A Eulogy for My Mother

ALW-Mother-Eulogy-BlogInstead of regaling people with charming anecdotes about my childhood (dancing to “I’m a Little Teapot” in the living room) or relaying repetitive accolades (“Your mother was one of the most influential people in my life.”) about how precious my mother was—and she was dear—when giving her eulogy on February 23, I instead read three passages I dug out of one of my “memory boxes” while crying and packing my suitcase for Mississippi after my sister Ann phoned to say, “This is the call you never want to get.” Bits and pieces from a long life well lived that illustrate, better than a hundred family snapshots, what made Martha Lee Lyles Wilson (1922-2016) such a remarkable woman.

One was a quote she included in a birthday card she sent me; another was a passage she wrote on a sheet of yellow legal-pad paper; and the third was a quote she cut out from a magazine. In short, these snippets reveal how my mother made her way in the world, and how she inspired those around her to follow her lead as best we are able:

“Those people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who lived their lives like the stars of heaven and the lilies in the field, perfect, simply, and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold us.”—Oswald Chambers

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”—John Wesley

“But where do I start? The world is so vast; I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is very large; I better start with my town—but my town, too, is large. I had better start with my street. No, my family. Oh well, never mind. I shall start with myself.”—Elie Wiesel

I don’t know if the quotes she clung to are punctuated or even worded exactly as they appeared in print, and to me it doesn’t matter. The philosophies are clear, and they now have a permanent place in my heart, right alongside my mother.

Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.

Obituary for Martha Lee Lyles Wilson


12 responses to “A Eulogy for My Mother”

  1. Stephanie Ford Avatar
    Stephanie Ford

    Beautiful offering. I love how you didn’t check the quotes–letting her voice be the one you read them in.
    Comfort and peace to you, Amy.

    1. Thank you, Stephanie. Hope all is well in your world.

  2. sally randall Avatar
    sally randall

    love this! She was a true jewel. A true friend to my Mother and she made us all feel as if she loved us too. She was so dear and I cant think of a better word that fits her best . She was very dear to the Cadens and Randalls and I will always remember her! I know Mother is happy to be with her again. What a wonderful woman she was to so many -and yet somehow she had this wonderful way of making me feel like I was the most special to her when Mother and I were with her. That little girl in me with cherish those moments. What a gift she was!

    1. Thank you, Sally. I remember your mother fondly as well. Those two were the last of a classy breed. Sis never treated me like a kid, and instead spoke to me as if I could hold my own with adults. I was desperate not to be considered juvenile, so I was grateful for your mother’s respect and interest. What a smart, funny, and dear woman. We were both lucky in the mother department.

  3. Oh Amy… these are the things that make you so dear. And like you, I’m sure, made your mother so dear to you. Blessings to you, dear friend.

    1. Thank you, Bruce. What a ride…

  4. Ann Holifield Avatar
    Ann Holifield

    Beautifully written, as always!

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Thinking of you and your family, Amy.

    1. Thank you, Les. She was a treasure, and I’m lucky to have had her as my mother.

  6. Just . Lovely . You are Martha’s daughter, dear heart. ❤

    1. What a compliment. Thank you, friend. So glad you knew Mother.