The post below is a revised copy of the eulogy I gave at my mother's memorial service several years ago. Its message is still relevant today. Below the post, you will find two links for photography books of the gardens in my life. My mother never saw either of these books or the photographs published there, but I daresay that she is walking hand in hand with the Master Gardener Himself and can identify each by heavenly name!
It was springtime and everything all abloom. Mom and I were doing our usual Monday trek to the doctor’s office, then to lunch, the pharmacy and back to Mt. Carmel. This day as we passed an outdoor plant nursery, she commented how beautiful the spring flowers were. “Oh, I could just spend all day in there,” she said. She voiced her discontent at not having her very own patio for a few potted plants. Mt. Carmel wouldn’t even allow ivy in the windowsill of her room…for safety and fire hazards, you know. So, she drooled over the impatiens as we drove by.
We finished with the doctor’s appointment and drove the same street back toward town while she told me about the goings on at the Home. Someone was angry because the designated smoking section had been moved further down the porch. Then she began to tell me about Mac, whose wife had been moved on to a nursing home and he himself was sick with a bad cold. Interestingly enough, Mac had been someone she disliked when she first moved to Mt. Carmel. At that time, he walked with a walker and shoved people aside by hitting their chair legs several times as he passed through to his seat. Once when she whispered to me, “I just hate him”, I quickly reminded her to hate his behavior, not him.
She went on to tell me how sick his wife had been, how worried he was about her, and now he didn’t feel well either. At breakfast, she went to his table and patted his arm to tell him “It’s okay. You’re going to feel better. It’ll be all right.” Another resident heard her words and said, “I sure wish you’d bless me like that.” This lady, Eloise, had also been hard to get along with until the next morning, Mom patted her arm and said, “Eloise, may the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you today!” Eloise beamed and asked the other ladies at the table, “Did you hear what she said to me?”
Another heart won. And there was Bro. Henry who she really had a crush on, but he was “taken”. He and his lady friend, Carolyn were an “item” though her family didn’t approve. She had money and he didn’t. He was Hispanic and a retired Baptist preacher and she was Catholic. But Mom practiced her Spanish each morning with Bro. Henry to encourage him. “Mi amigo! Como esta?” And then there was Leo, a 91-year old bachelor who fell in love with Mom and proposed daily as she served him his morning coffee and patted his arm. She gave him attention like he had never known before. The “love of his life” had married someone else while he was away for 4 years at war in Europe. He was broken hearted until he met Nelda. Every day he would ask, “Why couldn’t I have met you 50 years ago?”
Now just the day before mother’s Monday appointment, I had heard a message of “reaping what we sow” from a visiting lay preacher at my church. He had shared with us that Galatians 6:7 is a Biblical law that the secular world has adopted and proven as a universal law. You’ve heard it, “What goes around, comes around.” It does work, negatively and positively. He told how he had planted many “anger” seeds, “jealousy” and “rebellion against authority” seeds, “unforgiveness” seeds, “complaining” seeds, and so on, even some “stealing” seeds in his youth that now, as a successful businessman, he was reaping from employees who stole inventory from him. He said the most important thing to understand about God’s universal law of sowing and reaping is that whatever is missing in your life, whatever your needs in relationships are… in order to receive acceptance, for example, one must give it….first.
With this fresh in my memory, I saw an opportunity to share with Mom that she was planting seeds of love, mercy, hope, gentleness, acceptance and encouragement in the lives of her family at Mt. Carmel Home. These were fruit of the Spirit I observed operating in her life. As we talked more, she looked at me and said, “Why, I HAVE A GARDEN AFTER ALL!” The intersection of Holly & Staples Street will always remind me of the moment “she got it.” She finally understood and knew her purpose at Mt. Carmel was to plant and to be light in someone’s dark world. She bloomed where she was planted. She realized she had turned a corner. Her attitude changed and the last few months of her life were the happiest I have seen. I personally believe it was her “life lesson” and when she learned it, the Lord took her home.
That’s what I want to share with all of you today. We all have a choice to plant anger & rage seeds or tender & loving seeds. I ask you to remember the seeds that Nana or someone like her, has planted and watered in your lives, whether it was a meal, a pat on your arm or pop on your behind, an encouraging phone call, a little note, a scripture or smile, a birthday card or her special rendition of Happy Birthday. The legacy is the garden of your life that you will plant and grow depending on how you tend it. There will be birds that will pick at the seed, the thorns or circumstances in your life may grow up and choke it out, the hot sun may scorch baby leaves of new, tender growth or maybe the seed just fell on the rocky ground of your heart and failed to take root. There are many here today who will choose to have good and fertile soil. You have ears to hear, a willingness to respond and a desire to grow and display impatiens, petunias, pansies, agapanthus, snapdragons, begonias, caladiums, amaryllis, wisteria and more!
Mom prayed for many years to be healed and she finally received her ultimate healing when she went to be with the Lord. She did not lose heart in well doing for in due time, she knew she would reap a harvest if she did not grow weary and give up. There were many times she grew weary and wanted to give up, but she “fought the good fight, ran the race God set before her, and kept her faith…to the end.” It is our choice to choose what crops we plant.
What crops are you planting?
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