When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
2 Timothy 1:5
My grandmother—“Mamaw”—died on Mother’s Day 1970. I had taken the babies to visit Mama and Daddy in Texarkana. We were at church when the call came. A family friend stepped forward to keep my children so that I could make the 400-mile drive with my parents to New Orleans, where my grandmother had moved as a bride in 1899. She outlived her husband, two children, two great-grandchildren, her 12 siblings and all her friends.
Family poured in from all over the country for what was truly a celebration of her life and our last big family reunion. Only one granddaughter was missing, and she wasn’t notified until after the service. She was on some island in the Pacific with her large family while her husband served as an Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War. No one wanted her to attempt to make the long trip.
As short-term memory faded and life became more circumscribed, Mamaw retained the great loves of her life: First Baptist Church, which she had joined as a bride; her family; the New Orleans Times-Picayune; and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who rescued her from poverty with the creation of Social Security.
Dr. J.D. Gray, legendary pastor of First Baptist Church, preached her funeral, using as his text Proverbs 31:10–31: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies….” We sang Mamaw’s favorite hymn, with its refrain so appropriate at that moment:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
This year, when I decided to make Mother’s Day a memorial service rather than a celebration, I pulled out the King James Version that I gave my mother in 1972. There, on the Presentation Page, I had written “Proverbs 31:28”—biblical shorthand for the verse, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
As surely as Mamaw was my Lois, Mama was my Eunice. They both exemplified the Christian virtues of faith, love, mercy, compassion, unselfishness, generosity and kindness. They modeled how to be a mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. When Mama died in 1988, the minister preached from Proverbs 31:10–31; and we sang, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
I have written about them both in my book, for they were and are powerful role models. And I say with the Apostle Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
Photo, taken before 1951: My grandmother, my mother (center) and her sisters
Do you have a Lois or a Eunice in your life? Tell us about her.