niece mindi eulogizes her mimi

My Mimi
Mimi pabob and mindiWe used to gather at her home every Sunday after church, with all the cousins. She made a yellow cake (usually with chocolate frosting) and would let it cool as the adults sat in the living room with coffee and talked. I remember sneaking into the kitchen over and over to scoop up a finger full of melted frosting that would drip over the edge of the Tupperware container that it rested on. Occasionally my aunt Valerie would come in to do the same and I remember thinking to myself “she is the aunt that is the most like me”.
 
She made the greatest “Mimi Burgers” of all time. The cousins decided that Mimi should open her own restaurant and call it “Mimi Burgers” or maybe “Mimi’s House” and only serve burgers and fries (which my PaBob would occasionally make in the garage in a deep fryer) and of course, a cake made from a box mix. That’s really all you’d need.
 
On these Sundays, all of the cousins would spend hours outdoors, running wild through the woods behind her home. We went on adventures which found us on the edge of the local cemetery, making up stories about how the people died. We would splash through the creek and catch frogs and tadpoles. We made up gymnastics routines on the metal play set they had installed behind her home. We would teach my PaBob’s German Shepard, Max, tricks, but they were mostly tricks he’d already been taught.
 
We caught lizards on the side of her garage for hours, always watching out for the elusive “Blue Racer” snake that my cousin Ben and brother CJ seemed to spot almost weekly before it raced off into the woods.
 
We pretended to drive my PaBob’s lawn mower, his boat, his Jeep. We rode their bicycles around the circle driveway that ran through their wooded neighborhood. We carried each other around the house in a wheelbarrow, creating elaborate obstacle courses. Every Easter egg hunt was there. Every piñata. Every birthday celebration.
 
When it was rainy, we would pile into the back bedroom, (usually no less than 7 of us, but more often up to 13 grandkids at once) and try to find Nickelodeon on a box tv the size of a small car. We would take turns playing hide and seek, which was tricky in a room with one small closet, a pull-out couch, a velvet blue recliner and lamp, and, again, a Kia sized television.
 
We began hiding within the pull-out couch, often hiding 2 cousins on the bed and then folding it up and sitting on the couch to prove that Randall and CJ couldn’t possibly be hiding in there.
 
We spent our time jumping on Mimi’s personal trampoline, and using her assortment of mail ordered workout equipment. A thighmaster, handweights, a sit-ups assistant. It was like Christmas when we walked in to find an exercise bike, to be replaced years later by a rowing machine. We spent every Sunday “getting buff”.
 
On the rare occasion when we needed adult attention, we’d parade through the living room to make the adults laugh. We knew we needed a gimmick, they wouldn’t let us just sit there and listen as they updated each other about their weeks. Some days we’d organize a talent show.
 
My brother CJ would start it off with a full rendition of Ray Stevens “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”. Amy and Stephanie might follow shortly with an impersonation of Mimi, on a drive to Wal-Mart. My cousins Ben & Randall were always good for a funny skit, or a song on the piano. I once bought a joke book for my stand up act that would follow.
 
My oldest cousin, Jeff, figured it out early. He’d eat lunch and then “nap” under the piano bench. He was privy to so much more information than the rest of us, because when we’d get shooed outside, we were told to leave quietly, not to wake up poor Jeff.
 
When we WERE allowed in the living room with the adults, they would often switch to pig Latin to discuss private matters. “Hey Michael, did you see that dress that Ane-Ja Oe-Da was earing-wa at urch-cha oday-Ta? Who was she dressing up for, do ya think?”
 
We were a fast study and cracked their code in an hour. Even faster than when they would just spell the code words when we were younger.
 
My Mimi hosted every Christmas for years, even getting a Santa Claus to burst in through the mud room with a sack of gifts for us kids. She’d write us $15 checks on our birthdays. As our numbers grew, the checks got smaller, until Mimi’s gift was just a real good hug. 😂 She would hire me to clean her house (which mostly consisted of running a manual vacuum over the carpet and using lemon pledge on every wooden surface of her home. She rode motorcycles with PaBob to a prison ministry where she showed such loving kindness to the inmates there. I told kids at school that my grandma was a biker that went to prison every week...
 
She volunteered to lead a section of children at Tuesday night AWANA’s at her church. She quit smoking when she found her granddaughters “smoking” pencils and pretending to be Mimi. When we’d sleep at her house, we would be terrified when we got too loud and she’d burst into the room, without her dentures, wearing a silk nightgown, to tell us “Y’all settle down now, and I mean it!” We ate Corn Flakes and Special K at breakfast when we’d sleep at her house.
 
