HITTING THE MARK—SOMETIMES
The first issue of Seasons was mailed out ten years ago. Our purpose was to share useful information relative to the Funeral Home and funeral service, to provide a tribute to the memories of recently deceased people whose families we had served, to provide some appropriate inspirational thoughts, and to promote communication and goodwill with our patrons/friends. We have been pleased with the response we have received through the years indicating that our efforts have not been in vain. For me personally and for the Funeral Home, our open sharing of thoughts has created new personal relationships and strengthened old friendships with many of our readers.
Letters have come from people who once lived in this area but now live away. They see names on the "In Memoriam" list and have questions about the deaths. Some people have told us that our reminiscing has stirred within them meaningful memories and has provided appropriate and needed outlet for emotions. Others have expressed their appreciation for reprinted inspirational prose and poetry. The responses are dear to me! I have kept them in a special place and from time to time I bring them out to read again. Communication needs to be two-way. Thank you for all of your responses.
Preparation of the newsletter answers a need in my life now as never before. When we began Seasons, I was active in the daily operation of the funeral home and I was very satisfied by my role there; but, as most of you know, my hearing problem caused me to relinquish that regular involvement. Now I have more time to plan and prepare the newsletter, and this process stimulates my thinking in a helpful and satisfying way. As I move through my daily routines and special activities and as I spend time on the road with Don as he fulfills his responsibilities, my mind often is occupied by thoughts of what I want to share. And the positive feedback that has been generated lifts my spirits —and sometimes I need that bad!
Much of what goes on at the Funeral Home is very private and personal. We appreciate that and we respect the people we serve and their right to privacy and their right to deal in their own way with the death of their loved one. This respect for privacy carries over into the way I handle any personal comments we receive, so it is with care that I share some of my inspiration with you.
One former resident who moved from Oxford after the death of her husband wrote: "Dear Don and Patsy: Today I received my second copy of the newsletter, and I just felt I had to let you know how much I appreciate your sending them to me. I had meant to write shortly after I received the first one that had your article, Patsy, about the 'Prayer of Serenity.' I had thought this was the best one you could write, then today I received the one, 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness' and from now on I will just eagerly anticipate the next one."
Enclosed along with business-related matters in another letter there appeared this: "Tell Patsy to please write her article as long as she can. I would miss it so much. She has insight that few have and she’s candid too --which makes her words hit right where God can use her words."
In response to "Too Little Too Late," an older gentleman wrote with unsteady hand: "Dear Patsy: I have just read your article in Seasons. You have made my day and let me relive many happy forgotten pleasant experiences. What you have written is so true. I’m one of those too late people; though I never intended to be. No one can experience it unless they have been there."
Written on a beautiful greeting card, the following note was written by a young woman whose husband was killed in an automobile wreck as he went to work, leaving her alone with several young children: "Dear Patsy—We often fail to let people know how much they mean to us. One day last week-I was depressed and felt like everyone was against me, and I went to the mailbox and found the paper in which you had written ‘At Wit’s End.’ After reading your article, I was immediately filled with peace, and I know that no matter what lies ahead God will be there!"
I often wish I could meet each person who comes to the funeral home, and I was pleased to receive this letter: "Dear Patsy, I did not put Dear Mrs. Waller, for you are much closer to me than that formal greeting! While we have never met, I know you from Seasons. Your column is a welcome arrival in my mail. At the end of the Fall, 1992 you told of 5,000 on the mailing list, and invited our comments... (My husband’s great aunt’s service was conducted by Waller’s several years ago -- you all did a "family" job-- my highest praise for your courtesy, compassion and professional service.) Back to your column, I save your writings. The story of the little boys attending a friend’s funeral was especially touching . . . Keep up your inspiring work. You make God even more real to your readers... and death is viewed as it should be —a natural part of life and the beginning of total union with God for the believer. Thank you for feeding this sheep. . .We’re hungry!" How wonderful that makes me feel!
