While considering what to write as a second blog entry, I found the eulogy I wrote for my mom's funeral in early 2008. It seems strange now - to consider my audacity in thinking I could summarize her (all 91 years of her!) in nine short paragraphs. Impossible. Yet, in posting them now, I hope to share with you just a bit of the woman she was. It is titled "Glory" because Gloria was the name my grandmother first gave my mom (she later changed it to Dorothy) who was born on a glorious day in December, 1916:
First, my sisters and I would like to thank each of you for the special role you played in our mom’s life and especially in the week leading up to her passing. Your prayers, your calls, your presence enabled her to live her life knowing she was loved and gave her sure footing as she journeyed from this world to the next. May you be blessed in return for your many kindnesses. We hope you sense, as we have, the hand of Providence in each step you took with her.
Secondly, we want to say how grateful we are for the innumerable ways in which we experienced the hand of God this last week. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, we have treasured all these things up in our hearts and meditated upon them. While many of the signs we saw, the conversations we held, and the moments in time we lived were the same, each of them spoke to us individually and uniquely and was exactly what we needed when it occurred..
Lastly, we want to express our gratitude to our mom who so thoroughly prepared us for this event. Not only did she raise us to be women of purpose, she purposefully had put her life in order. From her business affairs to her wishes for medical care, she was prepared. Even her many photo albums she so diligently kept over the years, were a gift she left us as we made arrangements for this day.
Consider this clipping I found in one album. It was her senior class write-up from Margaretta High School titled “Individualism Shown by Unusual Senior Maiden”:
"Dorothy Pickett – fiery Senior girl who hates nicknames – thinks they show lack of respect – has a terrific temper – admits it – but insists that it is a German one and not Irish. She has a secret passion for the colors orange and green – makes her less bashful – believes that vivid colors give a feeling of importance.
Strangely enough, she detests books – thinks they are too fictitious, she is extremely realistic. She is handy with her right hand – gets a bigger “kick” out of slapping boys than girls – says they’re not so apt to strike back. She can play “The Doll Dance” on the piano then starts clogging – believes that a dancing class ought to be in the school curriculum – has charming dimples and laughs continually – swims like a fish—sinks when she floats – prefers riding in a Chevrolet to a Whippet any day – or night for that matter."
What struck me in reading this and in speaking with each visitor who called yesterday, was the similarity in the words used to describe our mom. Their impressions of her tell of a woman who was true to herself. She was, in fact, true in many ways to this little vignette from years gone by. That is not to say she was a stagnant, unchanging person. To the contrary, she was one of the most effervescent, alive people I know. But she was herself – no phony baloney – and as private and reserved as she could often appear, she was very real.
We were fortunate to experience that realness in new ways since the time of Mom’s first stroke. Because of it, much of the guard she, like we, had learned to carefully put in place over the years, was lowered. She became open to hugs, transparent with her emotions, and though sometimes easily frustrated, just as quick to apologize. This does not mean the last 13 ½ months were easy for her. They were hard times but ones in which she, as in hard times before, valiantly prevailed. That is perhaps one of her greatest legacies to us – prevailing in the face of opposition.
Her other legacy is the faith she had (and has) in a loving God – one whose hand can be seen in all of creation if one simply takes the time to notice. It is that God who spoke to us throughout this difficult time. It is that God who redeems us through his Son. And it is ultimately that God who ushered our mom into his kingdom and has restored her to wholeness.
I am thankful that God saw fit to give me a mom who was both a rock and a cushion on which to fall, my biggest cheerleader while still a dispenser of needed reproof, a nurturer yet the one who prepared me to leave her nest for a life of my own. I am thankful that, no matter the time or distance that separates us, I can still, if I'm very quiet, nearly hear her voice call my name. I can consider the wise counsel she would be sure to give if she could and see hints of her in the mannerisms my aunt and sisters and I share. In all these ways, she remains forever alive. And indeed she is, for she is never out of the mind of God.