She slept on a waterbed. She owned a gun and showed us the high cabinet it was kept in and threatened our very lives if we ever got into that cabinet. She taught herself and then me, to knit and crochet and when her Alzheimer’s got worse, she began to crochet for hours at a time, stacking the blankets in a cabinet until Christmas when she would pass them out in big bundles by family member. She fell for every pyramid scheme at least once. She was determined to be technologically savvy up until her Alzheimer’s got bad enough that she couldn’t remember any of her login info. She taught me how to properly set a table and she always used cloth napkins with wooden napkin rings. When I was very young, I would sneak into her purse to find cherry chapstick and use every bit of it in one sitting. She never got mad at me. She smelled like Cherry Almond Jergen’s lotion. She loved having her feet rubbed. She ALWAYS saved room for dessert.
 
She was the most sparkling conversationalist. She always spoke with so much grace and understanding, that you couldn’t help but pour your thoughts and feelings out to her in a one-on-one conversation. She taught me the importance of good posture, writing things down, reading, speed walking, coffee with dessert, memorizing Scripture, and never using profanity, unless it enhanced the conversation, because it’s like over-salting food. Just a sprinkle when necessary.
 
She never once saw me without telling me how much I looked like her. She never once saw me without hugging me and telling me she missed me. She called people “Hon” and “Shug” and never once let you leave her house without saying “Well now, don’t run off. Why don’t y’all sit down and stay awhile?”
Before she was put in a nursing home, she was speaking to my Aunt Stacie over the phone. Somehow my name came up and my Mimi, puzzled, slowly asked...”now Mindi....she’s one of mine, right?” The fact that she thought I was one of her daughters nearly made my heart burst right open and I hope that she never ever thought otherwise until her last breath.
 
She was my last living biological grandparent, and she passed away on September 5, 2020.

mama's obituary

Geral "Jeri" Dean Funderburk

February 3, 1936 - September 5, 2020

Mama yellow sweatshirtGeral Dean "Jeri" Funderburk, age 84, of Mena, Arkansas, died Saturday, September 5, 2020, surrounded by family. She was born, February 3, 1936 to Philip Anderson and Elsie Lannie Keen Piearcy in Hugo, Oklahoma.

Jeri was a committed Christian who modeled a love for the Word of God, a life of prayer, an ease of laughter and a great sense of humor to her offspring. Throughout her years of declining health, she continued to model prayer as her default. Even as her words became twisted and incoherent this past year due to Alzheimer's, she continued to call out to God in prayer. Her family takes comfort knowing that the words that reached her Father in Heaven, were not twisted to His ears, rather perfectly sound.

The love for her family guided her life and filled it with happiness. In her younger days she enjoyed gardening, long walks, sewing, crocheting, motorcycling, prison ministry, traveling, and volunteering in Awana's, a ministry to disciple children and young people. Jeri was very proud of her family and cherished every moment she had with them. She will be dearly missed, especially by Bob - her husband whom she loved so dearly - and her children who were her pride and joy.

She is preceded in death by her parents; one daughter, Debbie Callahan; three brothers, Philip Piearcy, Bob Piearcy and David Piearcy, and one sister, Cleta Rose.

Jeri is survived by her loving husband, Bob Funderburk of Mena; four children and their spouses: Diane and Steve Schultz of West Fork, Arkansas, Michael and Lawana Callahan of Hatfield, Arkansas, Stacie and Jimmy Pineda of Boone, North Carolina and Valerie and Gordon Dykstra of Alberta, Canada; one brother, Jackie Piearcy of Ola, Arkansas, her identical twin and life-long best friend, Vernie "Jill" Smith of Mena; sixteen grandchildren; thirty three great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

Due to vulnerable family members and a large family, the family regrets that Covid 19 restricts the service to family only. A graveside funeral service will be held on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, at 10:00 A.M. at Gann Cemetery in Potter, where she will lay beside her Darling Deborah Jean. Arrangements are entrusted to Bowser Family Funeral Home in Mena.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Grace Bible Church Awana Club, 1911 Highway 71 North, Mena, Arkansas 71953.

Pallbearers will be Jeff Shreve, Christopher Rose, Melody Pineda, Amy Hernandez, Elliott Shreve and Christian Shreve.


i'll miss her dearly

Mama red sweatshirtMy beautiful mom. I will miss her warmth, humour, and unconditional love. I believe in the “communion of the saints” and that we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” In that way, she’ll be closer to me than ever before.
 
