|Posted by lehewitt on January 29, 2016 at 2:55 PM|
It's Friday, January 29th. I have been hibernating today. It has been a challenging week. My mother passed away at the age of ninety early last Sunday morning. Next came the unending flurry of messages, phone calls, travel, arrangements, decisions, meetings, events, people, and more. A loved one dies and the family is suddenly cast into the hosting role for visitation by hundreds of people. Certainly, it was good to see the faces and feel the love, but I was really more in a mood to just crawl into bed and cover my head. Instead, my brother and I had to go through Mom's things and meet with a lawyer, make decisions about services, and be placed into the center of the events. I am emotionally exhausted. I am basically numb. Time will make things better. But, for now I will enjoy the tranquility of this time alone. I did have the opportunity to speak at the services for my mother, and I decided to share with you what I said...
We are all here today because someone we care about has passed away. She was Mom to me, grandma to others, great grandma, aunt, coworker, friend. She carried many titles in life. Lunch lady, cake lady, crazy old lady behind the wheel, many titles. We are also reflecting a bit on our own mortality today. For each one of us, there will come a day when people will gather to mourn our passing, and I believe that each one of us would be honored to be remembered as fondly as my mom, Betty Jean Chambers Hewitt.
She was a woman with a caring and genuine heart. I have heard her referred to countless times as the strongest woman most of us have ever known. I have never forgotten something that she once said to me many years ago, "You know, there is nothing that I cannot do, if someone just shows me how." That simple statement stuck with me. I saw her live this statement time and time again. Not only was she a great cook and cake lady, she was an Avon lady, she worked in a nursing home, she was a census taker many times over, last working the census in 2010. She worked in the butcher shop, she was an election board member, a ladies auxiliary volunteer, she cleaned houses for the elderly, tended to sixty head of cattle, and took care of a family. How do I know all of these things? Because, she drug my brother and I along to almost all of these adventures. We also raised gardens, cared for livestock, picked berries, dug a good fifty bushel of taters most years, snapped beans, shelled peas, canned fruit and froze corn all summer, for the coming winters. We were a busy bunch! We were far from rich. But, through perserverance and hard work, nobody ever went hungry, or was cold, or felt unwanted.
I spoke to my mother's roommate at the assisted living place where she resided yesterday. She had a message for you who are here today. She said, "Tell those people that there is no need to be sad. Your mom and I were talking Saturday evening and I told her that I was going to go to bed. She said she thought it was bedtime too. I told her goodnight. She told me goodnight. Then we both just went to sleep. It was as peaceful as could be." So, while yes there is sadness here today, this is also a time to celebrate the full and beautiful life that my mother shared with each of you.
I have just told you about a few of my mother's good qualities. One other majot part of what made her who she was was her love of animals. She sometimes told the story of how, as a child, she would run outside when her mother was selecting a chicken for Sunday dinner, to make sure that none of her favorites were taken. She stated that it was much more difficult to swallow when you knew that Charlie, the chicken you had named and loved, was now the main course sitting in front of you.
Many of you knew her as the cat lady. My mother would take care of any cat that needed a home. We fed them, medicated them, and housed them. My brother and I were the only children in the neighborhood with a cat house in our yard. Mom also had a soft spot for dogs. We think she may have fed a few of them to death, but they died fat and happy. The other animal that Mom loved was the turtle. Many times I recall her slamming on her brakes and jumping out of the car to snatch one up who was crossing the road, later to release it into some safe patch of grass and send it on its way. There was no living thing for which she did not show compassion and kindness.
Wouldn't we all be happy to be remembered for so many positive ways in which we made a difference? My mom is a shining example of a life well lived. Ninety-plus years of making the world a better place because she was in it. So, while this is indeed a sad occasion, let it also be a celebration of a very successful life's journey and a lesson to us all.