KEEPSAKES OF THE HEART
On October 17, 2002, we said our final ‘Good-bye" to "Miss Emma," who had been a part of our family since she and Granddaddy Waller married on December 31, 1962. During that almost 40 years, she had endeared herself to all of us. She was the only Waller grandmother most of the grandchildren remember, and she was well deserving of the love and respect given her.
As long as she was able, she was an important part of all our family events, On her 90th birthday, Don’s brother William Lowe, his sister Mildred, and Don hosted a reception at Clear Creek Church. Also, at that time we included a lengthy tribute to her in an issue of Seasons. The past two years we gathered at Avent Park on her birthday. She enjoyed watching all the little people play back and forth. They often ran by her, paused to hug her and felt her loving embrace in return. As new generations came, it was priceless to see her hold each little baby, talking sweet little baby talk. The year she was 94, someone said, ‘Come now, Miss Emma, blow out your candles." She looked at the 94, then coyly cut her eyes around, looked at those standing around her, and said, "Who knows, I may just live to be a hundred." None of us doubted that she just might do that! After all, one of her grandfathers lived alert and active until he died at 112.
Since March 3,1998, we have missed her from the home place. At that time she needed the kind of care available in the retirement home, and we moved her with furniture and mementos which seemed important to her. Though she was too kind to ask to come back home, she missed her house and yard and surroundings.
She always asked, ‘How are things out your way?' She inquired about Don’s crop and about all the family. She often commented that more than anything she missed Clear Creek Church. We assured her that her house was just as she left it, that Don was keeping her yard well, and that she was greatly missed at Clear Creek Church. She had been faithful in her attendance at the church. After her safety required that she give up driving, which was during those years Don and I were back and forth to Jackson, neighbors very kindly took her to church and to club meetings when we were away.
We were saddened during these last years as her dementia worsened. We continued to include her in the family gatherings and activities with which she could cope. This fall we saw that she was becoming very weak and that she had much difficulty walking. She fell often, but as she was being helped up, she was declaring, "I’m not hurt." She adamantly refused a walker or wheel chair, saying, "I don’t need a wheel chair."
All of us had hoped she would not become bedridden. God was merciful. She died very quietly in her room being ministered to by a caring staff. Her death was so fast that Susan was the only family member who got there before she died though Beth and Don were hurrying in that direction.
Don asked me to begin notifying the widely scattered Wailer clan. Susan and Beth thoughtfully went to tell Miss Emma’s sisters, Madge Minor and Dale Overstreet, and I asked one of Miss Emma’s nieces to make the other Winter family contacts. I began about 5 p.m., and we coordinated calls from East Long Meadow, Massachusetts, through Oxford and Jackson, and on to Dallas, Texas, to conclude before 10 p.m.
Susan, Beth, and Don selected a beautiful bronze casket and coordinating vault, and Susan and Beth selected an appropriate dress. (None of her lovely suits could be used because she had lost so much weight.) Bobby Phelps and Rocky Kennedy did an excellent job on her hair and makeup. She looked just like our Miss Emma dressed for church. We used a strand of pearls and pearl earrings (which were removed before burial). A number of years ago she had told Susan’s daughter Joanna she wanted her to have her wedding band and engagement ring.
Plans began to come together for her funeral. Years ago Don’s sister Mildred had told Bill Jr. to be prepared to give her eulogy. As Miss Emma and I had once in conversation spoken of our favorite scriptures and hymns, she had said she always liked "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord." She said that Granddaddy always liked, "Ready," as though that carried through to her also. We also knew she was especially fond of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow."
Reverend Charles Lipe, her pastor, was asked to have scripture, prayer, and brief comments. Susan, Mary Beth, and Joanna would sing "Ready," and Beckie Briscoe Bennett sang "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." Bill Jr. would do an eulogy, and each of the other grandchildren were given an opportunity to share comments.
