Friday, July 29, 2011

A Funeral I wish you could have been to

A friend's mother died and her funeral was yesterday.  I attended.  I'm close to this friend's beautiful wife and he and she have 3 outstanding sons.  This family is black.   The funeral was amazing.

The eldest grandson got up to speak about his grandmother, who was 91 when she passed on.  He talked about how she taught him to look people in the eye when you're speaking with them. He remembers that.   He told us how he used to love to spend time at his grandparents' home and watch cartoons he couldn't watch at home.  One day, something in the cartoon mentioned pork chops and so this young man as a little boy said he found himself saying out loud "I want pork chops"....Immediately, he saw his grandmother grab her purse and coat and head out the door.   He didn't realize it, but she was going to buy him pork chops for dinner. He was very little, he added, and didn't even know what pork chops were!   This stayed with this twenty-something young man all these years....what a lesson modeling teaches us.  He learned of love and quiet giving that day.  He said that, after she died, he felt she was still there in the house she'd lived in for so many years as he put his head down on her empty pillow and thought of her.  I couldn't help but cry.   I thought of this great woman who worked tirelessly for her Baptist Church and for the NAACP and for young people to have cultural opportunities they might not have had, and knew that, even with all of that community work, it was the love and the lessons she left behind to her family which meant the most.

Her son, my friend, told how he was going to be soloing at Carnegie Hall the next night and he called his mother to see how she was feeling.  He was a grown man filled with fear that any performer gets but didn't want her to hear it.  She asked if he was fine, and he assured her he was.  But, a mother reads between the lines, doesn't she.  She said "Honey, the Lord has laid out a big table for you....'he prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies...'  You go eat from that table, you can't just 'eat and run'!  You remember to read that when we hang up."  He did, and he did a wonderful job the next night. 

I gazed around the church, which was about 99% full of Black Americans, and thought about how beautifully, respectfully dressed these people were.  No cut-offs and flip flops, but dark suits on that warm day, women in suits and high heels and stockings even in that heat.   Eloise had dressed like a lady and they sure weren't going to do any less for her, let me tell you.  From the pulpit, one man said he'd never called her Eloise, he's always called her Mrs.S(***) (*I don't want to put her last name here for privacy sake).  She was that kind of woman.

I thought about this blog and how often comments are filled with anger at the Black community for the crime and lousy politicians we all hear about.  You would sure never know any of that existed while you were with this crowd.  Just like you don't think of  White crime when you're at a White funeral.  The people I was surrounded with yesterday were concerned that I hadn't got a church bulletin (they'd run out by the time I got there) and shared theirs with me so I could read whatever I wanted to see on it (who was talking, what the name of a particular hymn was, etc.).  We laughed and wept at the same lines as friend after friend and family member after family member paid homage to an incredible woman. 

This was about being American and losing a great person from the community.  This had nothing to do with Black and White.  The people there were no worse and no better than any White bunch in any church.  Except, I have seen some White funerals with people not dressed with as much dignity as these people were yesterday.

This was all about INTEGRITY and RESPECT and DIGNITY. HONOR.  Those words were there with all of us as much as if they'd been plastered in large letters across the altar.  ELOISE dressed appropriately, ELOISE was kind, ELOISE gave of herself to her community and her family, ELOISE gave everything she did all she had.  And she left her stamp on all the folks at that funeral yesterday.   I thought how much I wished I could ever be like Eloise.

Eloise might have been White, but she wasn't. It makes absolutely no difference.  Black or White, she was total LADY, a woman of love and discipline and great faith.  She was a woman every child on this planet should have for a grandmother, black or white.

This is what I left thinking:  we hear a lot about the problems in the Black community and we forget to remember the problems are no different than that of the White community.  And the good stuff deserves to be said about both colors, too, about all Americans, some in each color doing their best, some in each color not doing their best.

I'll just leave you with that..........I wanted, somehow, to share this experience with you.  So, there you go. I wish you could have been with me.    I'll share one more thing, her son said she told him she was unhappy a few days before she passed away.  He asked her why.   She asked if he was okay with the fact that she was going (she'd told them all, for a year, she was eager to get to heaven and be with the Lord and with her husband who died shortly after Mr Z did, nearly 2 years ago).  Her son told her he was very okay with it.  When he had finally assured her that he knew where she was going and that he knew she'd be happier there and that he was happy for her, this lady who he said very rarely ever used this expression,  raised both her arms and said "Praise God!"    She died about two days later, when she knew her family would be okay.

Eloise, you were QUITE a woman.........we should all be like you.  Black OR White.  Color has NOTHING to do with it.



Anonymous said...