When Mama went into the nursing home, I was privileged to go through her most personal prayer journals and diaries. In those, she had written her deepest, darkest secrets. I was privy to her most saintly and least saintly thoughts. I learned of her greatest regrets (sins) and I learned of the serious sins that she wrestled with, and those that nearly snagged her.
 
When I was younger, knowing she fought those temptations would have sickened me. But now, more seasoned in understanding human nature and profoundly aware of the darkness in my own soul, it did nothing but make me respect her more. She fought the temptations and she beat them. Mama has gone to her reward. She fought the spiritual fight and won.
 
Her greatest gifts to me were a love for the word of God, a love for prayer (conversing with my Lord), and a great appreciation for laughter. I am blessed.

stephanie eulogizes mimi

This is by my oldest child, Stephanie.

Mimi.
Mom and stephIt has only been since becoming an adult that I’ve realized that my childhood wasn’t normal, that the role my grandmothers played in my life was extraordinary and few people have the privilege of having the experiences that are so precious to me.
 
It was a normal weekly occurrence that all my mom's siblings and ALL my cousins would pack my Mimi’s house. After church on Sunday was a given but it wasn’t uncommon to be over there other days of the week as well.
 
Walking into her house the air would be thick with haze from smoke off the large griddle in the kitchen where she was making her “signature” Mimi burgers. Tony Chachere and lots of pepper were the secret ingredients but I swear I’ve never been able to recreate so...I think she may have had a “secret” secret.
 
Regardless.....delicious! She had a cabinet devoted to yellow cake mix and chocolate frosting so that was our staple meal at Mimi's, Mimi burgers and yellow box cake with chocolate frosting.
 
I was staying with her when my grandpa died and I can remember finding out in a room full of people. Pabob didn’t know I was there when he came in and said my grandpa had died and Mimi rocked me the rest of the evening.
 
She loved her rocking chair.
 
Also, my love for coffee came straight out of that house. She always had coffee ready to offer anyone who may stop by. In fact the the gurgle and popping of the coffee percolator (always a percolator) was the soundtrack of her house. I love that sound!
 
Laughter, she laughed all the time. I have a terrible issue with laughing at inappropriate times. I’ve always blamed it on nerves...ha, but I’ve been thinking about Mimi and I actually think that’s all her. She could laugh at all times and when things felt awkward or someone was telling a story it didn’t matter what was happening there was always something to laugh about. I remember when I was pregnant with Roman, my first baby, she was telling me of the horrors of childbirth (I think we were specifically talking about her delivery of my aunt Stacie) and I guess I grimaced at a particular description and we laughed the rest of the day. Maybe save the horror stories for when someone isn’t pregnant with her first.
 
That leads me to babies, she LOVED babies! Each baby was always the best, the most beautiful, the most precious baby she had ever seen. Babies were treasures and she never met one she wasn’t instantly in love with. Also, they all looked like someone in her family. I believe it because those genes are strong ones.
 
Things got hard in our family for a while and talking about things was hard but we found our way and she became someone I confided in, I know those times were hard for her, but I found comfort there talking to her. Always at the end, when it would get quiet for a minute, she would always say, “I love you, Shug,” I always knew that!
 
The last visit I had with Mimi in the memory care unit, before Covid, I took Remington (2 at the time) and he was her pride. She told everyone he was hers. All the ladies loved him as he walked around and shared a bag of goldfish with everyone there. Every time I looked at Mimi she was beaming.
Remington gave Mimi his hat and she wore it proudly the rest of our visit.
 
Honor is taking care of those who have taken care of you. That’s what I feel. Honor and so privileged that she was here in my home. I’m sad that her time with us was so short, I expected weeks at least, but I also believe that she felt like she was home with people she loved and once her twin sister arrived she was ready and left us peacefully. I will be eternally grateful that she was here with us. That time, although short, was precious and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for Jesus and the hope we have in Him. I’m thankful that we have knowledge that this isn’t goodbye but see you later.
 
We’ll see you soon, Mimi.

misty eulogizes her mimi

Mama left a legacy. My niece Misty wrote about some of it:

Mom and mistyWhen I was a little girl, I would often ask my mom why we believed what we believed and what different parts of the Bible meant. I was always amazed at how she would walk me through Greek and Hebrew roots and the historical context as she walked me through it all. One day I asked her how she knew all of that and she told me that her mom helped her and always taught her to seek truth and understanding.
 
Today we celebrate that legacy as we mark my grandmother’s passing. Mimi’s house was an iconic feature of my childhood. My aunts and uncles would gather on the weekend and share life. It was there I learned the value of laughter, the joy of family, the power of a well-told story, and the importance of the Word of God. She took us to Awanas and paid our dues so we could learn the Bible. She taught us old time hymns when she realized our progressive church left us without that knowledge.
 
