Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Tribute to Dee Dee

During Mom’s year-and-a-half stint with illness, there were several times that she ended up in the hospital.  About a year before she died, she was in the hospital in Weatherford with pneumonia, and she was pretty sure that this was going to be the end.  So she shared some thoughts with me at that time – things that she wanted to make sure that the family would know.  She also basically planned her own funeral service.  She told me that she wanted “one of those DVD’s that has music and pictures in it”.  She told me that in addition to pictures from her life, she also wanted some pictures that represented the three most important things in her life:  God, family, and love of country.  At that time, she only wanted three songs:  “ You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “I Believe”, and “America the Beautiful”.  Strangely, enough, about two weeks before she actually passed, when the rest of us were thinking that she was actually starting to get better, she told me that she wanted to add a song to her music line-up.  She wanted to include “Elusive Butterfly (Of Love)” by Boots Randolph.

For Mom’s funeral, I ended up giving her eulogy and I tried really hard to convey the thoughts of her heart with everyone there:
The first thing that she wanted everyone to know was that she had a strong faith in God and believed that Jesus Christ was her savior.  Even though she did not go to church, I know from personal experience that she did talk to God.  I can’t count how many times she would come toddling out of her bedroom and then tell me that she had been praying for someone…usually whichever kid or grandkid or great-grandkid was having a tough time, or for someone who might be traveling and in need of extra protection.  In the hospital that day she said that she hoped that each one of us would be able to find the comfort and strength that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

The second thing that meant the most to her was her family; we truly were her whole world.  Mom always loved you, even when you didn’t deserve it; and Mom was always there for you, even when you didn’t deserve it.  I know that she was there for me even when no one else was, and I will always be so very grateful.  All of the grandkids seemed to agree that she had the ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the whole world.  One of Alan’s greatest joys was to go spend about a week with Mom in the summer, and that was the only reason he was not thrilled at first when she moved in with us – he was going to lose his “summer place” and his time alone with Dee Dee!  She was that Mom that would give up the last piece of cake if you wanted it, or even give you the shirt off her back.  The woman loved her family.

The third thing that meant the most to her was her country.  She loved her country and was very proud of the fact that she was a veteran.  I think that her being a veteran was not only a great source of pride for her, but it was also her identity.  In her later years she was very interested in politics, and there were days that she spent a good deal of the morning on the phone, calling her senator or congressman to let them know what was going on and what she thought about it.  Then she would come out to the kitchen and proudly announce, “Well, I’ve done my activism.  Now I need some tea!”  I had wondered why she was so consumed with politics (she watched Fox News all day long), and it wasn’t until after she had died that it hit me:  In her own way, she was still doing her part to defend the country.  Even if she couldn’t wear the uniform any more, she could still do her part.  Mom was military until the end, and even after – she chose to be buried at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Killeen, Texas, beside her fellow vets.

Mom got the video she wanted.  Once again, my brother-in-law, Don, came through.  He could not have done a better job!  It is absolutely beautiful and does a wonderful job of capturing who Mom was.  If you would like to watch it (it’s about 9 minutes long), click here.

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