Jessie Woods


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     On a beautiful warm morning in February my beloved mother unexpectedly passed away.  It was such a surprise that it threw our family into a state of disbelieving shock.  They say you can’t die from a broken heart but my Mom would tell you otherwise.  Our father had crossed over thirteen months before and my mom had struggled to deal with living without the love of her life.  Sitting in my dad’s chair with his picture in her hand, she took her last breath and peacefully left her body.  If there is such a thing as a “good death” this was it. 

     My sister’s and I now struggled to accept the loss of both of our parents.  Could we survive and keep our family intact without them to guide us?  Our families looked to us to see how we were going to handle this trying situation.  We had one week to have a memorial service and move out of the home they had lived in for sixteen years.  Could we divide up their belongings and do it a way that was honoring and yet fair? 

     Momma was the heart of our family, showing us by example, how to love each other unconditionally.  She always stood by us and supported us no matter what.  She was a compassionate, honest, kind and joyful woman who I am proud to have had as my mother.   Trusting that she had taught us well and believing that our parents were watching over us, we set about honoring our family name.

     Sitting around the kitchen table, my three sisters and I made a sacred contract to be united together in all things.  Mom and Dad were not wealthy in material items but they were rich in the love they showered on their family.  Our top priority was to be respectful of our parent’s wishes.  They had, over the years, told each of us about things they wanted us to have.  Going through my parent’s belongings: clothes, kitchen items, knickknacks and photos we commemorated the life they had shared with us and the family we had become.

      As we sorted through 52 years of memories, we felt our parents love and admiration for us.  Each item was lovingly divided and given to the appropriate individual that would cherish it as the gift of love that it was.  Through tears and laughter our family was able to honor our parents with no arguments or disagreements between us. 

     As I prepared to give the eulogy I struggled to come up with the proper words that would encompass the wonderful woman that we knew as momma, sister, grandma, neighbor and friend.  A website called Loving has an online book you can buy with sample eulogies and they will even help you write a personalized eulogy for a nominal fee.  I highly recommend them if you find yourself in the position of giving a eulogy. 

     On a rainy February afternoon, family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of two human angels, our Mother and Father.  They taught us by example that nothing is more important than family and I am proud to say my sister’s and I will carry on our parent’s legacy.  We chose to accept the gift of love that was being passed to us through this most sacred of transitions…death. 

     I pray that my family’s story will be an example for others to unite together in times of life and death.  May your celebrations of life be held with compassion and grace.