I conducted a series of interviews with her in college to understand how her identity was shaped in her youth. I grew proud as I listened to her share a journey that didn’t stagnate as she grew older. Even after her retirement, she engaged in a process of transformation. It was a source of pride that I always shared with my kids. One of the many legacies she gave us was her never-ending quest for personal growth and her search for truth.
 
As her mind deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s over the last ten years, she lost her short, then long-term memory. Sometimes when we visited it was clear that this lack of context naturally resulted in a level of fear. Even as her mental capacity failed her, she would quote the Bible and ask us to pray with her. Even as her mind and body declined, her spirit held strong. Of all of the legacies she gave us, that spiritual strength is the one I cherish most. I’m so grateful for her life, her love, her joy, her strength, and her faith.
 

2017 in review

00582D66-ACB2-4A7E-8022-40B752F905EAWhat a full, and unusual, year 2017 was. The highlight of the early part of the year was our 24th anniversary trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. We had an amazing time. The first morning we were there I did something I’ve never done before: I read, journalled, and had coffee in bed. I felt I was in the lap of luxury. 

Cannon Beach is very beautiful and I’d recommend it to anyone for a vacation. Surely it is one of American's prettiest beaches. It's certainly the prettiest I've enjoyed. It has a quaint, lovely village with lots of good shopping. 

It was still pretty chilly, which allowed us to beat the tourists. The cool didn’t keep us from enjoying the beach. We read and napped on the beach, but we didn’t play in the water except for our one daring escapade which was the highlight of my vacation. 

Several weeks after our trip to Oregon, I went to New Orleans for my niece Emily's wedding. I loved seeing my sisters, nieces and nephews, but it was a whirlwind of a trip.

When I returned home, it was a blast to welcome my niece Mindi and her chillens to the Sunshine Coast. I enjoyed Mindi lots and her 10-year-old Ezra nuzzled himself right into the depths of my heart. What a sweet, gentle, enthusiastic child. We rented a limo to pick them up at the airport. What a hoot to see their expressions when they saw it.

In June, Daddy was told he would die soon with leukemia. I immediately went to Arkansas. The day after I got there, Stephanie and John Mark welcomed their fifth child, Remington Creede. What a delight to get to meet him shortly after his birth. He's my sixth grandchild but the first that I've met in the hospital. 

God blessed my siblings and me with lots of time with Daddy before his death. In June, we all gathered around him and he rallied well. I stayed for five weeks to help out before coming home. During my stay there I lost my job. I was wooed to the job by its flexibility and that I could have all the time off in the summer I wanted so, I wasn't too concerned about being with Daddy. As things unfolded it became clear that "all the time off I wanted in the summer" was too good to be true. It was a fun job and I miss the laughs, but I will never regret the time with Daddy. Losing the job was a small price to pay to have that extended time with him. 

I came home the first of August and was called back to Arkansas two weeks later. Daddy had taken another turn for the worse. I stayed another six weeks then came home again. Three weeks later, Daddy got really bad. I booked my ticket on the 19th and he died in the early morning hours of October 20. I had prayed regularly that we would all be with him when he died. In keeping with his private nature, he chose to die alone. My heart hurts to think that he was all alone, but as I learned in my hospice volunteer training, people often choose to die alone. I had hoped to pray, read Scripture, and sing him out of this life and into the next. It wasn't meant to be.

21522498-B123-4BB3-9171-218064B44F22We chose a casket that was made of barn wood. It couldn't have been more appropriate. Had we had all the money in the world, we still would have chosen it. It was perfect for Daddy. The first night we saw Daddy at the funeral home, he looked perfect and we were thrilled. It was an intimate time for us. I felt carried by our Lord and my siblings, although we expressed it differently, did too. Before we left, we said Psalm 23 together. It was a "God moment"; such a blessing to be inspired to do that and share that time with my brother and sisters. 

