October 19, 2010

The Last Chapter


Dear Mom,

Well, it's tomorrow.  At least, that's what it feels like.  From the moment I was shocked into numbness with a phone call on September 29th to yesterday, it has seemed like one long, continuous day.  A hard day.  The hardest day.  But, somehow due to the mercy of G-d, today feels like tomorrow.

I miss you so much.  I am so afraid of losing the memory of your voice, what your laugh sounded like, how you said hello on the telephone.  I know full well that this feeling will not ever leave me.  I just have to accept it.

The memorial went well, Mom.  I like to think that you would have liked every little detail.  The hall looked 'elegant' someone told me and I think you would have agreed.  We had white cloths on the tables with white and clear bud vases holding the most beautiful long-stemmed red roses we could buy.  So many red roses...I know you would have liked that.  We mixed in some really bright bouquets around, as well, just to add some interest - bright colors were your favorite, I know.  Lisa did such a great job with those small little vases.  She really liked you, Mom, and she has been with me every day since...the phone call.

Your whole family came to the service, too.  I was so pleased that they all came.  Larry spoke such wonderful things about you; funny things, too.  He told the story about you helping him get ready for a birthday party - his message was 'perfect'.  He was strong and made it through, but I know it was very hard for him.  He will miss you greatly.

Darla was there, with Joe and Kim and their spouses and kids I have never met.  Darla was a mess, Mom.  But, they all appreciated looking at the memory tables I put together.  I found the pic I loved of you and Darla; she said you guys had to work hard to pay back the money it cost to get that portrait made.  It is just beautiful.  And Debbie was there with Shawn; even Jason and his wife and kids were there.  It was so sad - we all love you so much.  Richard was just plain hurting - no one cared for him like you did.  He wrote the sweetest card for our memory book.  It just broke my heart.

Rob has been so loving during the whole time since...the phone call.  And the kids were as supportive as usual; Alex is the ultimate loader-outer-guy and premier solution guru, and Tay was the official greeter, passing out programs as guests arrived.  Morgan helped immensely with the flowers and setup.  I'm not sure she quite knows how to handle losing you.

Of course you wouldn't be surprised at all my close friends who came to make my vision come to life.  I couldn't have done it without them.  But you already knew that.  *smile*  I am so blessed, Mom, with such good friends.  It makes all the time of being hurt and betrayed by some who I thought were friends fade away into oblivion.   

Dad says that the memorial was everything he had hoped for - he completely trusted me to take care of it.  It was the hardest day of his life.  To say he misses you does not even begin to scratch the surface of his deep sense of loss at your passing.  You are in his very soul.  I'm trying to take care of him...why am I hearing you say "good luck" in my head?  Yeah, I'll do my best to make him feel loved and needed.  We actually had him over for dinner for Morgan's birthday before the memorial, and it went well.  Strange, but OK.  It will never be 'normal' without you.

As for me, well, I am pleased with how the memorial went.  So many people were there - the place was full...around 100, I'm thinkin'.  Grieving people from every decade, every facet of your life, Mom.  I think you would have been surprised at all the people you touched throughout your life.  I have gotten several phone calls and cards stating their apology of absence due to unavoidable family obligations of their own, which is so kind.  As I sat with Dad, holding his hand with tears streaming down my face, my good friend Tim read the eulogy I wrote.  It was strange to hear my words coming out of his mouth, I can tell you.  

Honestly, I am glad it's over.  And it is over.  The last chapter.

Oh, what a great book it was.  Well done, good and faithful servant.

I love you more than words can say and I will miss you every day for the rest of my life.  I am honored to have had the privilege of being your daughter, and I long for the day I will see your face again.

your loving daughter,
Elizabeth

The Dexter legacy



Eulogy for Margaret Anne Dexter Jones
written by Elizabeth (Jones) Henderson
read by Timothy Hegg
October 16, 2010

Early on Wednesday, September 29, my whole world changed. My beloved Mother, the one who had been my rock and staunch supporter for my 45 years of life, went to be with her LORD. I am resigned to missing her the rest of my days.

To describe my Mother I have found to be a difficult task. She was so much to so many. For me, she was the Mother that anyone would want, the stuff of fairy tales. She was strong and decisive, loving and compassionate, a force to be reckoned with; the one I looked up to for the model of how to be. She was an excellent cook, an expert administrator and special-occasion social coordinator. She volunteered at my school, lead Girl Scout troops and was the classic Mom-taxi-service. But deeper than that, she cared on a level that is hard to describe. She would have given her life for my brother or myself, if that is what was required. She spend time forever concerned for the welfare of the two of us - her two babies. And it is she that instilled and modeled a deep spiritual faith in G-d that few can match.