At the service, Bill’s remembrances, many including Granddaddy WaIler, covered a wide range, both serious and humorous. Phil Wade, Mildred’s son, spoke of the sense of stability he had felt while growing up spending time with Granddaddy and Miss Emma Our daughter Susan shared that she and Miss Emma enjoyed a special bond as they gardened, canned, and froze vegetables together. Miss Emma had also made Susan’s girls, Mary Beth and Joanna, special clothes which Susan continues to treasure. In her closing comments, Susan read from a copy of a letter Joanna had written to "Mimi" and placed in the memorial drawer of Miss Emma’s casket. It was a beautiful letter. Joanna, the younger of Susan’s daughters, was born during the time of Granddaddy’s last illness before his death. After giving him up, Miss Emma seemed to fill that void by helping with the care of Joanna Susan prayed the closing prayer.
The six Waller grandsons, Bill Waller Jr., Bob Waller, Eddy Waller, Don Waller, Phil Wade, and Andy Waller carried the casket of their cherished Miss Emma. As we and Miss Emma’s Winter family made our way from the church to the grave in the almost sacred Clear Creek Cemetery, I was touched to see Bill Jr.’s young son Clayton and Andy’s 10-year-old son Chase help their fathers carry the casket, stand by their fathers through the graveside service, then walk by the casket. Clayton placed his father’s boutonniere on the floral piece as he passed.
As we stood near the grave after the service was concluded, I noticed three of the little girls peering over into the vault. I suggested to Don that he go and explain this detail to them; however, their grandfather, Bill Sr., had already done that.
I feel that these great grandchildren from William Waller III, who is 22, through Andy’s not-quite-five-year-old Matt had a healthy exposure to death, funeral home visitation, riding in procession from the funeral home to the church where they filed in behind Miss Emma’s three surviving sisters—Madge Minor, Marine Morrow, and Dale Overstreet,— and sitting quietly through the service. (The children younger than Matt were in the nursery.)
Our pastor, excellent with a camera, especially candid shots, gave me a priceless memento—a picture of Andy walking across the cemetery holding the hands of his two sons.
After the services, the families were invited to our house for time together and food which had been lovingly prepared and brought in by thoughtful neighbors and other friends. This time of fellowship was a precious experience. We formed our family circle, holding hands while Andy asked the blessing. The overflow crowd spilled over into lawn furniture on the back porch and in the yard.
We made pictures of the entire family, which were very good considering the ages involved. We were especially pleased to have John Burttschell, Mildred’s widower, present. Only four great grandchildren were missing.
As the families began to depart and go their separate ways, we agreed it had been a memorable occasion. As we had remembered times passed with Miss Emma, Granddaddy, and others we have loved and lost, we had enjoyed fellowship and love of those remaining. We felt Granddaddy and Miss Emma were looking down approvingly from their places in heaven.
I was reminded of a sentence I recently read, "When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure." Also I thought of a meaningful line from Longfellow, "The heart, like the mind, has its own memories and in it are stored the precious keepsakes."
We have pledged to each other we shall take out our precious keepsakes and share them often and on and on. We recognize that God’s bringing Miss Emma into our lives was a choice blessing. She lived close to the Lord, setting as near perfect as is humanly possible the example of one who had her eyes fixed upon the God who was her helper and the source of her unfaltering faith. May we all be remembered with such admiration and affection.
WALLER FUNERAL HOME RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD
Waller Funeral Home received the 2002 National Funeral Directors Association Pursuit of Excellence Eagle Award on October 21, 2002, during the NFDA’S 121st Annual Convention & Expo in San Antonio, Texas. Waller Funeral Home was one of 126 funeral homes in the nation receiving this award based on their outstanding community service, professional integrity, and dynamic public relations programs.
"The Pursuit of Excellence program is the premier standard for funeral service excellence, and the Eagle award is one of the highest levels of achievement," said NFDA Chief Executive Officer Christine Pepper.
To achieve recognition in the Pursuit of Excellence program, a funeral home must meet quality service criteria in nine categories of achievement including education, compas-sionate service, technical skills, community and professional service, library or media resources, professional development, in-house staff training, and public and community relations. To earn the Eagle recognition, a funeral home must meet additional criteria in each category and create a scrapbook of their activities.
The National Funeral Directors Association is headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and has an office in Washington, D.C. It is the oldest and largest nationwide funeral service association, serving about 13,500 members.