Before the funeral started, we played Daddy's kind of music - Hank Williams, Bob Wills, etc. - to go with a video of pictures of him. One thing I'd do differently given the chance, would be to have someone taking pictures and videoing the service. I missed lots as I was very "in the moment". I wish I could watch the funeral again and I wish I could see people's expressions as they watched Daddy's video and heard his music. The funeral was wonderful. Mindi (his favorite granddaughter) read his obituary and added some stories and laughs. Jimmy sang two songs, one being "On the Wings of a Dove." He sang beautifully; some of us joined him for the chorus. God blessed me with a special grace to give the eulogy. Miraculously, I wasn't very nervous, was able to deliver it well, and it received lots of laughs - mostly from the family. Dee, Daddy's best friend, led us in Psalm 23, Daddy's favorite scripture passage and one he and Dee read frequently together. Daddy had requested Donny Jewell preach his funeral. For Arkansas, it was a very custom funeral. I'm proud we did it that way. Daddy would have felt very honored by his funeral. There were lots of laughs, but lots of sweetness and respect too. He received military honors, a very touching aspect of the service. About six or seven old veterans solemnly saluted him and thanked him for his service. It was beautiful how much respect they showed and it made us cry. At the graveside, they presented Michael with the United States flag. The veteran, well into his 80's, knelt down in front of Michael and gave him the flag on behalf of a "grateful community." He ended by saying, "I knew him personally and he was a good man."

The funeral was well attended and a highlight of it was that the Torix family was there. What a blessing to see them. I appreciated their respect for us and Daddy so much. They had to drive several hours to attend. Another blessing was all Corkey's kids were there and joined us for the family dinner and the graveside. 

Daddy appointed Michael as his executor with me to do it if Michael could/would not. Michael chose not to do it, which left me with the position. It has been an honor, and again, God has graced me with what I need to do it, and I think, do it well. I had to stay in Arkansas several additional weeks after the funeral to fulfill some executrix-type obligations. One of the jobs I chose to do was cleaning Daddy's house. Daddy lived like a pauper and lived in squalor. I felt like I was honoring him in the huge job of cleaning his house and selling his "treasures." I made trip after trip to the thrift store, antique stores, and the dump. In the end, the house looked better than it has in decades.

When it was all said and done, I spent nearly five months in Arkansas this year. The time with Daddy and my siblings before and after his death, were truly the highlights of 2017. I experienced special graces the second half of the year that still amaze me. Ever since I started wearing my Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal, the graces have rained down on me. But that's a story for a different day. Suffice it to say, I'm very grateful to Blessed Mom for her intervention and intercession in my life. She has been a game changer in my spiritual life.

Daddy left us a nice little inheritance. I invested most of mine in crypto-currencies and, at this point, have tripled my money. It is a risky investment, and I could lose it in a moment, but so far so good. As I contemplated putting my inheritance into that volatile market, I thought it would be easier to lose the investment, than not invest and regret it in a few years if it really did become the currency of the future. Another grace of the year is having more money than I've ever had before, yet being able to hold it with an open hand rather than a closed fist. That is a real God thing.

Gordon and I are both delighted that the year and its fullness is behind us. Despite a death, it was a year that was richly blessed. I'm very thankful to God. 


daddy's obituary

Curtis Houston Callahan 

May 8, 1933 - October 20, 2017

Curtis Callahan PhotoCurtis Houston Callahan died peacefully of leukemia at the home of his son and daughter-in-law on Friday, October 20, 2017. He was 84 years old. He was born May 8, 1933 in Potter, Arkansas to Herman and Delia Callahan.

He was a veteran of the Korean War era and was honorably discharged from the US Army in 1953.

He married Geraldine Piearcy in 1956 and they raised four children on the same farm he was raised.

As a young man, he worked in the timber industry in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arkansas. After all the children were born, he raised chickens and cattle. In 1985, he retired from farming and spent the next seven years working at Rich Mountain Manor nursing home, which he loved because of his penchant for caring for the sick and elderly. The last 10 years of his working life was with the Polk County Road Department.

Curtis had a rich social life. He and his friends held court most mornings at McDonald's. If the docket was full, they resumed at noon. He enjoyed visiting the sick, whether friend or stranger, and was honored to be a pallbearer at numerous friends' departures.

Curtis could tell a great and animated story. If he told a story about a dog, the listener could see the dog's tail wag. He kept his kids entertained with his odd idioms and colorful speech. "No. No. N-O, No!" "Don't argue with her. If she says it's cold in August, you better start shivering."

He enjoyed life: his flowers (where others might notice the weeds, he only saw the flowers); animals (he still mourned his beloved Jack Russell Tippy's passing); and his daily walk (he continued his walking custom despite shortness of breath and pain to the last week of his life).

