Monday, April 20, 2009

Lessons from a Child

It will be one year ago tomorrow that my mother-in-law passed from this life. She was sick for a long time and we knew the end (or the beginning for her) was near. When we were discussing preparations for her memorial service, my father-in-law told us that anyone who wanted to would be welcome to speak. Lowell and I both declined because we thought it would just be too hard. Later in the day, Joshua came to me and said that he knew we didn't want to speak at her service but wanted to know if it was okay if he did. I was in shock, but told him that I thought Munnie (what we called her) would love that. One day the next week, I told him that instead of school, I wanted him to focus on his speech and write it out. He went off alone for a bit and came back with the following:

Hello, my name is Joshua Terrell. I am number 8 of the 9 Terrell grandchildren. Thank you for coming and honoring my grandmother. This is a happy day, but also a sad day. It’s a happy day because Munnie is free. She has a new body and I think Jesus gave her a room filled with Munnie’s coke and Krispy Kreme donuts. I think you all know why it is also a sad day.

I want to tell you about a great gift my Munnie gave me. This is something she made for my dad in 1980 and she gave it to me in 1997 when I was just a baby. It says:

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in a state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the mans who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

Even though I love the poem, the greatest gift is that my Munnie believed I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. She gave this gift to all of her grandchildren.

Thank you.

When he read what he had written, I couldn't possibly imagine being more proud of him. Until a few minutes later when he asked if he could call her and read it to her. At this point, she was unable to speak, but we knew she could hear and understand us. So we allowed him to call her on the phone and my father-in-law held the phone up to her ear as Joshua tearfully read to her what he planned on sharing at her service. When he finished, his G-Dad told him that Munnie had a big smile on her face as she listened to him.

I have a hard time with goodbyes. I did tell her goodbye (several times in fact as she held on much longer than expected). However, I know I did not do it nearly as eloquently as my son did. Watching my eleven-year-old tell his grandmother goodbye while at the same time telling her how precious she was to him had to be one of my proudest moments ever. When he was done, we realized that he didn't really need to speak at the service. He had already told the only person who really mattered what he wanted to say. We told him that if he was too nervous or sad or uncomfortable, that he could back out, even at the last minute. But his response was that he had told her and he wanted everyone else to know how wonderful she was too. And I must say, he did an excellent job at the service.

Joshua taught me not to fear goodbye. For it is only for a moment, and we will be reunited. But oh how I miss her!


The Davidson Den said...

Thanks for sharing this, Heather. And, by the way, thank you for your kind words and really means so much to both of us.

momto5minnies said...

Joshua has a wonderful heart. I can see how very proud you are of him!