It’s an odd thing to say that a eulogy was inspirational. Yet for Milly, how could it be anything less? And, it’s unusual to laugh out loud at the words the minister says about someone who is deceased. But again, when it comes to Milly…
It happened like this:
Milly’s funeral, a memorial service, was held in an old New England church – 250 years old to be exact – in pouring rain and humidity that felt like I was sitting in the rain. My husband and I arrived quite early, only to discover everyone else had the same idea. The church was packed. Sardines in a sauna. The minister was a young man who didn’t know Milly well. He began by telling the congregation of his first meeting with Milly.
“Where’s my quilt?” Milly asked me. I’ve had plenty of odd questions, but that one took the cake. Here I was, new to the church, and this woman comes right up to me and asks about her quilt. What quilt?
Everyone is laughing! And the minister continues.
You see, Milly had made a huge quilt for the 250th anniversary of the church. I had no idea, but Milly told me all about it. And, where was it? After months of searching, the quilt was found tucked away in a box during renovations. We found her quilt four days after she died. It now hangs again.
I look around and see the faces of many quilters and friends. Milly is at peace. Be sad if you must, but she would want you to celebrate her life. She is at peace.
Peace! Of course. No wonder the Peace Quilts we made together are wonderful. That was Milly. Yup!
A church that was full of quilters knew the story he told. I didn’t. After all, my time with Milly was only in the last ten years. I looked around and thought of all the experiences and quilting she, and they, must have had. I felt like a little girl at Thanksgiving listening to all the stories the grown-ups told. And so, I listened.
Milly’s son gave the eulogy. He pointed out two quilts displayed in front of the alter alongside all the flowers. One was the first quilt he had as a child. The other was a recent one.
Mom made it this year, and I asked her if I could have it. I’ve never asked her for a quilt. She was so happy. So now I have two, one from the beginning of my life, and one from the end of hers.
When Mom first became sick and was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, I spent that night with her. She told me story after story, things I’d never known. She was happy. Afterwards, she had no recollection of that night nor the stories she had told.
I had witnessed her soul.
My mother can be described in one word. Love.