"Eloise, you were QUITE a woman.........we should all be like you. Black OR White. Color has NOTHING to do with it."

I'll say. She needed to be cloned for all people to use as an example...of what respect, dedication and the power of God Almighty really means in ones life.

Especially those who need it most.

Z said...

Imp, so well said.
What an example this wonderful woman was....and will be.

Anonymous said...

My black friends are nothing like the flim-flam most often shown on national television. It is easy to step past skin color; you only have to be human and judge people according to their character. You don’t see much of this among the left or their enablers.

May God bless Eloise, and her grieving family. May God have mercy upon us all ...

Pris said...

Yes Z, color has nothing to do with it. Goodness doesn't know color.

It only knows the impact and legacy which is left for others, and that can't be denied.

Z said...

If you all just could have met Eloise. I hardly knew her, but when she came into a room, you wanted to stand up and give her your seat. She was so gracious with everyone and raised such an amazing family.......the best of EVERYTHING is this family.

thanks, guys....

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

These Americans are dying and they know it. They are like you and me and their only difference is melanin. You and I would have been proud to have them as neighbors but time and circumstances intervened. Then, we were more alike than we cared to readily admit.

That said, the people at the funeral embraced a time that has clearly now passed. When kids called neighbors Mr and Mrs. When there was ACTUAL respect and not just a word thrown about because. And so many more items for discussion.

But I would leave you with this, as so aptly illustrated by your post:

You can never know, NEVER, what SMALL act committed by YOU --

-- becomes translated as a MAJOR act in the life of someone surrounding you and near you. You can and will NEVER know.

All you can do is hope that you have lived your life in such a way as to have potentially influenced one person, one way -- and took them, perhaps, off one faulty road and onto the positive track of another.

You may never know. But you can, as displayed here, be assured.

If you are a Good Person.


Bob said...

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and was an engineer at the dominant TV/AM/FM station in town when Dr. King was killed. Those were difficult times for racial relations.

As a society, we have come a long way since then. As most people have observed, racism was not unique to Southern culture. Northerners were probably the most biased and racist around.

I believe you can judge people in how far they have come in loving their neighbors as Jesus commanded. My black next door neighbor basically agrees, and we are both Christians. That gives us much, much more in common than just being human beings. We are good friends, and look forward to seeing each other's grandchildren visit so we can have fun as only grandparents can.

Live is wonderful, and all God's creation is a wonderful thing to behold. Thank God for our diversity and thank God for my neighbors. They are the best we have ever had.

Spurious Missives

Opus #6 said...

May she rest in the hollow of God's hand.

She sounds like a great lady and a matriarch for her family. It is a role we should all aspire to.

sue said...

BZ - You are right.

One act of random kindness at a time.

Z said...

BZ, I think you're right; Eloise probably will never know the huge impression she made by things she said and did.
You should have heard her daughter-in-law talk about her, crying from time to time; she adored the woman.
Many women can't say THAT about their mothers in law :-)

Bob, your relationship with your neighbor sounds wonderful. May I ask how you do on politics together?

Opus; I hoped this would inspire a lot of mothers and fathers.
I'm afraid BZ is right; this kind of woman with SUCH dignity is a dying breed.

Sue, it was such a moving experience to be there. I have a lot of images that go through my mind from that 1 1/2 hours and wish I could share them all.

Bob said...

Z: My neighbor and I have had only a couple of political arguments, and we both respect the idea that arguing is not constructive for our relationship. So, I have learned to not talk politics, and he does likewise.

Just this morning, we had a nice conversation for about 15 minutes, and neither he nor I brought up the stupid debt ceiling fight.

The funny thing is, the guy is so cheap (self-admitted) that I don't understand how he could favor any tax increases.

But, I'm not going there with him.

Lisa said...

that was a beautiful story Z thank you for sharing it.
I lived in a mixed neighborhood and unfortunately was forced to move after a consistent string of house robberies ours included so you can see how certain experiences can form opinions. I saw alot of things that would turn one off looking from the outside in and some lefties would call me racist for even mentioning it, but I would mention if it were white crime too,but it wasn't.
Anyway I had one very dear Friend who was black and since passed away and was one of the kindest people I knew.
She lived with us for a while too and I used to take her out with my friends and they all loved her.
She came from a really bad area and was afraid to open the curtains at night so just shows that many in the black community rejected crime as well.
One thing she did that I will never forget is we went out dancing and there was a group of people there and one of the guys in that group brought his brother with down syndrome. My friend "Yvonne" grabbed him for a slow dance and when it was over she grabbed his face and kissed him on top of his head. His brother went up to her and thanked her profusely for being so nice to him. I have never seen anyone do something like that especially without any hesitation. It came natural to her to do that.
Just one of those great memories I have.
At her funeral there was alot of singing . It was really different to see the rejoicing.

