James B. Earley
Eulogy To The Memory Of My Mother - Poem by James B. Earley
Rosie Leola Earley 1903 - 2001
Delivered at South Bend, Indiana February 24,2001
We gather here on this day, not to mourn Momma's passing. Rather, we assemble as a tribute commemorating the life of this a true believer. One who was passionately committed to an unswerving faith in the Omnipotent existence of a living God. An abiding faith that served her so well during those trying moments of personal adversity. Suffering the ultimate mother's nightmare, she knew the wrenching heartbreak of losing a child. Death became a regular caller, at times, under tragic circumstances. Yet, through it all, her faith never wavered. Not once doubting the will of God, she would simply bow her head in prayer, saying 'Heavenly Father, let thy will be done.' We celebrate the life of a noble person. One who was handsomely endowed with enormous spiritual wealth. A precious individual who touched our lives in such profound fashion. Difficult though it is to accept her passing, we realize that death is a necessary passage, through which at God's appointed time, we all must travel. We understand and appreciate that significance, for death is simply the mandated process in the continuum of life itself. May I share with you please the poem, 'Patches.' An original verse that explores the essence of that timeless interaction of life and death, and vividly illustrates the unique oneness of both. 'When death ends life....A thread is torn....The knot is tied....And the child is born....The cycle but......A fabric patched.....Together bound.....Though unattached....The needle sews....Yet darkness reign....While shadows ask.....Why is the pain....When death ends life....And the thread is torn.....And the knot is tied....And the child is born.'
Momma was a remarkable lady, authoring the book I hold, titled 'And Grace Will Lead Me Home, ' which she published in 1994. Eloquently writing, she explored her days as a child growing up in her native Tennessee, then Kentucky, and later Illinois, of learning the art of cooking, of working on the farm, and of helping tend her younger brothers and sisters. Poignantly, she addresses her life as an adult, telling of the joy in raising her own family.
Reflecting upon my childhood, I often relive those glorious days of which she wrote. As an adult, my own responsibilities have taught me that those days, while rearing us, must have been emotionally and financially trying times for her. Yet, through it all she focused, persevered, showering us children with an abundance of love, affection, and direction. She raised her family properly, amidst overwhelming odds.
A few years ago I composed the poem, 'Momma's Odyssey, ' as a tribute to her, recalling that tremendous sense of love, goodness, leadership and fortitude which she so vigorously exhibited during our formative years. I first shared the verse with her in the company of my sister Jean and brother Charles. As I concluded the recitation, she addressed us collectively, saying 'I want you kids to place that poem upon my coffin.'.....'Within our home was all we needed....There was not a want for more.....Once grown and on my own...I realized then, that we were poor....She did not 'send' us off to church......Instead, she led the way.....Through the very life she lived...She taught us how to pray.....In retrospect, she must have suffered...At times in abject pain.....Although I'll never know for sure......Not once, did she complain....When God prepared that 'House Of Rest'....I know he saw her face....This gentle soul, who's Heaven bound.....If indeed, there's such a place.'
And so, Dear God, we bow our heads in thanksgiving, thanking you Heavenly Father for this marvelous gift of life embodied in the person of this extraordinary woman whom you so generously allowed us the privilege to emotionally share, experiencing the wisdom, and the goodness, and the kindness of her magnificent touch. We thank you for lending us a caring and loving friend. One who was a bastion of spiritual strength, whose very life was an odyssey of faith. An odyssey she traveled all these many years religiously in search of your Kingdom...and she's at rest now. We pray that you have within your infinite wisdom, chosen her soul to dwell with you throughout eternity somewhere within that celestial paradise, we call Heaven. We pray your blessings upon the memory of those of her children who have passed on before, my sister Odessa, brothers Edward, Andy, John, and Sam. May their souls be at rest within your keeping. Wrap your loving arms, we pray, around my sisters Zelma, Jean, and Wanda. And bless please my Aunt Essie, Uncle Aaron and my brother Charles. And all the many others who in some way looked out for Momma's welfare during her final years. Touch this bereaved family, dear God, praying that you align us ever closer with Momma's teachings. Guide our feet that we may consistently walk within her footsteps...and in that 'Great Gitten-up Morning, ' may those footsteps be-the-pathway to our salvation. And on that last Day, in that Final Hour, we beg redemption. Bring-us all-together-with-Momma-again, in Jesus' name we pray....Amen.
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