Diagnosed with leukemia in June, he continued to enjoy life. He kept his wicked sense of humor and his many eccentric habits. He maintained the appetite of a teenage boy up to his last week. But his illness did provide one benefit: lots of quality time with his kids. They will be forever grateful to God for that privilege.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Delia Callahan, his brother, Corky, and his beloved one-year-old daughter, Debbie.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Lawana of Hatfield, his three daughters and their husbands; Diane and Steve Schultz of West Fork, Arkansas; Stacie and Jimmy Pineda of Boone, North Carolina; and Valerie and Gordon Dykstra of British Columbia, Canada; 16 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and his dear friend, Dee Roberts.

His funeral will be Tuesday, October 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Bowser Family Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Donnie Jewell officiating. Visitation will be Monday, October 23 from 6-8 p.m. at Bowser Family Funeral Home in Mena.

Pallbearers will be his grandsons: Jeff Shreve, Randall Shreve, Salomon Hernandez, Christopher Rose, Jordan Pineda, and Clay Newcomb. Honorary pallbearers will be his gang from McDonald's.


tribute to debbie

(Debbie in her cute, subtle way promoting breast cancer awareness. 2010)  
Debbie's ribbon
I never thought I'd see the day when I wouldn't be at the funeral of someone so special to me. But as I type this, Debbie's funeral is in progress. Gordon and I debated what to do and concluded we would take the amount it would cost to fly there and put it toward my walk next year in the Weekend To End Breast Cancer. You will all be called upon to sponsor me for this 40 mile walk. My goal is $3000. I'll be walking for Debbie and my cousin Cindy who both lost their lives to breast cancer.

This is my tribute to Debbie. It was read at her funeral by her daughter Katie.

Remembering my dear friend Debbie

Tannehill 2 Debbie and I became friends in 1984 through our husbands. Steve and Kent were best friends, so after Kent and I married, she and I were forced into friendship. She was forceful, blunt and assertive -- in many ways, my polar opposite. I was aloof and snotty, she was jovial and gregarious.  Being assertive like she was, she forced her way into my life and I fought her every step of the way.  Debbie always forgave me, always accepted me for who I was, only occasionally calling me a snot. 

As we grew closer, I didn’t think I could love and appreciate her more. But when my first baby was born Debbie became an even bigger part of my life. She loved my Stephanie, loving to take her out, babysit her, and buy her special things.  There’s no better way to worm your way into a mother’s heart than to love and dote on her baby. Debbie was that person in my life. She loved my baby and I loved her more for it.

We eventually ended up living on the same block, just a few houses from each other. Over the years we realized we had "community" before it became a popular term. Back then neither of us knew how good we had it. How many people can walk to their best friend's house in two minutes? How many people can feel comfortable chatting in the living room while the other irons? How convenient is it when you can phone and say, "We're ordering Sonic. Y'all want anything?" I'd give nearly anything to have that kind of "community" now.

Debbie was hilarious, laughed easily, and never took herself too seriously. She was also quirky. I've never been big into the ironing scene, but Debbie use to iron everything. How could someone so detailed in ironing totally miss obvious details in other areas? One evening Debbie cooked supper for us. On this particular night there were four jugs of curdled milk sitting on her table; there had only been three a few nights earlier. When Kent and I walked home, he said, "There was another jug of sour milk on the table tonight."  He sighed, "I've been thinking, maybe we shouldn't eat her cooking anymore." Twenty years later, Debbie and I still laughed about that.

She was my co-conspirator and we spent hours in each other’s living room, car and kitchen scheming. Once we decided we could make some serious money by having a booth at a craft sale. Over a few months, we sanded, stained, and painted a bazillion geese, cutting boards, and bright wooden tulips. The night before the craft sale as we knelt on the floor wrapping our hand-crafted valuables, Debbie said, "I figured it up. If I sell everything I've made, I'll make $435." Our craft sale weekend delivered a heaping dose of humiliation. We sold one cutting board and it was, no doubt, a sympathy purchase.

Debbie and I were always trying to make money. On our last garage sale I wore a new, grossly uncomfortable, under-wire bra. I went inside to take it off for some much needed relief. I had no more gotten in off when Debbie bolted through the back-door screaming indiscernible craziness. "GET OUT THERE! Oh Dear Jesus, help me! GET OUT THERE! GET OUT THERE! Bob, Bertha and Bessie are out there. GO, GET OUT THERE!"

I didn’t have the first idea what was wrong with her or why she couldn't face these older folks from church, but I wasn’t about to go outside without a bra on. She screamed again, "GET OUT THERE!" and I screamed back, "I DON'T HAVE A BRA ON. I CAN'T GO OUT THERE." We screamed like crazy women and I'm sure our patrons heard us. Debbie calmed down enough to forgo yelling to beg, "Please, you've got to go out there. All the wedding gifts they gave us are out there."