This letter came from a mother after the services for an adult daughter: "Don and Patsy, I can’t remember if I ever expressed my appreciation for all your help and kindness shown to the family during the loss of my precious one. Thank you and bless you. I enjoyed the Holiday Thoughts, Heaven’s Gates and the Gypsies, and the poems. I put it in my Bible and read it often."
Another very positive and inspiring letter reads: "Being the mother of two preschool children I haven’t much time to spend writing letters, but I want to let you know how much I enjoy Seasons. Your letters have brought me many hours of enjoyable reading and I look forward to each one. You and your ‘family’ helped with the arrangements for my precious mother and sister, not to mention other friends-and distant relatives? I really appreciate your kindness. In one of your letters you published ‘The Watcher.’ It is one of my favorites and has brought me much comfort when I get lonely for my mother, who went to be with the Lord at the young age of 50. Thank you for having me on your mailing list and I look forward to the next Seasons."
Several others and then I’ll close:
"Dear Patsy—Again, with moist eyes, I have read the summer issue of Seasons. Your gift of self in your sharing always touches me deeply. Thanks for keeping my name on your mailing list. God bless you."
"Dear Mrs. Waller, For a long time I have intended to write to tell you how very much I enjoy your writings in the publication Seasons that we receive ever so often. I really look forward to what you have to say. You really have a special gift for putting feelings into words. This fall, 1994, issue was especially meaningful to me since the hymn ‘This Is My Father’s World’ that you wrote about is one of my very favorites."
"Dear Mrs. Waller: I’ve been wanting for some time to write and let you know how much I’ve enjoyed and appreciate Seasons. There’s always such a beautiful message that I have some of the articles for my file labeled ‘Inspirational Thoughts.’ ‘A Wintertime in Life’ in the last issue was very meaningful to me.
"Dear Patsy: I have been sitting here thinking of all the literature and kind expressions of sympathy that have come from you and the funeral home during the greatest sorrow of my 90 years. It has meant so very much to me and has really helped. It really does help to know someone cares. It helped to ease the pain. I just wanted to say an extra ‘Thank you’ to you and all the others that have been so thoughtful and kind. I think you have done an excellent job. My God bless you with a heart full of love."
These are some of the comments — and there are others just as dear to me— that we have received about the newsletter during the past ten years. How happy it makes me to think that I have succeeded in reaching some with meaningful and helpful thoughts!
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your acceptance! I am still very humble in my approach to sharing my thoughts and feelings — I recognize my limitations and only with your encouragement am I able to dare to reach out to you. From the first beginning of an idea to the final labeling and mailing by the staff, I pray with God’s help Seasons will provide inspiration and comfort.
Patsy Waller (left) and Beth Rosson are pictured with the new Allen Organ
NEW SOUND SYSTEM AND KEYBOARDS PURCHASED
A new sound system and two new keyboard instruments have been installed at the Funeral Home.
The sound equipment has compact disc technology with superb sound reproduction and an incredible variety of instrumental and vocal renditions. "Musical Presence" is the trade name for the custom background and chapel music installation by National Music Service, Inc., of Spokane, Washington. The system is available to all those using the chapel for funeral services.
Also, two new keyboard instruments are now available for those families who prefer the presence of a musician. The new 2-manual digital Allen organ ranges from the quiet and meditative sound to the majestic sound of a fine pipe organ. The new Technics digital piano provides the sound of a fine acoustical grand piano. Both instruments are adaptable to various levels of playing skill.
Those musicians who are called on to play for funeral services are especially invited to come to the funeral home and try out the new instruments. We believe you will be pleased with the ease of playing and with the sound quality.
The new sound equipment, the organ, and the piano were acquired after careful consideration of equipment available appropriate to our facilities and to the people we serve as we continue our dedication to doing whatever we can to improve and maintain a high standard of excellence for bereaved families and friends.
