I had the privilege of sharing our family's memories of my mother, Peggy Sue St.Mary at her funeral service recently. I have decided to post the memories here. Our family, like all families, was not a perfect family. Do those really exist anywhere? We had our share of dysfunctional behaviors and situations. In the pulling together of memories, I realized our family had been a family that kept working through the dysfunctions and conflicts because we all truly loved each other through all of it. We almost lost our mom 42 years ago. That always stayed with us.When her health issues escalated so quickly that we lost her in just days, what we had all feared for years had happened. What buoys me today is that we all pulled together to support her, to love her, to determine together she would be kept comfortable and not suffer anymore than she already had. We were gathered in a prayer around her bed towards the very end. Please understand, we were not a practicing religion type family. That time with Mom at the end of her mortal life was sacred time and we all recognized it. It continued to be sacred time as my older brother,Bob, Lindley and I sat together with my mom's body in the hospital room waiting for the funeral home to pick up her body.
"A time to be born, a time to laugh, a time to dance:
Marlene: 1. Vicky is learning to walk...living room...Daddy and Mom, they had company...they were all having a cocktail,laughing...Bob and I were sitting in a chair together,had been told by Daddy to behave and be quiet..Vicky is wobbling...Mom looks at us and says "show sister how it's done"...Bob and I helped Vicky learn to walk by leading her around a glass topped coffee table. 2.All of us kids in the car..Mom is driving..all the windows are down..it's really hot..Bob is in the front seat crying..Mom looks at him, turns the radio up high and sings "Baby Love" along with the Supremes to him...Bob is laughing..Mom is wearing a yellow A-line dress, scarf around her neck, big sunglasses..she was beautiful. 3. We have been living in Holly Hills (Columbus, Ga)for a short while..not very long into the school year...doorbell rings..Mom answers the door...hair pulled up into a short ponytail...pedal pushers..my new neighborhood friends ask if her little sister Marlene is home...she was the cutest, most popular Mom on the block. 4.Last time I was home..very hot,early evening, Dad's resting, Uncle Ed's gone home, Mike just pulled out of the driveway, Donna just joined Mom and I on the back porch, Mom goes to the kitchen for iced tea, we are all on the back porch listening to the crickets...laughing, drinking iced tea.
"A time to embrace"
Bob: The welcome home I received when I was 11 or 12. We had been at our grandparents for a couple of weeks and Daddy brought me home early. I have never forgotten the welcome I received from Mom and that alone time with her.
"A time to build up"
Vicky: So many memories! What really stands out in my mind is how Mom would welcome people into her home. When we were teenagers the house was filled with other teenagers. A quote from one of my friends, " I was very sad to hear of Peggy's passing. I have very fond memories of playing canasta during the very cold winters at Ft. Wainwright. I also remember how she loved her Coca-Cola in a glass bottle." Another friend was readily welcomed to travel from WA state to AL with us in a motor home the summer I was 16. Our brother in law, Gary, was a lonely Southern boy in Alaska who Mom quickly adopted and brought into our family. Mom always had extra room at her Thanksgiving table. Dixie, Donna's mother in law and Ike, her brother in law became a part of our family too. Mom had a generous and open heart.
Mark: My memories will always be of Thanksgiving. I remember the first Thanksgiving meal with my wife's family. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! There's nothing like good ole Southern cooking. No offense to my mom. I was born in the north; yes I'm a Yankee. For whatever reason, the Southern cooks know how to do it right.
"A time to plant"
Donna: When we were waiting to hear Dad's diagnosis, we dug Mom's flower bed out front. I remember how we worked together and it helped ease both of us and that same flower bed helped at Dad's passing and today at Mom's it is in full bloom.
"He hath made everything beautiful in his time."
Freddy: I enjoyed making Peggy the raised flower bed that she put her herbs in and watched them grow. I also loved her cooking, especially her cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. Going to miss her very much.
"And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God."
Mike: It's very difficult to come up with just one memory to describe Mom. There are many. I remember how she loved her kids and family. How great a cook she was, how she went without so others didn't. How she worried about us kids, especially me! How she was always there for me no matter what! How she loved her Cokes and cigarettes, black walnut ice cream, Fifth Avenue candy bars. How fiercely loyal and defensive of her kids. How she missed Dad, Ed, Mikey and Murphy after they died and never got over it! May God take her in His arms and ease her pain and suffering.I feel a piece of me has died with her and will miss her until the day I die!
"A time to keep"
Jason: remembers all the puppy chow Mom made for him over the years.
Christy: remembers riding along on the Fuji route with Mom and them singing country songs together.
"A time to love"
Jared: Thanksgivings in AL will always be important and cherished memories for me. Everyone involved would do so much to make them special, but grandma especially. I know it took hours of preparation to get that meal ready every year and will always appreciate the hard work and love that she put into each one of them.
Ashley: I will always remember Grandma and her cheerful attitude. Whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas time she was always there with a smile greeting me at the back door. Even before I was officially an Evelo she treated me like family. I will always love her and know that I will see her again in the future. Her home was full of warmth and love. Love you Peggy Sue.
"A time to embrace"
Shelley: I have many memories of Grandma;probably one that will always stick with me is her Coca-Cola's. Whenever I see a Coke, I think of Grandma's house. I also will always remember how comfortable I felt at her house, even with living out of town. I always felt welcomed, like I had just seen her the week before. Grandma always made sure to "hug my neck" whenever I arrived and left. Grandma also loved to read, which is a love that was passed down to me. I loved going to visit my "Alabama grandparents" and I will miss Grandma very much, just as I already miss Grandpa, but I look forward to when I get to see them again.
Brad remembers the Thanksgivings Grandma put on also and the welcoming atmosphere.
"A time of peace"
Lindley:1.One time when I was younger-5 or 6- Shelley and I were up staying with Grandma and Grandpa. In the middle of the night I got really homesick and wanted to go home. Grandma comforted me and then took me into the living room and sat on the floor and watched cartoons with me until it got light outside. I didn't get homesick at all the rest of my visit. 2. Grandma made it seem like we were never apart for long when we saw each other, even if it had been awhile. 3. I always loved walking in on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandma would be in front of the stove cooking dumplings. She would always put down the spoon and walk over and give me hugs. She was never too busy for hugs.
"A time to keep silence."
Matthew: I'll always remember how good she was at catching brim whenever she went fishing. I'll miss you Grandma!
"A time to die, a time to weep, a time to mourn."
A time to heal, a time to build up (the family will go on) a time to embrace, a time to love".