We both ended up out on the patio. Bob, Bertha and Bessie bought all the gifts they'd given Steve and Debbie as wedding presents, going to Debbie to pay for them.  That day, I thought we just might die laughing.

Once during Debbie’s treatments she went to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor did his touchy-feely thing with Debbie’s breasts. Anxious to confirm there were no new lumps, Debbie asked, “Do they feel good?” She was able to laugh at herself immediately.

Her ability to laugh at herself is one of the things I admired most about her. She was my mentor in moving beyond humiliations and foibles. Whereas I could be embarrassed for hours on up to 25 years, Debbie was able to immediately see the humor in her own mis-steps and mis-speaks.

(Easter 2010)

TannehillsDebbie was an awesome friend and an amazing person, one of the most amazing I’ve ever known. Through her illness, she didn’t complain, never sought sympathy, continued to laugh, to see beyond herself and her problems. Debbie had more selfless devotion in her pinky finger than I will ever have this side of heaven. Debbie loved her family and would share sweet and funny snippets from their lives with anyone who would listen. She loved to talk about her kids. Katie, I remember when she called to tell me  you thought all babies came from the airport (all Debbie's babies did come from the airport). She was the proudest mom in the world when she finally got you, the gift she’d waited for so long. Caleb, she loved the man you are becoming. She loved your strength of character, your dependability in helping out, your love and affection. Carli, you were such a gift to your mom. She told me about your sweetness, tenderness and wit.

This world lost a treasure last week. Thankfully we have memories of who Debbie was; strong, wise, faithful and true, and ceaselessly pointing to Jesus in the way she lived.

I wish I could be at this celebration today. Debbie’s been promoted and I wish I could be at her promotion ceremony. I have no doubt she heard “Well done my good and faithful servant” last Saturday evening.


memaw's passing

(Memaw, left and Uncle Kelsey, 1917)

013_13 (3)Elsie Eason Piearcy age 94 of Mena died Friday, September 17, 2010 at her home. She was born on Tuesday, June 13, 1916 to James Lonnie and Llewlyn Moore Ross Keen in Binjin, Arkansas.

Elsie was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She was married to her first husband, Red for 50 years and raised seven children. After Red’s passing she married Bill Eason and was married 6 years to him before his passing. Family was very important to Elsie and they were her most treasured possession. She was a faithful member for over 50 years at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Wickes and after moving to Mena she joined the Calvary Baptist Church in Mena. Serving and doing the Lord’s work was something Elsie took very seriously and hardly ever let a day go by without sharing her faith to someone, either by doing a good deed or just by the way she lived her life. For 15 years she worked at the Bogg Springs Missionary Baptist Camp and enjoyed seeing everyone year after year.

(Ma, Pa, Kelsey, Memaw, Inez early 1920's )

013_13 She is preceded in death by her parents James and Llewlyn Keen; her first husband Phillip “Red” Piearcy; her second husband Bill Eason; one son David Piearcy; one daughter Cleta Rose; one brother Kelsey Keen; one sister Inez Beasley; three granddaughters Deborah Jean Callahan, Cindy Gramer and Melody Smith.

Survivors include three sons and daughter in laws, Phillip and Beth Piearcy of Mena, Bob and Denise Piearcy of Mena and Jackie and Carla Piearcy of Perry, Arkansas; two daughters GeralDean Funderburk and her husband Bob of Mena and Vernie Jean Smith of Mena; one daughter in law Virginia Piearcy of Justin, Texas; one sister Betty Alexander of Little Rock; seventeen grandchildren; forty-nine great grandchildren; twenty four great-great 013_13 (2)grandchildren; several nieces and nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

Funeral services will be Monday, September 20, 2010 at 2:00 P.M. at the Hall Funeral Service Chapel in Mena with Brother Donnie Jewel and Brother Doyne Cantrell officiating. Interment will follow in the Daniel Cemetery in Wickes. Visitation will be Sunday, September 19, 2010 from 4-6 P.M. at the Hall Funeral Service Chapel.

Pallbearers will be Michael Callahan; Greg Smith, Paul Piearcy, Todd Piearcy, Fred Rose and Derek Smith.

Honorary Pallbearers will be David Piearcy, Josh Austin, Philip Piearcy, C.J. Callahan, Jacob Gramer, Jeff Shreve, Jonathon Alexander and Hunter Piearcy.

