.  No one in the world made my mom smile brighter than Hudson, Calvin, Luke, and Iris Anne. We think her role as Nana may have been her favorite. 

Mom, I miss you dearly. You called me your angel… Now, you’re mine. 

I love you forever. We all do.   

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