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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Eulogy for Mom



My Eulogy to my Mom, Barbara Ann Bowen Phillips:
Born July 3rd, 1933-Died April 26th, 2013

My mom was born on July 3rd, 1933 and while growing up she couldn’t understand what made her so special that they would light off fireworks for her birthday. She was led to believe they were all for her. Each year we enjoyed celebrating her birthday in my brother’s backyard and watched as our club would launch their fireworks a day early; and we would tell her, “those are just for you mom”.

My mom really loved when we would all get together as a family. And she had the great fortune of witnessing many life events; from weddings and graduations, to each one of 9 grandkids births. My husband affectionately called their home the “control center” and there you would always see a myriad of people: grandkids, neighbor’s kids, and friends. When I would come to visit, I noticed that one by one every grandchild would visit mom and dad daily to discuss their day or just sit and watch the weather channel with her. She loved watching the weather. These little slice of life moments were wonderful to witness. Because the most important lessons from my mother were not verbal; they were in her actions. She loved her husband, family, her families’ friends, and she never had an unkind thing to say about anyone.

My mom was quite funny. You could say anything to her and she loved to laugh. She would seemingly debate with you, but in the end she would just always agree with you. In her eyes, her kids were always right and could do no wrong. She just was so amicable, sweet and kind; a true angel on earth.

Funny thing about Mom was that she was a sucker for allowing stray animals refuge for a bit. I remember my brothers were always bringing dogs home for the summer from the fraternity house for their friends. But, she didn’t take too kindly to the two baby rattlesnakes that my brothers, Bob and Brian once snuck in the tree house. When I reminded Brian of that the other day he said, “That’s nothing, once, Bob and I captured a baby possum and decided we were going to keep it as a pet. We collected frogs and bugs in jars to feed it”. He said they named it Sam and figured if he was going to be a true pet that “Sam” would have to get his rabies shot. I’m not kidding when I tell you they actually talked my mom into taking this baby possum to the vet to get his rabies shot. Mom explained to the vet what these boys wanted to do, and he turned to her and said, “Mam, this is a wild animal, and the best thing you can do for this animal is to let it go free”. It could be another one-liner for that comedian Jeff Foxworthy, ”if you find yourself in line at the vet waiting to get your pet possum’s rabies shot…you might be a redneck”. Later when Brian was older, he worked at a bank and one of his directors was a local vet. One day at lunch with this man Brian said to him, “man, you must have some crazy stories”. He said, “yeah, once I had this crazy lady who had brought in a baby possum to get its rabies shots because her kids wanted to keep it as a pet”. Brian was like, “umm, that was me”.

But mom will be most remembered for taking in stray people. My brother Brian’s friend Edwin Kahn lived with us his entire senior year after his parents were transferred by the Navy to Hawaii. My husband’s flight buddies stayed with my parents when they were doing their cross countries here to Jacksonville. For us kids, it was a given that her home was open to anyone…you didn’t have to ask. My husband once asked me, “does your mom ever say no?’. I turned to him and said “no”. She had a home cooked meal ready and waiting for all that visited and was affectionately known as “Momma P”. She had a “To Do List” permanently affixed to her fridge that said: 1. Always offer free hugs and kisses. 2. Keep the candy jar full, and 3. Make her famous cheesecake.

Our pastor Gabe had asked us when he brought our family together what word or words would you use to describe your mother? I looked at him and said “content”. I am not sure he expected that but I went on to say that “each night in my prayers I pray to the Lord that my sons will grow up content with whom they are, and what they have become. Because success in life means different things to different people, but I believe the most fortunate among us are the ones "content” with the path that they themselves and God chose for them. My mom was the most content person I know. She lived her life through her kids and loved every moment of it. She reveled in our glory, and would make light of any worries. Her grace and ability to forgive was such a wonderful gift to learn as a child. She really was our champion and number one fan. We are thankful that our mom taught us to love each other in a way that made getting through this possible.

And even though I knew that someday I would have to let her go, I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be. Today we return her back to the earth, wind and water. But it was better for me and all of us when she walked among us.
There was a card someone wrote that summed up in simple fashion how we all probably feel today that I will leave you with:

Because we loved, there will be tears.
Because we laughed, there will be memories.
Because she lived, there will still be joy.
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