A BOOK REVIEW
Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman
In Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, Hope Edelman tries to understand her own life in relation to the loss when she was 17, of her mother, 42, and to understand why, as she says, "she still has such a hold on me?" Her research included interviewing in detail 92 women who had lost their mothers; analyzing hundreds of letters from women who responded to articles which she had published; reading extensively about grief and loss of parents; and consulting with expert psychologists, psychiatrists, and other experts on grieving.
Ms. Edelman recognized in motherless daughters many similar and many diverse reactions to their mothers’ deaths. Factors affecting the reactions included the age of the daughter when her mother died, the cause of death, the birth order of the daughter, the personality traits of the daughter, and the support system available to the daughter after the loss; and she examines each of these factors.
Obviously the younger and more dependent the daughter the more profoundly she was affected by the death. The most deeply felt losses were the loss of motherly nurturing and of female role modeling. Grandmothers or aunts were sometimes available to help with these losses, and those daughters fortunate enough to have nurturing fathers drew security and emotional strength from them. Some children became obsessed with the fear of losing the second parent.
Changing family roles caused by the death of the mother profoundly affected the daughters. Some were expected at an early age to become self-reliant and independent; some were expected to assume household duties and the care for younger siblings; some were uprooted from their homes and had to adjust to entire new families. Some fathers remarried, but the introduction of a new "mother" and perhaps more children into the household was usually found to create more problems than solutions for the child.
Mature women were affected by the loss of the mother-daughter relationship, though their coping skills were usually better and they were more occupied with their own homes, jobs, and families. Their emotions were often triggered by special times or events, Mother’s Day, a graduation, a wedding, or their own birthday. Their birthdays were an especially strong trigger of emotions, not only because of missing that special call or card but also because each year brought them closer to the age of their mother when she died, an age which carried enormous significance to most of the motherless daughters. Recognizing characteristics of their mothers in themselves -- how they looked, how they sounded, how they acted --were also reminders of their loss. The author says that the women who came through best were those able to internalize the positive aspects of their mothers that they wanted to carry on, to reject the negative aspects that troubled them, and to continue on, motherless, but intact.
At all ages, those daughters who could grieve openly and slowly had fewer long-term emotional problems.
Though they were reluctant to admit it, some daughters seemed to thrive after the loss of their mothers. They called themselves"survivors"; they had faced a profound loss and nevertheless found the desire and hope to press on. Some gained freedom to go or to do things which otherwise they would not have done. A few chose careers in science/medicine to help search for a cure for the disease which had killed their mothers. The death of someone so near often made the survivors aware of the transiency of life, and they began to try to make each day count in achieving their goals.
Motherless daughters differed significantly in their own mothering attitudes and practices. Some did not want children because they were afraid they might not live to take care of them. Others wanted children so they could give them the nurturing of which they themselves were deprived. One expectant mother was stunned to be told that she was going to have a boy because the mothering she looked forward to was focused on a little girl —the little girl she had been. Motherless daughters also wondered about the missing support system for mother and child during the birthing and postpartum period.
The author found women eager to share their experiences, and the motherless daughters seemed, because of their common loss, to bond instantly when they met. The female reader will easily identify and sympathize with the motherless daughters who tell of their lives and their reactions to losing their mothers and will perhaps better understand herself and/or other motherless daughters. The narrative style makes the book very readable.
—The book was published in 1994, hardback, by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, and is on conspicuous display now in many bookstores. One copy is available in the Funeral Home Library on a first-come basis.
GRIEF EDUCATION AND SUPPORT OFFERED
A Grief Education and Support Group will begin meeting on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Magnolia Auditorium at Baptist Hospital-North Mississippi. Interested persons may choose to attend one session only or attend on an ongoing basis for as long as they need grief support.