Rita said...

Here's the problem. Have you ever seen a national tv coverage of a horrible tornado that hit the state of Indiana? I have, especially since I have spent all of my 52 years here.

So when they show the victims of a Midwest tornado, they are ALWAYS trailer park hicks who can't put two words together.

I'm always embarrassed when I see the national coverage of my state and I was born and raised a hick. I wonder if everyone then thinks that is who we are.


So, when the MSM plays some coverage of the black community, it's invariably the same thing. They film and televise the stereotype, especially the inner city types of either color.

To me the racist are people like Jerry Springer or Ricky Lake, who put the worst of the worst on tv and reinforce the stereotype of people of color.

And MSM only want to paint people like Condi Rice as evil. God forbid they show a person of color who is well educated, brilliant and successful.

Sounds like Eloise never got to prove to America that having class has nothing to do with the color of your skin because she would never make the national news because her class didn't suit THEIR stereotype.

Z said...

Lisa, what a very beautiful story. And we know there are thousands upon thousands of Yvonne's and, as

RITA says....'who'll hear about THEM?'

I just felt it so important to talk about this funeral and about how it was so clear to me, as all the commenters agree with here, THIS was a woman of DIGNITY and HONOR and GOODNESS no matter WHAT color she was.

And I am SICK of the negative media on Black America.

Lisa, you're right; there are countless horror stories about black crime, and much of it's deserved, let's face it, but there's white crime , too, tons of that........and ..well...and what? There's no answer.

All I can say for an answer is WE NEED MORE MOTHERS LIKE ELOISE.

Z said...

RITA, by the way, I don't know what brought you here to geeeZ, but I'm glad it did.

Grant said...

Z: I'm not exactly sure how I got here either. You follow a link, that follows a link that follows a link and the next thing you know you're somewhere lost in America.

I'd say it's pretty cool because you can connect with all kinds of people from everywhere that way.

But I suspect it's because I found a link on Bloviating Zeppelin, who comments on Pitchpull, who I found online but actually grew up in the same neighborhood I did. Supports that "six degree" theory I suppose.

Rita said...

Ooops, that was me. Hate that stupid google/yahoo sign in connection. Messes me up every time.

Rita said...

OK, I have to confess. I just accidentally stereotyped you GeeeeZ. I assumed you were a male, seems most political blogs that agree as I do are written by men.

And THEN I read your profile.

Ok, stereotyping tells ME that someone in the Arts would be a flaming liberal, but someone in the Arts from LA????? Of course you could never believe in the same things as someone who lives in the Midwest.

See where the stupid stereotypes get us?

So, are you all alone out there in Godless California because we never hear of anyone that seems to live a normal life there? According to what I see on my TV there are no conservatives in California.

Z said...

According to what we see on TV, every other person in America's gay, too, Rita :-)

Yes, there are PLENTY of Conservatives in this State; just not ENOUGH by a LONG SHOT, sadly.

I have a friend who's a painter who literally can't tell her rich clients she's not a liberal! She's been shunned and lost clients that way.
I can tell you tons of stories like that.....
but there are A LOT OF CONSERVATIVES here.

Rita, I had a hunch that hero in your story was your husband but I have to admit I'd read pretty carefully, got all the amazing points, but read fairly quickly and might have missed it.
Why not include that at the end of that moving piece?!!

Z said...

Rita, those are the pieces my husband "Mr. Z" wrote for this blog and the top ones are posts I wrote about him, in his honor; he died 21 months ago very suddenly of Amyloidosis.
I hope you find the time to read the one about his American patriotism. He was from Germany.
I hope you like the stuff there....

Rita said...

I'll read that now. And I didn't include the part about me being "the wife" because the story wasn't about me. It was long 20 years before he even met me. I was glad he finally wanted to share his story. He even asked me to print it out for his family and daughters, which was surprising. But he only wanted me to give it to them as we were leaving, he would not be there as they read it.

Sorry you lost Mr. Z. I can't imagine (and don't want to) imagine how hard that is.

Z said...

Rita, thanks.
No, you don't want to imagine it...believe me.

Susannah said...

"According to what we see on TV, every other person in America's gay, too,"

Yep, and all Southerners are racist, hayseed, knuckle-dragging good-old-boys, too...
Hilarious!! And so true - MSM pushing their agenda, for sure.

MK said...

Nicely said Z. My condolences for the loss of your friend. She sounds like quite the woman.

I never really knew my grand parents, but i still remember sitting with my grandpa many years ago, such a lovely person, i still miss him today and wish i could have known him better.