April 03, 2022

For My Mother: A Simple Eulogy To My Greatest Inspiration and Biggest Fan

"Why aren't you writing?" she looked at me and questioned soberly. "You are a writer, Dawn. That's what you do. That's who you are. You need to start writing again."  I was driving my mother home one evening, and she was sitting next to me in the car. She was obviously unwell, but she was coherent enough to make this statement to me. It was startling, because I had never told my mother I wasn't writing. I hadn't seen her or heard from her in years. Not until the day I saw her walking on the road, and I picked her up. At the time, I didn't even know where she was living or how she was doing-- but somehow-- like some unseen telepathic connection-- she knew me. She knew how I was doing. She knew I wasn't pursing my first love anymore, and she admonished me for it. Somehow, she knew that I wasn't writing, and it didn't sit well with her. "Life is about decisions," my Mom told me. "I didn't make the best ones. You choose your life." My mother's wisdom always seemed otherworldly-- but she was right. My choices in life mattered, and I made a decision right there while holding her withered hands and slowly walking her into her home. I made the decision to live for me-- to pursue my dreams. To see what life as an author would take me. 
"Why aren't you writing?" she looked at me and questioned soberly. "

That was the day I went home and opened my computer screen-- and started perusing my short stories and story ideas for my first novel. I saw my mother's voice as a sign from God to start this business idea that I had floating around in my head. To start my own publishing company whereas I published my own works of literature and eventually others. My Mom was my first inspiration in life to write, and it made sense that she would be the sole inspiration for my company and my novels. In fact, my highest selling book is an homage to her: her struggle, her battle, her loss, and her legacy. My mother may not be much to others, but she was everything to me. Her words motivated me, inspired me, and even now as I type this blog-- her words are right there in my ear-- engraved in my mind.

"My Mom was my first inspiration in life to write, and it made sense that she would be the sole inspiration for my company and my novels."

This blog is not about me. This blog is about her. It's about the woman  who created me in the midst of a tumultuous marriage, who raised me for 17 years of my life, and who mourned my absence when our relationship was tragically cut short. It is about the woman who was the biggest inspiration in my life-- and my biggest fan. It is about a woman who is now gone forever, but I still see her everyday in my daughter's eyes. 

"Every time, I see your daughter-- all I see is Beverly." That's what a family member stated to me one afternoon, while holding my daughter in her arms-- and she was right. I see my mother in so many ways from my daughters love of cleanliness, to her intelligence, and her ability to pronounce "annoying" perfectly at the age of 2. My mother is gone, but her life is continuous. It lives on in through me-- and my siblings. We pass bits of my mother on, small pieces of her artistry, her talents, her intelligence and preserve her place in the world. 

" It is about a woman who is now gone forever, but I still see her everyday in my daughter's eyes."

Yet, I still see her hand over me. I see her in more than just my daughter-- I see her when I teach my English classes, or walk into a bookstore, or proofread an essay. My mother loved to read romance novels, she actual wrote a few novels (that I snuck downstairs to read in our home when I was a teenager), and I am filled with the memories I have of her reading and proofing my writing. In first grade, I wrote my first short story-- a comedy-- and I remember the pain when my mother told me to rewrite the sentences that were incorrect. She declared to me one afternoon that if I gave her any word from the dictionary-- that she could tell me what it meant-- and so I challenged her vocabulary for years. I would look up a word: idiosyncrasies, oscillatory, perfunctory-- and without hesitation my mother would tell me what it meant based on the root word and suffixes. My mother was a genius.

Yet, my mother's life  place was an arduous one. For her, this place, this world, was not kind. From battling her issues with mental illness, family strife, addiction-- and eventually the loss of her children, I realize that my Mom's life was one of tragedy. She never reached her full potential, she never once reached her dreams. Her dream was to have a big family like the Brady Bunch-- and although, she had children, although she was married-- she never accomplished having a true family. Instead of gaining a family, she lost hers. She lost everything. Her life could be summed up as one of perpetual loss-- and that is not a legacy I want to pass on. The legacy of loss is a black legacy-- ingrained in our DNA from the trials of slavery and genocide and civil upheaval of the 60s. We have encountered 400 years of loss, and my mother was no different. However, I refuse to focus on her failures, on her losses-- instead I focus on her inner strength as a woman, her ability to fight, her strong will. To my daughter, that is the legacy I choose to pass on-- but even that is not enough.

"We are my mother's legacy. We are the ones left behind to continue her story."

As I stood before my brothers, her body lying still beside me shrouded in the United States Flag of a lost Veteran, and the lyrics of "Mama" by Boys II Men loudly eulogizing the last moment I would ever see my mother's face-- I understood something significant. I understood that she was a person, an imperfect person-- but she was simply a person. She lived, and she died, and her legacy lives on through me, and my daughter, and my brothers. We are my mother's legacy. We are the ones left behind to continue her story. Her story was written and etched into our hearts. So this blog post is for her. It's a moment in my writing life where I celebrate my greatest fan, my biggest inspiration, and the singular love of my life that literally taught me how to step forward into my future. She was my idol, my antagonist-- my balance, my conflict-- a complication that I would never replace. So, I spoke the last words I would ever speak before her and wrote one last message for my mother: her eulogy. 

