Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Like A Mother To Me

A year ago, I lost my mother-in-law. While the Lord’s timing in her death was a tender mercy, her loved ones still miss her. Here’s my eulogy for her:

Penny was the youngest of five children from her father’s second wife. She was the youngest of his 13 children total! At eight years old, Penny lost her Dad at time when losing the breadwinner was devastating. There was no welfare net and hard times came quickly. While still a child, she went to work. The hardships followed her but didn’t defeat her. She became people savvy and street smart.

Penny loved to dance and would go with girlfriends to the USO to dance with the sailors and soldier boys. Being a good dancer herself, she wasn’t too keen on dancing with a guy who couldn’t keep up. Thankfully for me, Robert Beatty, Sr. could dance! I loved to hear her tell stories of USO experiences or of being an actual “Rosie the Riveter” during war time.

What she lacked in formal education, she made up for with determination and genuineness. As Jesus would say of Nathanael, Penny was a woman in whom was no guile. You always knew where you stood with her and that honesty served her well. At one point, she was an award-winning salesperson for Stanley Products (I have a lovely silver punch bowl thanks to her salesmanship!) before going on to retire from General Electric.

Penny loved horse-racing, but had a selective memory about the experiences – She only remembered the horses on which she won! The last few years, Penny and I would go to Keeneland for the Spring and Fall meets. I had more fun watching Penny than I ever had watching the horses.

“... on her tongue is the law of kindness.” This is what I treasure most about Penny. When her son-in-law was stationed at Ft. Knox, the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners always had room for soldiers who couldn’t get home. I’ve written before about Penny’s Christmas practice of always having extra presents so no one left her home at Christmas empty handed. She also provided presents for her struggling family members’ children.

Penny was childlike in her enjoyment of things. We celebrated Christmas with the Beattys on Christmas Eve and Penny could not wait to open presents. I had made it a practice to give our parents stockings. As soon as she had emptied hers, Penny would toss the stocking back to me with a laughing demand to “Fill it up again.”

When you work fulltime outside the home, housework suffers. During the early years of our marriage, I was not only working fulltime but overtime and my house showed it. I can’t count the number of times I have come home to find my house cleaned and my ironing done by my sweet mother-in-law.

Mother-in-law stereotypes didn’t apply to Penny. If Bobby and I had an argument, Penny was sure I was right. (Quite an accomplishment since Bobby was the apple of his Mom’s eye.)

During the last few months, she didn’t really interact with her surroundings and only responded to specific questions. Until, that is, one afternoon when the Christian care center in which she lived started showing a Gaither Homecoming DVD. Penny began singing the old hymns and songs. These she remembered.

During her last days, Penny would often call out to the Lord. Penny went to be with the Lord in whom she had placed her trust on July 29, 2008, the day after her 80th birthday.

1 comment:

guinever said...

What sweet remembrances!