This is what I wrote for Mom's funeral. I'll be back to cycling-related posts in a few days.
I'm Mary's husband, Louise Brown's son-in-law. I stumbled into this family by accident. When I first met Mary, we sat in my kitchen and talked for hours. She was late getting home to make dinner and Mom was worried. When Mary explained, Mom said, “You don't know him! He could be a psycho!" Whenever I had the chance, I reminded her of that. I'd call on the telephone and say, "Hi mom! It's the psycho!" She always laughed.
Mom and Dad visited us in Oklahoma a few times. She always straightened up our kitchen and sometimes it was weeks before we found everything again. When I complained, she just laughed.
My daughter Lyndsay always called her “Silly Goober Head.” It was their private joke and it made them giggle like schoolgirls. And that's how I want to remember her - laughing. She wasn't happy all the time, of course, none of us are. But her eyes lit up and her voice bubbled. You can see that in some of the photos. I believe that joy sprang from an almost boundless love. We're told to love one another. Mom took this into her heart. She gave to her church, her friends and her family with selflessness, love, and joy. When Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” she listened. She fed many of us both spiritually and in a more physical sense. No one ever left her table hungry. Those big family dinners were built on a solid foundation of love.
Another verse came to mind as I wrote this, and that is “My kingdom is not of this world.” Mom wasn't interested in politics, world events, or the news. Some might think that was foolish. But her focus was on family and friends, spirituality, and her church. The hubbub of daily events just wasn't important. No, mom had her sights fixed on different goals, ones not of this earth.
Mary told me the two of them were driving back from Grove City after picking up Mary's wedding dress. Mom was driving and she stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. Once he was settled in the car, she spent the rest of the drive telling him all about that dress. The guy was probably relieved to escape from two such obviously crazy ladies. But even that stranger benefited from that foundation of love. (Editing note: the hitchhiker was known to them - a detail that Mary omitted when she first told me the story. She added it after reading this.)
I've been to that valley out by Hendersonville where she grew up. She talked about walking up through the woods to meet the school bus. It was still dark and there were bears in the woods. I think that showed a kind of inner toughness that stayed with her throughout all her life. Even chronic illness couldn't stop her. She had difficulty breathing and needed supplemental oxygen, but she still helped family and friends. She was one very tough woman and we'll not meet another like her anytime soon. She never quit. She never gave up.
When her husband Jim died, I stood up and said a few words about him. I said I was honored to call him Dad. With Louise Brown, it's with my most humble gratitude that I could call her Mom.