Oh My Goodness!–What an Amazing Woman

The following is the eulogy written and delivered by my niece, Yolanda Patterson, at my mother’s funeral on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, in Columbus, Ohio. Those who knew her would agree that the remarks capture the essence of who Mom was…

OH MY GOODNESS…WHAT AN AMAZING WOMAN

“OH MY GOOOODNESS,” the very words “Abuela” said whenever she was in utter amazement. Also the very words that are used as we hear about her AWESOME LIFE!!!

To start, she was married at the young, tender age of 17 and widowed at age 35. With four children to raise and recently moving to the USA only four years prior to being widowed, she overcame many obstacles. “Mami,” as her children called her, never worked a day in her life as a married woman. When she was forced to work for the first time, she did whatever she had to do to care for her children like any good mother would. However, she did this while being faced with the additional obstacles of learning the English language, racism and learning to be a single parent. But in spite of it all, she did it. “OH MY GOODNESS!!!”

“Mama Lucy,” as many new her, welcomed just about everyone into her home (unless she simply didn’t like you). And everyone she welcomed in, she made sure to feed. In fact it was almost a sin if you even thought about not eating at her house. You actually felt obligated to eat because she would go through all the trouble of cooking while waking with a walker. Then she would sit and watch you eat; smiling and shaking her head in an up and down motion as if to say, “I’m proud of you” while you ate, not saying a word. “OH MY GOODNESS” that woman was funny.

What about when she got frustrated. She would call off most if not all of her kid’s and grandkid’s names before she got to the correct person she wanted to fuss at. And then got even more frustrated with herself because she couldn’t get the correct name right away due to her excitement. “OH MY GOODNESS…”

How about the fact that she was hit by a bus as she crossed the street and survived! That’s enough to make anyone say, “OH MY GOODNESS!” Or how about when she would whisper as she told you a secret over the phone and there was no one around her to hear her.

What an AMAZING WOMAN!!! She’s taught the family so many lessons such as; to value family and life-she was happy as she wanted to be when her family was around and she lived her life to the fullest. She was always ready to party, dance, sing and play cards and of course bingo. Nothing stopped her from living life; not work, sleep, sickness, infection, ABSOLUTELEY NOTHING! She made enjoying life her priority and business would get taken care of soon enough.

Oh, and you can’t forget how emotional “Grandma” was. It didn’t take much for “Ms. Lucy” to cry. She definitely taught the family how to cry. It’s so easy for us all to cry that we actually laugh when we cry because we remind ourselves of “Grandma.”

Finally, out of all days to close the chapter of life on earth, it was closed on Good Friday; the very day Jesus’ suffering ended on the cross as He gave up His spirit! OH MY GOODNESS!!!

Entering heaven, eyes wide open, mouth formed in an “O,” looking around at the other angels who preceded her, in amazement as if they had just saw the pearly gates and golden streets for the first time; saying, “OH MY GOODNESS…” as if to say, “Can you believe this?” She is probably saying,
“I should to come here sooner,” with that beautiful accent of hers followed by her famous words,

“Sank you Jesus; Sank you Lord.”

"It is finished"

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NIV)

This verse kept resonating with me during Holy Week while my mother was dying. The words of Jesus as he hung on the cross were never more meaningful.

Mom died on Good Friday shortly before 9 p.m.

Earlier in the day, sometime after noon, I received a call from my sister that the hospice nurse had called and said that Mom was in “terminal anxiety” and that we should gather the family because it could be hours or maybe a day. I was committed to leading a Good Friday worship service that evening at 7:30 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church. Even though I agonized about it, I decided to go ahead and lead the worship.

My wife and I left immediately after the end of the worship at around 8:45 p.m. for the two-hour drive to Columbus. Shortly after nine p.m. I received another call, this one from my niece, that Mom was gone. Fortunately, the hospital said that they would wait until I arrived and would allow me time with the body before the funeral home would be notified.

I wasn’t prepared for the breakdown I had when I saw the lifeless body of my mother lying in the hospital bed at Riverside Hospital. The strength that had sustained me during this ordeal abandoned me at that moment and I cried like a baby. Though I had told myself I had no regrets, I longed desperately to talk to her one more time. I touched her cheeks and embraced her innocent-looking face as the tears gushed and my heart broke. The thought of her not being with us anymore was just too much to take. It is a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever experience ever again.

We have not had a major loss in our family for decades. My father died more than 50 years ago and we’ve lost grandparents, uncles and aunts–but never anyone this close in many years. It has been ten days since her death, but the haunting memory of that scene in the hospital room is as vivid as if it were today.

Wednesday of Holy Week

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.”
John 11:25
This blog is written in honor, and soon to be in memory, of my mother, Luz María Allende, who is in hospice care at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. My family has been struggling with the acceptance of her impending death. I feel I am entering into it with some measure of calmness because of my faith. I believe in the resurrection, as we confess weekly in worship, but that doesn’t fill the void that I’m sure I will feel once she is gone.
Today is Wednesday. I have services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I begged off Easter Vigil, which is being done jointly with three other congregations, so that I could spend Saturday at the hospital. We don’t know how much time we have and I feel I need to be there with her. Even though she can’t talk and is asleep more often than she’s awake, she is conscious of the people around her. I only pray that I don’t receive one of those dreaded telephone calls late at night that can only mean one thing.
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