Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Here are the words that JT spoke today at his grandmother's funeral...He is such a handsome, well spoken man whom I love dearly.  In his words there are lessons to be learned...they are not just about his mamaw so enjoy. 

"It is a difficult task to take a few short minutes and sum up someone’s life. It is especially difficult if that person has left an indelible mark on so many people and lived an incredibly full life. Mamaw has five children; nine grandchildren; sixteen great-grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter. What a legacy this amazing and beautiful woman leaves. To honor her, I want to share a few lessons Mamaw taught me. If she could speak to us today, other than “Why don’t you all go get something to eat. You look hungry” and “Stop making a fuss over me. Why did you go to this trouble?” I think she would talk about these things:

Choose happiness:

If there was anyone among us who had a justified reason to be bitter and be a complainer, it was Mamaw. At an early age, she lived through the Great Depression and went to work in a Laundromat to help support her family. She had the unenviable task of burying her husband, her eldest son, her baby girl, a beloved son-in-law, and a great grandson. Yet this remarkable woman chose to spend her life singing and dancing. She did not blame her circumstances and life’s pitfalls on God or others. She made a choice to be joyful and happy.

Laugh loudly and laugh often- especially at yourself:

Everyone here knows that Mamaw’s sense of humor is legendary. She was especially adept at poking fun of herself. Anyone new to the family has heard about her lawsuit against the city of Louisville . She loved to make fun of the fact that she was very short. I have a picture of Mamaw with Chris Marcus, a former NBA player who was 7’1” that I worked with at WKU; she literally came up to his waist in this classic picture. I encourage you to ask Uncle Ronny about Mamaw’s take on Sunday, the Sabbath. I will always remember the stash of PG13 and R-rated greeting/birthday cards she hid in her bedroom. Whenever I would visit she would give me one and swear me not to tell Aunt Linda or my Mom where I got it. Her laugh and sense of humor was a treasure.

Live everyday to its fullest:

Mamaw was one of the smartest people I ever met while only possessing a 6th grade education. She realized you only get one shot at life and she squeezed as much life out of 95 years as anyone ever has. I would sit amazed at her working crossword puzzles with relative ease. Did anyone else ever get swindled to take one of her short walks? By the time you got home, you had covered all of Portland twice in record time. Man, she could move for a short lady. She enjoyed this life and all it had to offer.

Family is the most important thing:

Mamaw was a great family member because she always had our back. She was so admirable because of how precisely she raised her children and ran her home. She sacrificed for her family. I never saw her buy herself anything other than the absolute necessities. I see so much of her in so many different people in this room. And that is her legacy. She, and the life she led, lives in and through us. Though we have lost the lynchpin and matriarch of this family, her life teaches us that this life is to be lived fully and family far too important for petty disagreements and differences to come between us. I urge this family to use this event to draw closer together as a unit, not separate. Staying together, through good and bad, is the way she would want things.

To Love with all you have:

Mamaw loved us all unconditionally. The most vivid example I can give of this is during our adoption of Tedi. Mamaw grew up in a time where my son would not be able to enter the same restaurants, places of business, even houses of worship just because of the color of skin God gave him. Sadly, many people Mamaw’s age still hold firm to these shallow and antiquated thoughts. Not our Mamaw. Her treatment of others different from her was very progressive and one of her most prominent Christ-like features. When Natalie and I first told her she would have a black great-grandson who was born 7500 miles away and would have no common DNA with our family, her words were: “I don’t care if he’s black, white, yellow or purple. He’s mine and I love him.” He’s mine and I love him.

In closing, I believe there is a DAV in heaven and that she has already walked there numerous times and bought herself nothing. I would bet she has drug Aunt Margie and Eli there also. She may have even convinced Uncle Bobby and Papaw to go with her once. We love you Mamaw. Thank you for blessing our lives so richly for so long. We are the lucky ones. We cannot wait to get to heaven to party with you again. I hope you have a bowl of chilli waiting for me. "


  1. BEAUTIFUL! What a beautiful tribute you wrote JT! You're in my thoughts and prayers. Hope to see you in May to give you a hug!

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful speech it was - delivered with such honest poise + joy for a kind woman's legacy. If I was JT, I would have cried all the way through....because I most definitely cried when we got to the Tedi part :) I was honored to 'funeral crash' with my sweet friends!