Information on this grief support has been supplied by Ms. Susan Eftink, Medical Social Worker, Magnolia Health Services and Hospice. More about the group is quoted from a recent letter from Ms. Eftink:
"Last fall as part of our bereavement support service, we at Magnolia Health Service and Hospice, offered a five-week Grief Education and Support Group. Response to the group was very positive and a request was made to continue the group on a regular basis. To fulfill the request, we will begin offering the group on a monthly basis.
"The monthly Grief Education and Support Group is for anyone in the community who has suffered the loss of a family member, loved one, or friend. During each session we will offer grief education on subjects such as the stages of grief, handling the holidays, depression, anger, guilt, and emerging from grief. In addition to grief education, members will be able to receive support and understanding from one another as well as group leaders. The group will be offered through Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi free of charge."
Persons interested in attending the group can receive more information by contacting the Hospice office at Magnolia Health Services and Hospice (662-234-8553).
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from October 27, 1994, through February 12, 1995.
Mrs. Allonia Morgan Harris 10/27/94
Mr. William Francis Lyles 10/28/94
Mr. Jeffrey Benjamin Wilkinson 10/28/94
Dr. Abbey Boyd Cullen ,Jr. 10/30/94
Mr. Ekoy Aron 11/09/94
Mr. James Durlon Douglas 11/12/94
Mrs. Hilda Denton Edwards 11/13/94
Mr. James Eugene "Buster" Poole 11/16/94
Mr. Lloyd Milton Oliphant 11/18/94
Mr. Michael John Ratliff 11/20/94
Mrs. Martha Tatum Nicholas 11/20/94
Mr. Sidney W. Roy 11/21/94
Mr. W. Melvin Oliphant 11/23/94
Mr. Herbert Ralph Kilgore 11/25/94
Mr. Norman Aubrey Kisner 11/25/94
Mr. Cecil Sisson Lantrip 11/27/94
Mr. James Scott Patterson 12/1/94
Mrs. Wilma Hall Link 12/4/94
Mr. Claude Fitzgerald Scoggin, Jr. 12/6/94
Miss Durley Roach 12/09/94
Mrs. Birdie Rikard Mills 12/09/94
Mr. George Relbue "Rel" Alderson 12/09/94
Mrs. Bettye Jean Hawkins Jones 12/10/94
Mrs. Obion Watson Feagin 12/10/94
Mr. Robert Minor "Bob" Whitten, Jr. 12/10/94
Mr. James Hector Curie, III 12/14/94
Mr. Robert Lewis Waller 12/24/94
Mrs. Ida Bowles McCullough 12/29/94
Mr. Ralph Alexander Messer 12/31/94
Mr. Claude Arthur "Art" Kibble 12/31/94
Mrs. Tolsie Williams Cole 01/01/95
Mr. Hugh Milton Nelson 01/03/95
Mr. Jesse Woodrow Oliver 01/04/95
Mrs. Effie Joyner Smith 01/07/95
Mrs. Elena Maria Di Mezza Fiorillo 01/07/95
Mrs. Curtis B. Krumcke 01/09/95
Mr. Hu Gathright Bryant 01/13/95
Mrs. Bernice Kress Howland 01/16/95
Mrs. Rosemary Cain Miles 01/16/95
Mr. Raymond Goodlow "Ray" Goolsby 01/17/95
Mrs. Nina Taylor Karl 01/23/95
Mrs. Helen Sue Cisneros 01/25/95
Mr. Charles William Litton 01/26/95
Mr. Carlos Harold Vaughn 01/27/95
Mr. Robert Linder McCain, Sr. 01/29/95
Mrs. Marvel Ramey Sisk 01/31/95
Mrs. Loy Cole Champion 01/31/95
Mr. Roy Sparks 02/01/95
Mr. Dwayne Allen 02/07/95
Brian Allen Henry 02/07/95
Brandon Alexander Henry 02/07/95
Mrs. Vertis Thweatt King 02/09/95
Mr. Robert Rowland "Bert" Black, Jr. 02/12/95