You’ve have always been there for me. . . we won’t go into all that today, it’s the past and now we are talking about you and your future.
Today is Columbus Day. What an adventure he had. And on this day, what an adventure you are having. Your time on earth came to an end a few days ago, and we will lay you to rest today, “Rest,” Mom. It’s a verb in the dictionary – meaning: 1. state of quiet and ease, sleep, repose 2. ease after work or effort; freedom from activity 3. freedom from anything that tires, troubles, disturbs, or pains
You’ve had a hard time resting all your life. It’s time for you to rest from the labors of your earthly life. It will be hard for you to make that adjustment, I know. It’s been so difficult for you – especially over the last several months, as your body has worn down more and more.
Your back pain has been horrid. Several surgeries just couldn’t fix it, and as your body aged, the doctors were less and less likely to operate to fix it any more. Aren’t we just such silly human beings to think doctors can fix all our body parts as if we were a broken automobile or bicycle? As you walked, you bent over farther and farther. As you walked, and you could feel the bone-on-bone scraping in your back, it became harder and harder to go short distances. You bought a walker. It sat in the corner. You said it was just as easy for you to make it from door jamb to door jamb to bedpost. You never attended many outside activities the last few years -- You said you were “socially unacceptable.” You just didn’t feel good.
Mom, remember the good times we had just hanging out – and maybe playing a game of Scrabble? Oh yeah, just saying the word Scrabble will get you going. I wonder if there’s Scrabble in Heaven? I remember finding the piece of paper in the Scrabble box where you had copied all the “Q” words on a list. Who knew q-a-t was a real word? I’m still upset, though, about the time you wouldn’t let me use the word “binkie.” Every mother in the world knows that’s a word, it just doesn’t happen to be in the dictionary! But we all know you are the Scrabble Queen, and no one here will ever play Scrabble again without a moment of silence to remember you and the fun we all had.
Mom, we picked out peach, pink and and purple flowers for you for today. For one thing, you always did look so good in those colors. We also picked out a wreath that looks like a garden. It reminds us of all the gardens you created. You love flowers and have had green thumbs all your life. I remember you told me one tired day after you had just about worn yourself out.. “If you don’t want me working in the garden, move me away from a pile of dirt. If there’s a pile of dirt, I just have to dig!” You always made beautiful gardens, gardens with beautiful flowers and gardens that fed us good food. And then you would can – grape juice, tomatoes, peaches, jams, salsa. . . we ate good all winter, thanks to you.
And what a cook! Most of my memories of you are in the kitchen. Grandma Anna taught you well. What are we going to do without your crescent rolls at Thanksgiving and Christmas? And your pumpkin pies? People would ask me my recipe for pie crust. It was simple, I’d say, ”Mom, would you make me a pie crust?” And you did. I will definitely miss you coming over for Sunday dinners – you always brought some of the best stuff! I had basic food, and you turned the meals into feasts! You have the touch, Mom.
I’m grateful for the time we had together in the last three months. It’s been hectic, and sometimes physically exhausting. But I have enjoyed serving you for a change. It was just a few weeks ago when you sat at the table after dinner while I cleared and washed the dishes. You said, “I wish I could help!” You didn’t want to be sitting. When you were up and moving around, you didn’t notice your pain. Even when you were at the nursing home stuck in a hospital bed and a bit confused, you said, “I need to get up and do some work.” It just wasn’t natural for you to lie around.
You always taught us by example, Mom. Whether it was work, cleaning skills, money, responsibility – everything. You taught us. You just didn’t preach, you showed us – even to the end. And at a young 84 years old, you bought a condo and as usual, you left it a better place than you found it. You’re just that way.
Well, here we are – at the funeral you didn’t want. You didn’t want a big “to-do”. There are many people here who have come a long way just to say good-bye to you. My guess is you were thinking no one would come – perhaps that there wouldn’t be too many people left to come. Well, they did come, Mom, and they all love you, too. They all love you a lot.
Yes, today is Columbus Day, and last Tuesday was the real beginning of the rest of your life, Mom. This is your big adventure! While we are down here in this chapel talking about you, how much we love you and especially how much we will miss you, you are right up there in heaven. Freed of your earthly bonds, you are meeting and greeting first, with Dad. Is he wearing his uniform? You may not notice at all what he’s wearing. His smile is so big and broad – he has been away from you for 35 years! He is so happy to see you, and you him.
You loved the word to the song, “Love, Me.” And you mentioned you wanted that song sun at your funeral – the funeral that you really didn’t want: I think you thought of it as a letter between you and Dad, since he had gone ahead 35 years before:
If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me I’ll meet you when my chores are through, I don’t know how long I’ll be But I’m not gonna let you down, darlin’, wait and see But between now and then till I see you again I’ll be loving you, Love me
Then there are Grandma Anna and Grandpa Jacob – the parents who made you who you are. Along side them are Virginia and Kenneth, your sister and brother who left earth far too soon! And Bertha, Rose and Nellie. I see you all hugging and kissing. It’s been a long journey for all of you, but there you are all now – reunited as a family. . And others that went away – Kenneth Junior, Warren, Bill, Roseanna and Keith, Phyllis, Walter and Junior, Lydia. Together again. Families are forever, and there you all are. Rejoicing and sharing memories. Are tears shed in heaven now as they are being shed here today?
Richard Lewellen wrote a book in 1960 entitled How Green Was My Valley. It’s the story of Heu Morgan. . . . and the effect of his brothers and father lives touched him – those who worked in the mines, and died in the mines. What was the meaning of this earth life? Here is a portion of his thoughts: “I saw behind me those who had gone, And before me those who are to come, I looked back and saw my father, and his father, And all our fathers, And in front to see my son, and his son, And the sons upon sons beyond.
And their eyes were my eyes.
As I felt, so they had felt and were to feel, As then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid, For I was in a long line that had no beginning And no end, And the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand, And his hand was in mine, And my unborn son took my right hand, And all, up and down the line that stretched from Time That Was To Time That Is, And Is Not Yet, Raised their hands to show the link, And we found that we were one, Born of Woman, Son of Man, Made in the Image, Fashioned in the Womb By the Will of God, the Eternal Father.”
I miss you so much MOM! What am I going to do without you? You were always there for me, and you were so good to me. I truly enjoyed taking care of you the last few months. I love you, I miss you. But I hope you are having a great time. You always said you didn’t mind dying, but didn’t want to be there when it happened. Actually, the last couple of days you were comatose, so in that respect, I don’t think you were there. You were pain free as your body was doing final shut down. Halleluiah! Was the word you said you would say when you finally died. Halleluiah! Mom, Halleluiah!
Your earth life motto was to love and the lyrics to a James Taylor song inspired and touched you very much:
Shower the people you love with love Show them the way that you feel Things are gonna be much better if you only will.
I was with you to the end, and I hope that I was there for you, but I know I will never be able to make up for all the times you were there for me!.
Oh yeah, for those who were listening, the word “q-a-t” means --- “k-a-t” which is a shrub in the staff-tree family, native to Africa and Arabia. Scrabble-wise, It is a foreign word, so probably shouldn’t be used in Scrabble, but it isn’t capitalized, and it is the dictionary. Mom, you made a whole list of “q” words like that. You memorized the list and really took us for a spin when we played with you. You were sneaky and smart like that. And we love you all the more for it.
We all love you, Mom, and we will miss you very, very much! Every day! But we’ll see you when our time is through. . .
If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me I’ll meet you when my chores are through, I don’t know how long I’ll be But I’m not gonna let you down, Mom, wait and see But between now and then till I see you again I’ll be loving you. Love, me.