(1936, Memaw, Jill, Mama, Inez) 

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I thought the obituary in the paper was lovely. At the funeral my sister read her tribute to Memaw. It was even lovelier. I know Memaw would have been very pleased. Here is Diane's tribute:

(2010, at her 94th birthday party)

Memaw I am Memmaw’s oldest living grandchild.  I had occasion to live with Memmaw and Padad the first couple of years of my life.  Though I do not remember it, I have always felt that that circumstance created a special bond between me and them.  Actually, I thought that I was their favorite.  As the years have worn on, however, I realized that other cousins thought they were the favorite.  And in time, I had to concede that Iwas not the special one, but it was Memmaw.  She had the ability to convey to her abundant crew of descendants that each and every one of them held a special place in her heart.  I hope I can master that art like she did with my own grandchildren.

When I review my memories of Memmaw, I am glad that I can well remember beyond the last few years when she has been confined to a wheelchair and a little detached because she could not hear all that was being said around her.  I remember her as busy, somewhat robust, a hard worker, loving, and proactive before the term was popular.  I always smile when I think of Memmaw getting the urge to remodel her home.  Not of the modern school of thought that requires one to draw up the plans and get three bids, Memmaw—in her late sixties or early seventies—took a hammer to her walls and started demolishing them.  And all this in a dress!

(5 generations, 2009)

5 generations with romanAnd speaking of dresses, I only saw Memmaw in pants once in my entire life.  Her church was having a Sunday afternoon baseball game.  Memmaw donned a pair of slacks and faithfully participated.  My mom said, “Mother will do anything for the church!”

I remember hearing one of my uncles bemoaning the fact that most of his friends’ “elderly” mothers were irritating because they drove too slow.  Not his mother!  She got speeding tickets.

And no tribute to Memmaw would be complete without mentioning the legacy of laughter she has passed down to us.  I used to think that all families were like ours—that when they get together, they laugh.  It has only been this year that I have learned through a couple of observant outsiders that that is not the case.  My earliest childhood memories are of Sunday afternoons at Memmaw’s house with all her kids and each of their little broods assembled for Sunday lunch and a full afternoon of laughter.  Memmaw had the ability to see humor in life—even at her own expense.  She would laugh at herself as quickly as she would laugh at anyone or anything else.

(Memaw visiting her parents' graves in Hugo, Oklahoma)

031_31

The greatest legacy Memmaw leaves us is a spiritual one.  From earliest childhood, I heard the term, “being saved.”  I knew that this was of the utmost importance, because on this subject, Memmaw did not laugh.  We were taught by word and by example that everything else in life was a far second to the knowledge that you were “right with God.”  This emphasis caused me to record and to always acknowledge the date of my salvation—June 30, 1969—because I intuitively knew that that date was actually more important than my “natural birthday.”

Memmaw, though minimally educated, was a student of the Word of God.  Her Bible did not collect dust.  She read it—even in the last weeks of her life, she read with the help of a magnifying glass.  She loved discussing it, not for the sake of debate, but because she truly believed that in the word of God are the secrets of abundant life.

(2010, our last picture of Memaw. Although she looks pretty, I was amazed how she looked nothing like herself, at least not to me. This is the first time I've ever seen her not smiling.)

Memaw in casket Of all Memmaw’s gifts to us, the rarest one is her longevity.  And I am not speaking of her 94 years of life on this earth.  I am speaking of her devotion to Christ.  There are lots of good starters when it comes to following Christ, but very few who finish like Memmaw did.  She never looked back; she never considered a different path; she never threw in the towel when the going got tough.  She finished her course.

Her gentle transition from mortality to immortality has served as a reminder to me—to all of us—that this life is only the beginning; it is not the end.  I am happy for Memmaw; I know all is well with her.  I can only imagine the joy that she is experiencing now.  I think the reason we all weep is because we feel as if a part of us has died, a part of our roots, our history.

 

Those of us who are walking with God can, no doubt, trace their spiritual heritage back to Memmaw’s influence and her prayers for us.  And it’s not over yet.  She has joined that great cloud of witnesses and now together with them she continues to cheer us on in our race here on earth.  Let us—those she loved the most—resolve to honor her memory in the most noble fashion: let’s follow her footsteps and finish well!

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Many of Memaw's descendants were with her when she died and were wowed by the awesomeness of the experience. When her heart rate was down to four or five beats a minute, the nurse told them she was in the process of passing. They put in a cd made by her son David (who passed away in 1987, I think). As he finished singing Beulah Land, she breathed her last breath. Truly a peaceful and very beautiful exit from this world. 

Memaw was very loved and I know she would have been (or was) very proud of her family right to the very end. Like Diane, I'm thankful for the Christian heritage she left for us. I want to follow in her footsteps and finish my race in life well.