I wrote a eulogy for Momma. Juanita Boone Wisman 1929 – 2015
God doesn’t make mistakes. This is one of the many lessons taught to me over the years by my mother. While there were a million things my mother told me when I was a child… it seems to be this one that stuck the most. When her mother died and it took every ounce of energy she had to get out of bed in the morning, she would still say, “God doesn’t make mistakes,” and I watched her draw on him for comfort and strength. When her sister died suddenly right in front of her, she still believed this to be true. My mother lived her words of wisdom, she didn’t just say them. I found a journal a few months back. In it Momma was keeping track of what she was thankful for and sometimes how she felt. It’s from 1996 and 1997. It doesn’t have a huge amount of entries, but I wanted to share some excerpts from it as I tell you a little about Juanita Boone Wisman.
My earliest memory of momma is being very tall, with big hair and looking very beautiful. She was always on the go, never stopping, it seemed to me as a child. I would wonder when she rested because she was always up late and up early. JOURNAL Entry – I wish I could feel the way I use to. Kind of feel sorry for myself, very ashamed when I do that. I’m very lucky. God has blessed me over and over.
My mother spent the majority of our childhood in the basement washing clothes. She use to joke that someday she would be found passed away in the basement with a load of laundry running. Every child she had probably had some of our deepest conversations with her while sitting near the ironing board as she hung up clothes.
She listened to each of us as if we were the only people on earth. Teachers thought we were only children because of our mother’s dire devotion. A new teacher once said my brother’s behavior was normal for an only child. “What?”, said Momma, “an only child?, there are 4 more at home!” One time someone asked my oldest brother, Witt, what kind of mom he had. He said she was perfect. The kind of mother, who after you had confessed to murder, would say, “you know you shouldn’t have done that, son. Now where can we hide the body?” That fierce loyalty to her children and then her grandchildren was known by all of her friends and family. She told us all that we were her favorite people. She was our most loyal fan, our truest confidante and our greatest cheerleader. JOURNAL Entry – I’m thankful for my children, always, every day of my life. I’m thankful for my grandchildren. I’m thankful for my sons and daughter-in laws. This particular entry occurred over and over in her journal. There are journal entries of her trips with Tina and Jean, her best friends. She loved to travel and see things and go shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. JOURNAL Entry – We went shopping this afternoon. I got shoes, surprise, surprise. I’m really not well, but I am going to give Beth some when I get home! She later wrote.. I dread the long drive home, but I am going towards the people I love.
We will all have vivid memories of Mom at ball games, yelling for her child or grandchild… and yelling AT the referee! I have awesome pictures etched in my mind of Mom sitting on her back porch with her grandkids… one or the other and they are just talking to her. . . I can’t hear them , , , but I can see the love overflowing off that back porch. . . just as her many hanging baskets of flowers always did. The last words her granddaughters would hear as they took care of her, “You’re my angel. I’m awfully grateful God gave you to me.”
Lewy Body Dementia took Momma over about 3 or more years ago. It made for memories that were both hard and funny. One time she was reading about her diagnosis and she said, “I don’t like the word dementia, even I know that means you are screwy!”
Her last weeks were very, very hard. Her finals moments were very peaceful, as I sang her favorite hymn to her, I saw her lips moving. Final JOURNAL Entry – I’m getting ready to go home.
Every family claims to have a heritage.. that which is most important and is to be passed along to future generations. The spiritual heritage our parents passed on is unmistakably the greatest gift ever to be given to a family. The grace and mercy and faithfulness of our Lord, Jesus Christ has been handed down from generation to generation. Best advice I ever received? “Make Jesus your best friend”, said Momma, “then everything will be okay”. JOURNAL Entry – I’m thankful for God never ever forsaking me. I have never been alone. I’m thankful for my faith. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . there’s just something about that name.
Losing momma is a devastating loss. Pain is a testament to the power of human love. We wouldn’t hurt this much if we did not love this much. That is what we do. As the bible teaches us, we do not mourn as those who have no hope…. Our faith will see us through.
Joy may seem to pause for a while as we grieve, but when we allow our broken hearts to be comforted by Christ, we will experience them again. Every person, every walk of life, every kind of past, has hope thru the Resurrection of Christ for this not to be the end. The doors to the Kingdom of heaven are wide open. Remember, as Momma would say, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” May we all be comforted in knowing Momma has walked through the gates of heaven and is with her Lord and Savior and we will see her again in eternity.
I’ll leave you with some final words straight from Juanita.
On one of her last few lucid days, Taylor was asking her questions. “What do you think about everything, Nannie?”
“I think…the world is wonderful…and there are a lot of nice people in it. And we should do our best to be the most understanding and kind to them…and not give up on them.”