A Eulogy for Our Mother


Dr. Robert B. Pankey

When Denny, Tom and I were young boys, there were three words that my mother said to us each morning; five days a week, nine months a year for 12 years, she would bark out in a loud roar, ”Rise and Shine!”  That was our alarm clock.  We would usually say thanks to her, then race to be the first to use the bathroom and fight for the largest piece of sausage or bacon before we headed out the door for school I simply do not know how Mary Pankey managed to get all of us up and out the door, moving in the same direction, with breakfast in our stomachs and clothes on our backs.

My mother didn't have the benefit of a higher education.  She was the smartest person I've ever known.  She didn't have a diploma or degree from any university, but she had a Ph.D. in “life” and yet another one in “love.”

Many of my friends thought of her highly, and they would say of her that she did so much for her sons.  It was said that perhaps she loved us too much.  But, as I grew and had my own children, I realized that Mary Pankey taught us that we can never do too much for our children, and even more, we can never love them too much!

We often forget the circumstances surrounding our life at home when we are growing up.  Mary Pankey had to be both mother and father to us.  We had a father when we were young, but during the most difficult years of our lives, our father passed away.  It was mom who did for us, it was mom who watched out for us, it was mom who calmed our fears, motivated us, cleaned our clothes, cooked our three-square meals and stayed up late until we all returned home in the evenings.  It was mom who said that one day things would get better for us when my father passed and that the light at the end of the tunnel was not going to be an oncoming train.  She was right!

There are so many memories of her that I scarcely know where to begin.  One that seems to be standing out most is when we moved to Carbondale's suburb from the downtown area.  We moved into a home that had the conveniences of central heat and air conditioning.  Unfortunately, we had central heat in the summer and central air in the winter it seemed.

We had many rough times after my father died.  Many times, we didn't have much food in the refrigerator, but somehow, someway, mom always put something on the table for us to eat.  She always made sure we were well clothed, and never went without.

What I remember most was my mother sitting up all night on the couch downstairs by the fire, watching the television and occasionally falling asleep, with a blanket around her shoulders to protect her from the bitter cold.  She would quietly worry, quietly pray for us boys to come home safely throughout those cold, miserable nights.  This was my mother.  I've often thought the highest praise you can give any woman is to say she is or was a “good mother.”

Another funny thing about Mary Pankey---if you knew my mom you would appreciate her sense of humor and her love of laughter.  These were other examples of how she led her life.  Instead of saying something mean, she would put the burden on herself.  My mom was always kind and found the good in people.  She would see the “Jesus” in you and everyone around her.

All of us in the family, including myself, would ask her to do things for us.  Mom, can you wash this; Mom, can you cook this; Mom, can I borrow the keys to the car; or can I have a few dollars mom?  She never hesitated to serve her family.  She never said, “I'm too busy,” or “I have to do this,” or any other excuses.

For the first time in our lives, Denny, Tom and I will face a Mother's Day without our beloved mother.  It will be difficult, to be sure.

Mary Pankey taught us how to laugh, how to love ourselves and others, how to give comfort, how to live our lives morally, and at the end of her life, mom showed us how to die.  I comfort myself in the knowledge that she's with Jesus and my father Harry.

Mary Pankey no longer suffers from crippling arthritis, a broken hip, heart disease, high blood pressure, lost vision, deafness and other problems that I can't begin to mention.  Despite all those troubles, my mother's spirit and faith in God remained unshaken; she believed in the Lord with all her might.

My mother was in this world when she was alive but she was not of this world.  She lived on a different spiritual plane than most of us.  And that was reflected in the way she led her life - in her outgoing demeanor, her prayerful life, her constant devotion to her family and her unheralded acts of compassion and forgiveness - only to be followed by her unparalleled unconditional way of loving.

Many people have said to me, “I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother.” I am here to tell you I have lost no one.  I know with great assuredness, exactly where my mother is.  I also know where to find her.  She is in the book of gospels.  My mother was a living angel.

In her mind was the everlasting thought, “How can I give?”  She sought always to be a friend, a helping hand, a uniter, never to be a burden or divider.

Her soul was warmed by the fire of hope and lifted with the excitement of joy.  Every day she spent on this earth she knew was a gift from God and she willingly passed that on to all whom she touched.

I don't propose to speak for her.  I don't have to, as her life spoke plainly: “Keep the faith; it will never fail you.”

Hold all you know in love closely and dearly and give all that you can, with all of your heart, every hour of every day.  There is the path to peace and joy.

I know my mom would not want us to be sad after her passing, though it is impossible to let her pass without many, many tears.  But please pledge with me today, because I know she would want it this way - remember her only in joy and happiness.  That is the gift she leaves for all of us.

Keep her in your heart and hold on tight!

Mary will always be my loving mother, my dearest friend.  This is only a goodbye to her dignified, worldly body.  Her gifts will continue to sustain us until we meet again.

Today, I am happy to tell you, my mother is going home, and she's dancing in victory before the Lord.  She has fought the good fight, and I am sure that the Lord has said unto her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, well done.”

Finally, someday my brothers and I must pass from this world, just as we all must.  By the grace of God, when we enter into His Heavenly Kingdom, somehow, someway, I just know that I will hear that sweet, familiar voice cry out and say “Rise and Shine,” and I will turn to her and say, “Thanks Mom. Thanks for Everything!”


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