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The Eulogy of Betty Jones: A Cherokee Mother, (by her son, Robert Jones)

Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 18:48

robertandmother1

“Only with death is the story of our lives complete”

~Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

A Eulogy, the recitation of ones life story, is a powerful tool for transformation and growth among survivors. Perhaps, the writer of the eulogy experiences the greatest growth from penning the words. Below is a freshly-written eulogy by one of our readers. Beautiful, simple, even poetic. Afterwards, a short praise of the eulogy and legacy is discussed.

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My mother, Betty Jones, grew up in a tiny town in northern Oklahoma called “Ochelata”. Oochalata was a Cherokee chief, and mom was enough Cherokee to later become a registered member of the Cherokee Nation—something she was proud of.

Her life began December 2, 1923, during the great depression days, and became more difficult when her dad left home for California when she was about 6 years old.  Later there was a divorce.  Mom greatly missed her daddy. It was a hard time for her…

Mom did accounting work for most of her life. Her last job involved working in a smoke filled room—which probably led to the lung cancer she had when she passed on.

Mom was very good with animals, and I remember she was able to get our dog Sammy to talk (almost humanly)!  Later in her life, there are pictures of her feeding wild deer and a baby rabbit from her hands.

A little good goes a long way in life, and I remember mom reading some children’s stories.  I also remember many fantastic desserts, and holiday meals that took all day for her to prepare.  On a deeper level, I remember her reading a verse from the bible once. It was from Ecclesiastes, and read “A time to give birth, and a time to die.” She had a serious look on her face. I was ten years old, and now I know the time limits of life are worth serious consideration.

If mom could be here in this moment I suppose she would say; “hope can be found in little things, in roses sparkling with morning dew, in the laughter of children, in compassion toward ourselves,—and every breathing creature.”

Mom slipped away peacefully, without medications, with her eyes shut, and a slight smile on her face around 1215 on January 30, 2014. It was nine months after her husband (Merle) of 70 years passed.  She said she would be happy to live to age 90, and she exceeded that by two months.

I was not there at her passing.  However, she was well aware of the six main points from the book Its OK to die’** She read them over and over to Dad at his passing (I wrote them down for her), and she knows they are for her too.

The song I suggested for her final viewing is “Purple Raindrops” by Oliver Kelly.  A song that she said sounded pretty (by title)–in my final phone call to her a week before..

God knows Betty changed, and continues to change many things for good in life.  She will be missed.

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**The author is referring to chapter 17 – Six Things That Must Be Said to Make it “OK to Die.”

Discussion of the concept of the Eulogy, excerpt from page 187-188 of “It’s OK to Die”:

Only with death is the story of our lives complete. Death is the closing line and the final punctuation to the script of our mortal experience. But this is not all. Maybe the ending of the story heralds a time of potential growth for the survivors, as we are often moved by the last verse of a great book. Someone’s ending could provide a great example or new start in the life of another.

In our culture, at the funeral, memorial service or wake, we recite and summarize this story. We rejoice or weep and are saddened or inspired as we reflect on the life of the recently departed. Their legacy moves us to become our better selves in the time we have remaining in our lives. In all of our lives, if we have risen to the challenges set before us, if we have chosen the higher path, if we have been true in the face of adversity, if we have gone out of our way to help our neighbor, if we have lifted the lonely and the needy, if we have had humility and devoted ourselves to all things honorable, then our story becomes an epic drama capable of inspiring others to live up to their higher potentials.

An ancient Middle-Eastern parable found in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, John 12:24, reads: “Except a corn (grain) of wheat fall onto the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” In other words, a grain of living wheat fulfills its greatest possible potential by dying. As the grain falls from its stalk to the ground in death, only then is it able to sprout and grow, producing more abundant life and fruit than it ever could know as a seed alone. Innumerable generations of life could be the offspring of the death of one good seed. Such is also the product of a powerful legacy, of a life well lived. Roomfuls and roomfuls of people have been touched by your life. When it ends, will these people reflect on your influence and vow to stand a little taller, try a little harder? Will they rise in courage on more occasions and shoot for higher stars? Will these roomfuls and roomfuls of people inspire ever more generations on to higher planes? Maybe it was all because of you.

-Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

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robert jones

~Robert Jones is the author of “The Eulogy of Betty Jones.” Personally, he has survived many close calls, and the deaths of many close friends. Robert is a creative person who has done well in college English composition, and enjoys helping others in distress. Please see his other article, How Death Changes the Living for profound insights at the time of his father’s death.

(photo credit: Robert Jones, picture of Mother and Son)

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3 thoughts on “The Eulogy of Betty Jones: A Cherokee Mother, (by her son, Robert Jones)

  1. Rea

    Reflections. Profound thoughts from both the author and his host. Yes, we change throughout our lifetimes, and we change others. Others continue to change after the death of a loved one, because of the life of that loved one. We know that death ends a life but not a relationship. Maybe many others are touched by the life and death of that loved one. Quite a legacy…when you come to think about it, like a spiral with no end… What is “death,” really?

    Reply
  2. Pingback: The Eulogy of Betty Jones: A Cherokee Mother, (by her son, Robert Jones) | It’s OK to Die | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

  3. Bob's sister, Merlene

    I am very proud of my brother’s words in the eulogy that he wrote for our mom. That he could, even through those early days of intense grief, write such a wonderful tribute is just further evidence of the strength, depth and loving compassion of this man.

    Love you, Bob. Well done.

    Reply

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