In my last post, I told you I would put up the eulogy I spoke at Mom's funeral. The main portion of it was from a "Thank You Mom" tribute I had written and given her for Mother's Day about nine years before her death. I never imagined that I would share those words with anyone else, much less at her funeral. But it was the perfect thing to do. And, it blessed others. I had a number of people tell me afterwards that they intended to write their own Thank You's to their loved ones, some living, some gone. I think it's a good idea.
Here is what I shared.
"My Mom was a beautiful and special woman. She has meant so much to me, my brothers and our wide and mixed family.
All of us in this room have known Mom through different means. To us she is Mom, Nana, Grandma, mother-in-law, step-mom, aunt. She has been known by you as fellow volunteer, fellow choir member, circle leader, office volunteer, elder, committee member, Bible study participant, teacher, school board member, hostess. But most of all, friend.
The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I marvel at the beautiful fact that all of us have been privileged to know and experience Mom through different means, and thereby we each have known her a little differently. We each have had a unique relationship with her. There are things you know about her, things you observed about her, experienced with her, that I as her daughter don’t know. There are things that we have been privileged to know and experience about Mom that can’t be known apart from our unique relationship as her family. ......What a beautiful thing a human life is.
As people have called, and as I’ve looked back over Mom’s life this week I am seeing her with fresh eyes. I am seeing how important she has been in the lives of many whom she knew, some of whom she quietly loved and encouraged through the years. She has influenced, loved, and cared for many people, quietly and unbeknownst to most all of us. She has had a powerful impact in lives that most of us have had no idea about. She has left a legacy of faith, love, and service.
Several years ago I wrote a Thank You Letter to Mom. I’d like to read it to you so that you can enjoy a bigger view of her as the beautiful woman she was. But first, there are a couple of items on this list that need some explanation.
One: At our first house here in Phoenix we had a gardener who planted and tended some beautiful flower beds out front. His name was Mr. Stepp. He was not a young man and a few years later, he died. Mom went to his funeral. I was young and it puzzled me that she went when he wasn’t really a friend or relative. When I asked her why she went, I learned that he didn’t have much of anyone here in the way of family or friends. She went to honor his life and let his son know that he had mattered to her.
And then there was a time when my Grandpa needed some serious surgery. Mom went back to Detroit to be there for him and my Nana. In the bed next to Grandpa was a man who was very ill and it didn’t seem that the nurses were tending to him very well. This was in the late 60’s or perhaps very early 70’s. He was a black man and mom suspected this might be the reason he was being neglected. Mom took care of him. She tended to him with cool cloths and comfort. And I think that man ended up dying. I am grateful he died knowing she cared about him.
So...here is a view of Mom through my eyes:
Thank you for letting me play in the bottom drawer when I was a toddler. I remember thinking it was “my” drawer. You let me drag everything out and play with it on the floor. I especially loved the eggbeater. And now I realize you had to wash everything after I played with it on the floor!
Thank you for making chicken for me when we had spaghetti. And now, thanks for the great spaghetti recipe!
Thank you for sitting with me till I fell asleep at night when I was scared as a child.
Thank you for trying to resolve that fear in me.
Thank you for giving me a foundation of church and Christianity.
Thank you for having birthday parties for me. Thanks for all the thought and fun you put into them - like the balloons hanging from the chandelier, each with the name of one of my guests written on it so she could take it home.
Thank you for making me feel special by fixing an after-swimming snack for my 5th grade friend and me to eat poolside - each item was in its own little bowl. I thought that was so elegant and I felt very special.
Thank you for knitting. It was always a comfortable homey feeling to be watching TV with you knitting on the couch. Thanks for all the beautiful afghans you have made for all of us. Thank you for teaching me to knit.
Thank you for always telling me I drew good trees and for encouraging me in my drawing as a child.
Thank you for remembering and valuing the lonely and alone you came across.
Thank you for attending Mr. Stepp’s funeral.
Thank you for caring for the black man who shared Grandpa’s hospital room in Detroit. Thank you for being there with him, putting cool cloths on his forehead, nursing him when the nurses wouldn’t - probably because he was black. Thank you for, by that act, teaching me that color doesn’t matter but that kindness and goodness and love do.
Thank you for taking me to lunch right after getting my braces off, to celebrate.
Thank you for giving me the professional water color set. I never would have taken art classes in high school if you hadn’t. Thank you for seeing the artist in me when I couldn’t and for encouraging me to explore art when I had no confidence or even a notion that it was part of me. If I hadn’t taken art classes in high school, I never would have taken them in college. If I hadn’t taken them in college I never would have discovered who I truly am. Thank you!
Thank you for having Young Life at our house.
Thank you for your example of being involved and wanting to make a difference in this world: communicants class, opening our home to church and inner city youth parties, being on the school board, your involvement in church circles, boards, volunteer jobs and administrative roles. You have made a difference in this world.
Thank you for resigning your effective school board position to be home with me my senior year.
Thank you for the Welcome Home Judi banner over the carport for my first visit home from college. I was amazed that you would tell the whole world you were so glad I was home! I felt so special and loved. Thank you.
Thank you for entertaining in our home - for always thinking of those who might be alone for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I love the memories of guests at these special dinners. You have shown me gracious hospitality.
Thank you for being the kind of woman that my brother’s old girlfriends want to keep in touch with.
Thank you for your committed diligent care for Aunt Nomie.
Thank you for passing on your love of animals to me.
Thank you for your commitment to what’s right - for being willing to say or do the uncomfortable for the sake of a higher good - for being willing to do the right thing though there is a risk and a cost to do so. That’s integrity. Thank you.
I love you, Mom.
I thank you for all of the countless ways you have loved me in my life - all the sacrifices you have made both small and great, all the thought you put into raising me, improving my life, and meeting my needs. Thank you for your laughter. I have observed your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your kindness - to me, my husband, my brothers, their wives and children, and to all people. Thank you for the privilege of this observation.
I love you,
I gave that to Mom about nine years ago and I’m so glad I did.
At the beginning of my sharing I said that Mom was a beautiful and special woman. Because of her faith in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary death on the cross for us, I can say that Mom IS a beautiful and special woman...present tense. She has eternal life with Christ in heaven because of her faith in Him, and though I grieve my loss of her, I do not grieve without hope, because I know I will see her again in heaven. The loss is temporary. And I am very thankful for that."