For my handsome and charismatic Father, Maggie was his beautiful Sweetheart for 48 years. Ever the faithful and loyal wife, she stood beside him through the worst and best of times. Through tragedy and near ruin, during times of feasting and deep abiding comfort, she was his best friend and confidante. When he went to Germany for his time in the US Army, she followed to marry her handsome prince. They loved each other with a strength and purpose that I have rarely seen. They were truly made for each other. They were two halves of a whole - they completed each other in a beautiful and respectful way.

For her siblings, she was the eldest sister that filled the role as care-giver and protector. Their own parents struggled in those difficult times with both having to work outside the home as well as bouts of sickness. The responsibility of caring for four younger siblings fell into the young, but capable hands of Margaret. Her family experience and take-charge personality coupled with her intuitive compassion gave her the tools she needed for what she would become later in life. Her sister Darla and she, as she would tell it, were raised as twins since they were very close in age. Then came Richard and Debbie, who both held a special place in her heart all her life. And then came the youngest brother, Larry; Margaret cared for Larry as if he were her own child. Their stories and shared experiences shaped them all into the responsible and caring adults who all felt a strong, loving bond with each other.

For her parents and my Father’s parents, all of blessed memory, she was a dutiful and honoring daughter and daughter-in-law. She gave her all to loving and caring for all of them, both during and at the end of their lives, making sure they knew how much she loved and appreciated them. She carried their memories close to her all her days and instilled in her own children the privilege and obligation of honoring and serving others to the point of sacrifice.

To her four grandchildren, she was Nana. And Nana always had something warm and loving to say to them and about them. They were her joy and her passion. She reveled in the fact that she was the grandmother and she spoiled them constantly. When one had a birthday, they all got gifts. Every Christmas I heard that there was a distinct need to "pare things down this year" only to arrive with overflowing gifts for all her beloved grandbabies. She lovingly told each of them on their birthday, "I remember the day you were born..." and would again tell them how proud she was of them. Yes, her grandchildren could do no wrong.

But, Maggie touched so many more than just her family. To her many close friends through the years, she was faithful and attentive, always providing a listening ear and timely wisdom. With her easy smile and sometimes sarcastic banter, she made everyone who was with her feel at ease. Her warm caring for the challenged, and even championing the underdog, was just a part of her that couldn't be denied. She could not stand by and witness injustice or unfair situations without trying to provide comfort to those in need. So many times she would call me to tell of a situation with this one, or that family, that was in great need and could I possibly join her in helping in some way. I was always honored to stand beside her and fill the gap for many that crossed her path, as she fed, clothed and loved them.

For her co-workers, she was Miss Maggie. Just saying the name alone brings to my mind her huge heart for children. Working for 28 years with Jane, Dee and all the childcare providers over the years at GreenAcres Learning Center was a complete joy for her. It wasn't always easy, of course, but it was truly her heart to care for children and to help parents raise their children to the best of their ability. As her own children were growing to adulthood, she went back to school and proudly obtained a college degree in Early Childhood Education. Over the years, she took hundreds of continuing education courses and workshops, keeping her skills honed and current. She took her job as Program and Curriculum Coordinator seriously and with great fervor - a job she filled with excellence.

To say that my Mother, Maggie, will be missed is a huge understatement.

She was loving, tender, sensitive, caring, compassionate, smart, intuitive, witty and sarcastic...

she was a willing listener, an avid wisdom giver, and a champion for the underdog...

she was a beautiful woman, an endearing mother and a faithful wife...

she was a strong believer and a model of great faith for all those around her...

she was a smile to strangers, a friend to many, and invaluable to those that knew her.

She was, and always will be, my hero.

4 comments:

Mama Cache said...

My dear friend, your words are moving and filled with the love and honor I have always heard when you speak of your beloved Mom.

The memorial was beautiful, Liz. I know I've already told you that; but as I think back on the vignettes of the day, I am reminded of it all again.

Even in the midst of your own grief, you have blessed and comforted those sharing your loss; and, may I say, that is something to behold. So very you. So incredibly dear.

I have you in my heart, my precious friend.

Anonymous said...

What a gracious and loving tribute to you lovely mom. I hope you know that every day you are a tribute to her, just being wonderful you. Thank you for sharing your words and feelings with us, I hope it helps you get through each day. I am so glad you have such a wonderful family and best friend to be with you.
All my best to you dear one,
Mary Jane

Ari C'rona said...

Oh, well done. Your tribute has left me allowing the grief to release, my dear, dear friend. I love you.

YourBrother said...

I'm sure your mom enjoyed the work you did for her and your dad. You have been truly blessed to have such a warm family relationship! She will be with you whenever you seek her.