Two weeks ago today, my mother Daisy Belle (Lyles) Woodward died peacefully in her home. One week ago today, we buried her in a small country cemetery where her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are buried—as well as my dad and many of her brothers and sisters. I just wanted to share with you today the eulogy that I delivered at her funeral.
Today is a day that we always knew would come; today was a day we never thought would come; ultimately, we bow our heads and say, “Today is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.”
There is much to be happy about today.
- We the family are happy that you have honored our mother by coming to this service today. Thank you for your kind words, the beautiful memorials, the food you have brought, and for all your expressions of love.
- We are happy because Mom was taken just as she had always prayed. She died quickly and peacefully in her own bed, not from disease, but from the call of God to her reward.
- We are happy today because we believe God is faithful, so when He tells us the those who die in the Lord are happy, then we are happy because there is no doubt that Mom was in the Lord
- Born in 1923, Mom was raised on a farm near Justin. Her’s was a Christian family. In fact, just a few years ago, while we were out with her on a Sunday drive, we drove past the old White’s Chapel cemetery and she told us that she and her father had ridden a wagon from Justin to White’s Chapel—sometime before she was 13 and I’m guessing, shortly after she was baptized at 12—to go to a Brush Arbor meeting on that site. If she grew up like that, it’s no wonder that she made sure we were at church every time the doors were open!
- Shortly after they married, my dad was immersed. Dad became a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, an elder at Midtown all during their marriage—and I’m pretty confident that Mom’s gentle and quiet spirit had something to do with his spiritual growth.
- We her children are thankful for what we have learned from her—both as children and as adults.
- She loved us enough to discipline us: a fly swatter or ping pong paddle was always nearby. Once, I threw a dirt clod and hit Gary in the head and she put me in the closet to pray!!
- She loved us enough to teach us to work. Mary K reminded me of how Mom would rise early on some summer mornings, wake us up, so we could all go out and pull weeds before it got too hot.
- She taught us to share—Gary, Mary K, and I all shared a room (Betty, the baby was in Mom and Dad’s room) until I was almost 12. Then we moved out by Fort Worth Christian and had a three bedroom house—finally! But then Kenny was born, then Grandma Lyles came to live with us, then Grandma Woodward, and then a family at church had to move away in their son’s senior year at FWC, so Mom offered to let him stay with us! We learned to share pretty much everything!
- Mom taught us about perseverance in adversity. She was raised on a fairly poor farm during the Depression. Her father was killed in a wagon accident when she was 14, one that sent her mother into a depression. Her older brothers went to war, so she went to college (I believe the only one in her family to graduate from college). Mom and Dad had a happy marriage, but after about 20 years and five children, Dad got sick and Mom had to really support the family. Then Dad died in 1989, so she has been a widow for 25 years—but she continued teaching school, substituting until she was in her 80s (once for the football coach as she loved to tell), and working at Foley’s until then as well. She watched first her 7 brothers, then her two sisters precede her in death—along with all of their spouses, until she was the last of her family. Mom was strong!
- We learned to be curious from Mom! I grew up thinking that Mom was the Mom and Dad was the intellectual one in the family! I wasn’t wrong about Dad, but when Mom started at FWC, she was the Home Economics teacher, and they asked her to design the first home economics lab—which she did—without asking Dad…Wow! Then they asked her to teach high school chemistry—because she had had Chemistry in college 20 years earlier—before they had even invented atoms!! Then they asked her to teach Chemistry at the college level! And she loved it! Then, one day, they asked her to teach Microbiology the following year, so that summer she took Microbiology at TCU, so she could teach it the following year. I remember clearly her getting up at 4 in the morning and studying the lesson so she could teach it to her students. ///// She loved taking the Grandkids out to the backyard to look for snakes or frogs or worms. In fact, even after Dad was gone, we’d come to visit her from Oklahoma and Sherry and I would get up, hoping for the smell of bacon, but rather finding her and our children all out in the backyard doing “experiments” or something. It wasn’t unusual to find a centipede or something in a bottle of formaldehyde in her pantry—sometime the refrigerator!! Even in these last couple of years, she learned to use an IPad that Gary gave her. She also kept large medical books near so she could read up on whatever medicine the doctor had just prescribed for her.
