Leilani Wright

My mom, Leilani Wright, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on June 14, 2023. Below is the eulogy I read at her wake on June 21, 2023. It pales in comparison to the beautiful words my sister read prior to me, and doesn’t even begin to do justice to the wonderful, caring, brilliant, and selfless person my mother was.

Leilani Wright


Anybody who has ever crossed paths with my mom has immediately gotten to know her generosity. She gave so much of her self to care for others. It enriched her spirit as well as the recipients mind and body (often literally).

It’s hard to pick a single story that exemplifies this because there were a million little moments of care. Some were bigger than others, but more often than not, it was something small that made an enormous difference. A few that come to mind are:

  • Feeding one of our friends that she had only just met
  • Innumerable trips to help with settle a new home or help a new parent
  • Too many meals to count. I think most of the people here have had a Lani Wright meal in their freezer at some point. If I’m being honest, we still do.
  • Making clothes for others who had a special occasion, couldn’t find something specific, or just couldn’t afford it
  • Making dozens of blankets, clothing items, and stuffed animals for her children and granchildren. When Melissa and I were first dating, she made for me a Boston College motif blanket that was specifically for “one-and-a half people”.

I’m sure each person here has 50 more memories of my mom’s generosity, done simply as a labor of love. And when it came to food, Lani wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

First Love Language: Food

Food was mom’s love language. She loved to cook and experiment with her own spin on recipes. In many ways, food was a gateway to resolving problems. It got us to sit down together and talk. Everybody gets hungry eventually and she was always able to summon her family to the table.

It was rare for her house to have anything short of 40 pounds of pasta on hand. Just in case there was an emergency that required feeding an entire cross-country team, or I was around for Saturday night dinner. If Lani Wright were in charge, world hunger would never have been an issue.

Second Love Language: Embarrassment

Another “love language” for mom was embarrassing her children. That manifested many, many, many ways. Whether she was feigning belief in conspiracy theories, making some of the best/worst wordplay you’ve ever heard, playing the martyr because I got a tattoo, or delighting in having mistaken drug paraphernalia for an exotic cooking utensil at a NYC street fair, she was doing it with a kind love that only she was capable of.

Her sharp, subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle wit always evoked a smile, laugh, or grown (often, all three). I fondly remember many dinners and late night conversations around the kitchen table, laughing until my sides hurt and tears streamed down my face.

“Okay, Lani”

Everyonce in a while, maybe more often than I’d like, I or Keelia will do something that result in my wife, Melissa, saying “Okay, Lani” as if mom were standing there instead. We often observe our children doing something their grandmother would have, like organizing a selection of spice jars in a store or making something new out of something old.

I hope that never changes, because it is definitive proof that she lives on in her family.