To qualify for this award, the Funeral Home staff spent many hours in intensive evaluation of their facilities and services and made enhancements suggested by award guidelines.
YOU ARE INVITED
On December 1, 2002, Waller Funeral Home and North Oxford Baptist Church will co-sponsor a Memorial Christmas Tree Service. During the service, individuals will be given the opportunity to place ornaments on a Christmas tree in honor of deceased family members and friends.
The service will begin at 5 p.m. in the North Oxford Baptist Church Family Life Center. A carol sing, special music, prayer, and a spiritual message will be included in the service.
You can bring an ornament or you can pick one up at the church when you come. Paint pens will be provided so names can be painted on the ornaments. If you like, bring a framed photograph of the one being memorialized to display in an area to be designated.
The service is open to anyone who wouid like to attend. Participants in a similar service last year expressed appreciation for this time of reflection, hope, and encouragement during the holiday season. We encourage you to come.
Thanks to those who helped with the September 11, 2002, service dedicated to the victims of the tragedies of September 11, 2001, and expressing appreciation to local Fire, Law Enforcement, and EMT Personnel:
Fire, Law Enforcement, and EMT Personnel for attending in uniform and accepting the community’s expressions of appreciation;
North Oxford Baptist Church, their staff and congregation, for providing their lovely, spacious facility and for other assistance;
Speakers: Dr. Gary Richardson, Pastor of North Oxford Baptist Church; Reverend Leroy Wadlington, Pastor, Second Baptist Church; Reverend Warren Black, Pastor, Oxford-University United Methodist Church; Mrs. Midge McCay, President, Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce;
Musicians: Mr. Allen Harris, Associate Pastor/Music and Senior Adults, North Oxford Baptist Church; Mrs. Melissa Alexander; Mrs. Peggy Sneed; Blue Ten Harmony; the Community Choir;
Mr. Terry Sparks for editing the Video Remembrance;
Quick Print for providing the printed programs;
Oxford Floral for designing and providing the floral arrangements.
All these participants added effectively to the spirit of the program, and we are deeply and sincerely grateful to each one. Others helped behind the scenes and we appreciate them too.
Thanks also to each of those who attended the service. How great we felt to help our community come together and share the sentiments of our hearts at this patriotic observance of this anniversary!
LARRY J. WOODWARD
Larry Woodward has recently joined the staff of Waller Funeral Home as a Prearrangement Counselor and a licensed agent for Forethought Life Insurance. (More information about that below.)
Larry was born in Centralia, Illinois, the youngest of the five children of Larry and Betty Woodward of Salem, illinois. He grew up in Iuka, Illinois. He graduated from Jackson College of Ministries, Jackson, Mississippi, in 1997, with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and a Bachelor of Arts in Missions. He became a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church in May 1997.
Larry, his wife Dana, and daughter Lauren Danae moved to Oxford in 1997. He is Co-pastor of First Pentecostal Church, a youth Sunday School teacher, and Campus Minister for Pentecostal Youth Fellowship at the University of Mississippi. He was formerly employed as a Rural Carrier Associate with the U. S. Postal Service.
We are pleased to have Larry join our Waller Funeral Home staff!
Because of the desirability and growing popularity of prearrangement, Waller Funeral has expanded our capability to assist with preplanning. Larry Woodward, the new employee introduced above, was hired as a prearrangement counselor and a licensed agent for Forethought Insurance. Last summer Trish Cousley, whose primary responsibility at the funeral home has been insurance, was also licensed as a Fore-thought Insurance agent. Previously, Bobby Phelps had been the only licensed insurance agent on our staff.
In preparation for presenting prearrangement plans to interested individuals and families, Larry and Trish attended prelicensing seminars, passed the Life Insurance Examination administered by the Mississippi Testing Service, and had extensive training by the Forethought Life Insurance Company.
So many people have told us how relieved they were at the time of need for funeral services when plans had already been made. Any advance decisions and preparation ease the stress. Larry, Bobby, and Trish would like to discuss plans with you. Just call the Funeral Home (234-7971) to arrange a meeting at your convenience.
FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF LIFE
• Life is precious. Every day is a gift and should be treated as such—not dreaded, not merely endured, but savored with a spirit of gratitude.
• The people in our lives are what matters. Spend more time and energy working on relationships with family, friends, and associates.
• We need each other. We cannot live in isolation, either physically or emotionally, without suffering for it. The most fulfilled lives are those that seek to be part of a community of mutual concern
and support, whatever the definition of that community.
• Service is noble. Sacrifices large and small on behalf of others, within hearth and home but beyond as well, liberate us to experience our full humanity.
• Our temples fall. Wealth and power do not last, and they’re certainly unreliable for perpetual security or deep satisfaction. Only the intangibles endure.
• No one is invulnerable to suffering. Most people who live long enough understand this on a personal basis, but we now know it as a nation in a new kind of way.
• The things we spend so much time worrying about, and the things that often divide people, really aren’t all that important. Perspective is a good thing to have.
When we are conscious of these realities—really aware of them at the core of our being—our lives should look and feel different.
— Lloyd Gray, Column (Excerpt), Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, September 8, 2002
OUR HOLIDAY MESSAGES TO YOU
We extend our warm greetings for the holiday season ahead as we count our blessings, celebrate the birth of our Savior, and welcome a new year in quick succession. Our wish for you is that you find peace, contentment, and happiness in this season which offers special opportunities for giving and receiving the love and kindness of those around us.
We feel concern for those who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. As in the past, we have grief helps specifically prepared to help the grieving through the holiday season. These helps will be sent to those families we have served since last Christmas. We will gladly share copies of this material with anyone else who requests them for themselves or for others they think might find them helpful.
As an expression of our good will, inspirational and dashboard calendars are available at the Funeial Home for the asking.
We are proud to be a part of the Oxford-Lafayette County-University of Mississippi community. Thank you for letting us serve you. We remain committed to providing compassionate, professional assistance to each family we serve.
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from August 26, 2002, through November 7, 2002.
Dr. William H. "Bill" Henderson / August 26, 2002
Mr. Riley Glenn Brown / August 28, 2002
Mr. Elvis Eugene Tidwell / August 31, 2002
Mrs. Lucille Chinault Ricco / September 4, 2002
Mr. Donald Otho "Buddy" Henry / September 4, 2002
Mrs. Mary Valda Brown / September 4, 2002
Mrs. Clayene Sneed Crouch / September 5, 2002
Mrs. Lucile Mathre McGaha / September 8, 2002
Mrs. Mabel Rice Tucker / September 11, 2002
Mrs. Ruthie May Jones / September 11, 2002
Mr. John David Johnson / September 14, 2002
Dr. Zona Gall Finney / September 17, 2002
Mr. Edward Winfield "Ed" Ellzey / September 18, 2002
Mrs. Lula Mae McGregor Stribling / September 22, 2002
Mr. Lavern Leonard "Bud" Wilkerson / September 23, 2002
Mrs. Zada McCarver Crenshaw / September 23, 2002
Mr. Dudley Copeland Brumfield / September 28, 2002
Mrs. Marie Collins Watson / October 4, 2002
Mr. Leslie Lee "Les" Watts / October 9, 2002
Mr. James Preston Vinson, Sr / October 10, 2002
Mrs. Kathleen Warren Holcomb / October 15, 2002
Mrs. Emma Winter Waller / October 15, 2002
Mrs. Lila Buchanan Cain / October 16, 2002
Mr. 0. V. Stone Smith / October 18, 2002
Mr. Sidney Eugene Doyle / October 18, 2002
Mrs. Jane McElreath Johnson / October 18, 2002
Mrs. Hester Green Cooper / October 22, 2002
Mrs. Waltraud Kupfer "Trudy" Bowles / October 23, 2002
Mrs. Maxie Lee Hamilton Work / October 24, 2002
Mrs. Quay Timmons Hensley / October 26, 2002
Mr. Joseph Matthew "Matt" Bishop / October 31, 2002
Mrs. Martha Racldey Deal / November 1, 2002
Retired Lt. Col. Andrew Walker Coffey / November 7, 2002