- Mom was so curious about God—not in a theological way, but in a very practical way. At the end of her questions, one of her favorite phrases was, “Life is a Mystery!” Some curious people like Mom choose to turn their back on God because they can’t know everything. Mom taught us to just believe—especially when you don’t know all the answers. Mom was not one of those of the older generation who was afraid to die because she might not have done enough! She may have raised that question occasionally—as all of us do who want to please God more than anything else and fall short! No, Mom was a doer—even when she couldn’t find the answers to her mysteries.
- One of our earliest pictures of her as a mother is teaching the toddlers at Sunday school at the old Riverside congregation. She always taught SS at Eastridge. I don’t know how many flannel graph characters I have cut out for her. She did backyard VBS at our tiny house. She stopped teaching so much at church when she started teaching school, but I suspect all her classes were implicitly Bible classes. In these last years, she loved going to Mission Printing to prepare literature for mission churches—even bringing it home with her when she couldn’t go. She was a FriendSpeak worker and had a couple of young women that she helped with their English, but using the Let’s Start Talking material based on the book of Luke to share her faith with them. She loved going to church—was there two weeks ago—and she and her sweet caretaker Lydell even used her IPad to stream services and sermons when she didn’t feel like going. They read the Bible and prayed together every day. Even fact, because they had missed it that morning that Mom lost consciousness, Lydell went in at 2:30am and had her devotional together with her—her last one, just a couple of hours before she died. Mom loved God. And she wanted her family and friends to love God too.
- Have you heard the old joke about God writing a letter to all the good people on earth? Do you know what it said? What, you didn’t get one! Mom used to write letters too. I’m quite sure all of us children have had one, some of the grandchildren, and maybe some of you here in the audience as well. If Mom was worried about you spiritually, then you might very well get a letter from her. She was not going to confront you and have a long talk. But if she was worried about you, you could be certain she was praying for you and that you might get a letter. In these letters, she would tell you she loved you, that she was praying for you, but that you better get your life right with God! These letters were not always well-received, but I know they were always well-intentioned, written from the heart of a woman who loved her family and loved God—and she wanted all of us to share eternity with her!
- It’s a happy day because Mom loved being with her church family. She tried to never miss any service; she loved the potlucks; she loved Game Night!; she came to Visitation Night; within the last couple of months, she attended the shower for a young mother from College Hill. Getting old was not an excuse to retire from church. You don’t retire from being family. It was hard for Mom to get to family events this last year or two, but she did not miss anything!! Christmas dinner this year was quite an ordeal for her, but she told me when I took her home how wonderful it was—how much she enjoyed watching the children—no amount of chaos, no amount of infirmity could steal her joy of being with family.
And this church loved her so well. Until she was about 83, she was still driving and picking up the “old people” for church! But when she needed your help, so many of you were there to help her too. The Wasners were her lifeline to her church family for these last few years! We can’t thank you enough for what you did.
Mom was not perfect! It is not our place to confess her sins, but she would be the first to tell you that she was saved by the tender mercy of Jesus.
“Blessed are the dead in die in the Lord! For they rest from their labor and their works will follow them. (Rev. 14:13)
Mom is happy. She’s together with Dad; with her 11 brothers and sisters whom she loved dearly, and she’s with the whole church who is singing and praising the glory of God and the mercy of Jesus. She’s also looking for something she can do to be of service. Somebody will have to remind her that she can rest!
We her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, her nephews and nieces, her neighbors and church family—we are the good works that follow after her! She is with God, but her legacy are the lives that we live as a result of her work in us.
God gave her 91 years and she used all of them until she had nothing left! We will honor her if we do the same with however many years God gives us—that’s what she would want—and if you don’t, she may still figure out a way to send you a letter!