Eulogy delivered by Art
Thanks for coming. Your support Tuesday and today has helped all of us through this difficult time. I’ve been warned by more than one member of the family not to make this too long. And, indeed, my first temptation was to tell you all about my Mother’s life. There’s simply too much to tell in a few minutes so I’m not even going to try. I’ll just try to share a few of the things that I will always remember.
It is an interesting story, of a poor Southern farm girl who got a Master’s from Northwestern and married a big city boy who went off to war a few months later. I will always remember that my Mom wrote a letter to my Dad every day that he was gone. For 37 months. Think about that. Every single day!
It’s a life of accomplishments. Mom raised three boys all of whom are married over 30 years and have children and grandchildren of their own. Probably her greatest accomplishment lies in the tremendous influence she had on her husband, kids and grandkids and her brothers and sisters. Everyone sought her counsel and we all owe much of who we are to Mom.
But beyond that she touched thousands of lives in so many meaningful ways. She was the ultimate teacher. Probably got started as a Sunday School teacher when she was 15. After she got her Master’s degree, she taught from 1940 until the late eighties, except for those few years she stayed home to start a family. Even during that time she was a Sunday school teacher, den mother, and Sunday School superintendent. Thousands of people remember her as one of the best teachers they ever had. As near as we can tell the last thing she ever wrote was a “lesson” for her Sunday School class last Sunday.
Mom “taught” informally all the time too. When Jill and I got married I had a stick shift car and Jill didn’t know how to drive it. I took her out once and realized this was not something a husband could teach a wife. I called Mom and she taught Jill how to drive stick in no time. Two weeks ago she “taught” Jill how to knit.
She spent nearly twenty years as a Hospice volunteer
serving countless families dealing with terminal illness and death. Using those
same skills she helped our family through many illnesses and deaths as well.
And, for much of that time she was a Stephen Minister here at our church. I
loved her attitude about helping other people. I’d ask her what she had done
for the day and she’d reply,
”I had to go take this little old man to the bank. He was kind of confused so I went to the teller window with him”. She told me this story just a few years ago. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that SHE is a little old lady.
We think of those who teach and those who learn as different people but Mom was a “learner” all her life. She learned computers, Spanish, cabinet making and steam cleaning your engine in her sixties. She learned to drive when she was 32, bowling in her late forties. My favorite example is about learning to ride a bike. She taught me to ride a bike in 1955 when I was 8. In 1970 when she was 51 she asked me to buy her a bike. I asked her why and she said she had never owned one and didn’t know how to ride one. I got her the bike and she taught herself to ride it.
Books and reading were a life long passion for Mom. She took each of us to the library for our library card as soon as we could print our names. One summer when I was home from college Mom and I did the Evelyn Woods speed reading course together. I practiced and got my speed up to what I thought was an incredible rate. Before I went back to college we took one last test and Mom beat me by a couple hundred words per minute. All my life I have relied on books and know that I got that from Mom.
A few years ago she asked all of us to get her an electronic keyboard so she could learn to play the piano. She took lessons, bought a lot of music and stuck with it until the end. I’m sure she played her keyboard the day before she died.
I mentioned the notes we found for last Sunday’s class. She was talking about her memories of the church. She said “I latched onto Phillipians 4-13 and never let go.” Phillipians 4-13 says “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. “ I guess maybe that’s what set Mom apart – the belief that she, or you, or me could do anything we set our minds to. She served as a model and an inspiration to so many people. She just wouldn’t let people give up; always rooted for the underdog. I suppose there were those who considered her too direct or too impatient or unreasonably optimistic. But it’s pretty likely that she motivated a lot of those people to accomplish things they wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise.
There’s no doubt we’ll all miss her a great deal. She’s been an integral part of our lives for so many years. The thing I’ll miss most is just talking to her, getting her opinion on things or asking her how to solve a problem, big or small. I’ve nearly picked up the phone to call her a dozen times these last few days.
I know a lot of you will miss her too. But let’s try not to focus on sadness and grief. She led a great life and accomplished so much. She was happy until the end. She wouldn’t have wanted to be the cause of our sadness. So please join me in n celebrating a wonderful life rather than mourning Mom’s departure from this earthly life. Let’s rejoice that she is with our Father in Heaven this day and has been reunited with my Dad. She’ll still be with us in spirit until the end of our days and we’ll always remember this great lady and her love for her family and friends.