For My Mom: Beverly's Eulogy

"He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8 ESV) My Mom was a tree-- a wounded tree, a damaged tree, a tree that weathered many storms, but she was a strong and sturdy tree. She had strong roots from all those trees that went before her, and she bore good fruit: She bore successful children, she bore the love of her friends and family, and she bore a good heart that will be forever missed. So, when you ask yourself, who was Beverly Gardner-- she was a mother, she was a soldier, she was jokester, she was a kind heart, she was a friend-- she was a strong tree that may have weathered many storms, broken branches, fallen leaves-- but she was an overcomer because she overcame them all. 

She bore three sons and a daughter: Jason who's a married stepfather with an associates degree in phlebotomy, David a Sargent (E-5) in the military who will soon graduate Columbus State University as a Commissioned officer in the fall, Joshua, a young man with a bachelors degree in Psychology and myself, Dawnell-- a 16 year teacher of Literature and Composition with a Masters Degree in Secondary English Education and a published author. Her children-- her fruit-- is her success. 

However, her successes weren't just limited to her children. She had her own success during her arduous lifetime. After, being tragically involved in a hit and run accident as a young child and developing a critical disability that affected her well into her adult life-- she was told that she would never amount to anything. Her mother tried to convince her to marry a military officer, but my mother said "why marry a soldier when I could be a soldier." She proved everyone wrong. She accomplished a successful military career,  she owned a home, she married and created a family. Instead of accepting the bad hand dealt to her in life, she decided to change it. 

My mother was a jokester, and well-loved by her friends and family. As a kid, I remember taking pictures of her sister's cakes and convincing everyone that she had baked it-- until my Aunt was forced to tell the truth. She would throw my Barbie's claiming they could fly; she would sometimes scare me when I walked down the hall. I remember the times she would have her friends and family members laughing so hard, they'd slap their knees and lean back in the chairs hollering "Beverly, you so crazy!" much to everyone's delight. 

My mother was aa giver. She would give you the clothes off her back. I remember for Thanksgiving she would make plates for people all over the neighborhood, especially those who had to work. She would drive around to the local gas station, banks, and other public service jobs and hand them a free plate of turkey, ham, greens and dressing with gravy. they would take those plates with a smile on their face and look forward to next year. In fact, she fed a group of strangers in teh neighborhood, who later broke into every car on the block-- except ours! Their wasn't a toy my brothers couldn't have from Pok√©mon posters to Power Ranger swords. 

Over the years, she wrote me countless letters apologizing for the things she did wrong. My mother owned up to her faults and shortcomings. She carried the burden of regret, and was hard on herself for the things she didn't do. But I forgave my mother a long time ago. No one is perfect. We all make bad choices, errors in judgement, and fall short. There is no such thing as a perfect parent-- all parents are just doing they best they can with the resources, knowledge, and wisdom they get along the way. She wasn't dealt the best hand in life. Nothing that occurred to her was her fault. She didn't ask to be run over as a child, she didn't ask to struggle with a mental handicap for her entire life, she didn't ask to live the life that in many ways was a tragedy. So, many things are out of our control, some things just aren't our choices-- but the things she could control-- she did her best to get right. I am truly grateful for her attempts at being a good mother-- because without her, I wouldn't be here, my brothers wouldn't be here-- and we wouldn't by the success stories that stand before you. My mother did the best she could with the hand she was dealt. So, I don't focus on her mistakes-- I focus on her successes. She made sure her sons were supported financially even in her absence and she always let us all know she cared. She was always proud of our accomplishments and bragged about what her children had become.

My mother was in fact a tree She weathered so many storms, but now the storms are over. This life has passed away. However, if there is a life after this way one, I pray my mother gets a life that treated her much better than the one leaves today. As for those, she leaves behind-- I charge you to also be a strong and sturdy tree like our Mom, to weather through each storm and overcome them all, and to bear good fruit like she did. Pass on her legacy, to your own children, just as I will pass on her successes to mine, so that our Mom lives on forever through our love, success and support of one another. Her kindness, her love, her laughter, her strength lives on in us. 

Thank you. 



Dawnell Jacobs is the author of The Shade of Devotion, Brains Not Included, Black Magic, and The Monsters of Within: Heart of Darkness. She has also published a self-help book Your Story Matters: Leaning How To Be The Author of Your Destiny. You can find all of her books on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and Barnes And Noble. She is also a motivational speaker to young audiences. She uses her personal journey to inspire hope and change. All pictures and entries in this blog are subject to copyright laws. ©Dawnell Jacobs 2018. 

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