Eulogy for Edith Webster Purvis, Feb. 28, 1925 – Dec. 24, 2010
My mom set before me an example of a faith-filled life. We did not have theological discussions or pray together, but the way she lived her life showed me the importance of God to her. She grew up in an age where you didn’t talk openly about many personal subjects but I was in church every time the door opened. When my niece Jennifer was born my parents faithfully took her to church with them for years. My mom helped plant the seeds of Christ’s love that we now see blooming in Jennifer’s life today.
My mom was faithful to my dad through almost 65 years of marriage. Their love was tested through years of health problems, financial struggles and the loss of their daughter Brenda. Even when they both became unable to take care of themselves, they went into a nursing home where they could be together. Though my dad was in worse physical shape he still worried about my mom, wanting to know how she was if she was in the hospital. I remember running back and forth from rehab to Cone Hospital letting each one know the other was doing okay. As their daughter, their marriage is a legacy that I am proud of. In my mom’s own words, “the most important lesson I’ve learned about marriage is there is a lot of give and take. You have to work at keeping it going. Everything is not always what you expect it to be.” Thank you, mom, for your faithfulness to dad.
My mom was faithful to her three children. Even when I strayed she still loved me and prayed me through. When she didn’t approve of my choices, she loved me and prayed me through. As a difficult teen she put up with me, loved me and prayed me through. Abraham Lincoln said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Losing their daughter Brenda at the age of 53 was a heartbreaking loss for my parents. But they survived through their love for the Lord and each other.
My mom was faithful to her grandchildren. She always used to say to mine, “you be good to your mama.” When she didn’t understand our decision to adopt three siblings she still supported us and loved her new grandkids. When we faced difficult decisions with the children she was heartbroken along with us
My mom was also faithful to this church, teaching children’s Sunday School and adult women for almost 50 years. She was a charter member of Parkway and never even considered going anywhere else. She was extremely active in the Happy Hearts and organized many wonderful trips and adventures In her last days on this earth, I would come to her room and find her Bible on her nightstand. I think its’ mere presence was a comfort to her.
My mother loved music. She played piano at different times through the years and made sure Brenda and I took piano lessons. She always said my sister almost gave her a nervous breakdown because she wouldn’t practice. It’s a good thing I wasn’t like that. She never understood my decision to major in voice instead of piano in college, but through the years she was proud of the opportunities my piano training and college education provided me.
I am very much my mother’s daughter. From her thrifty ways to her love of all things chocolate. From her skill with details, organization and making lists to her tendency to worry. Growing up, and even in the nursing home recently, I was always told I looked like my mother. I considered that a compliment and am blessed now to have a daughter who hears the same thing about me.
The night my mother died I spent at her bedside, just like I had every day for the last three months. Since I didn’t know how much time she had left my desire was to be as faithful to her as she was to our family. Over these last three months my mom developed dementia and it was hard for our family to experience her memory loss and the confusion that resulted. The night she died she put her hands together, much as a little child would do, and I saw her lips moving with no words coming out. She then looked at me and said about herself: I worry too much, I think too much and I don’t trust enough. She told me to pray that she would have the strength to accept whatever happened. I prayed with her just as I did almost every time I left her these last three years. She walked into presence of the Lord just a few short hours later.