Friday, August 03, 2007

Mimi's Eulogy

Mimi's funeral was a real celebration of her life. All (7) of her kids made it there, and some grandkids, too. There were also quite a few pastors and people that are in ministry now because of Mimi and Papa's ministry. Below, I have posted her Eulogy, which my dad wrote/presented (all of the kids had some part in the service). It's long, because it chronicles their life and ministry (including their elopement!) but it is a good reminder of days gone by, and the lives that were led before technology. I especially liked the part about Mimi making breakfast for the soldiers they would find sleeping in their cars on Sundays.

So.....Mimi's Eulogy

We all know her by different names. Honey, Mom, Mrs. Ledbetter, Tot, Aunt Fleta, and Mimi. She was my mother. Most of the time I called her Mom. She was wife, cook, house cleaner, Pastor's wife, teacher, and a host of other titles - and all of them fit. Her parenting style was not soft and cuddly, it was more in the mold of a Marine Drill Sgt. She was born in grinding poverty at the beginning of World War I. She went through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Desert Storm and the Invasion of Iraq, and was not moved or dismayed by any of these man-made disasters. She had a firm, grounded, and sure faith in her Lord.
She went from battery powered radios to the internet. From the horse and wagon to space ships. She lived in a time when there was hardly any cars to the time when there are concrete arteries clogged with teeming millions of them. Her family walked through plowed fields of cotton, corn and Johnson Grass to watching others walk on the moon. What kind of an impression did that make on her? Not any that I could notice. She cared very little that a person could walk on the moon. She would rather know if you walked with the Lord.
Entertainment for the Powers family was far different from ours. A group of neighbors would gather on a porch belonging to one of the families in the group. One would have a guitar, another a mandolin, another a fiddle, (There was never a violin) then maybe there would be a Jews Harp, an accordion and any other musical instrument they could round up, and they would strum and pick the evening away, playing and singing all the old songs they could remember.
The kids who couldn't participate, or didn't want to participate in the music, played hide-n-seek, Red Rover Red Rover, Blind Mans Bluff, or any other host of games. Some would chase fire flies and put them in a jar. Others would just sit and talk.
Another source of entertainment was the Funnies from the Sunday Newspaper. Grandpa's budget was so tight he could not afford the subscription price. So they would wait until late Sunday evening and then go over to a neighbor's house to get their paper. Their version of recycling. One evening Mom and her closest competitor Aunt Mae was commissioned to get the Paper. Somehow Aunt Mae got the paper first and headed out the door a step or two ahead of Mom. After telling them thank you and good night, Mom took off after her. She knew if she didn't catch her, it would be the next day before she got to see the funnies. They flew down the street, rounded the corner with Mom breathing down Aunt Mae's neck. As she got ready to reach out and slow Aunt Mae down long enough to get the paper from her, every thing came to a jumbled stop. There were fierce animal noises, papers flying everywhere, and two young ladies screaming to the top of their lungs. Recovering as fast as they could they beat it back to the neighbor's house to report that they had been attacked by a bear. With lantern and shotgun in hand he started out to solve the mystery. The solution was not long in coming. They had run headlong into a 400 pound sow and her piglets who had escaped a neighbor's pen.
Not every evening ended that way. Most were quiet and unspectacular. Mom attended and excelled in school up through the tenth grade. That was one grade short of graduation. They only had eleven grades in those days. Grandpa needed her to work and help support the family which she did for a couple of years. One day she was standing on the east side of the Hillsboro High School when some guys from the local Civil Conservation Corps camp came walking by. One of them happened to be a brash young man by the name of Lloyd Sanford Ledbetter. He broke from his group and asked her if she would like for him to buy her a coke at the local drug store. She consented, and a romance began. Six months later On June the second, 1935, they were standing in front of their parked car in the middle of a dirt road in Blanton, Texas where Dad's brother-in-law performed the marriage ceremony that made them man and wife. They had eloped. Two weeks later her parents found out, and although they didn't like the way it happened they welcomed their new son-in-law into their family. That marriage lasted over 64 years.
When Dad separated from the CC Corps, they moved back to Cleburne, Texas, Dad's home town. With Mom's support the first thing they did was settle into a new church home. After visiting several churches in Cleburne and Ft. Worth, they decided on a small congregation there in Cleburne. It was the Chase Ave. Baptist Church. Their preacher at the time was Rev. Moon Mullins, a long time friend of my Dad's. Bro. J. Vernon McGee followed him, and then came Bro. Loys Vess. Dad and Mom both were saved under his ministry. After Bro. Vess was Bro. George Sullivan. This pastor had the heart of an evangelist and wanted to hold a revival meeting down town. It was when gasoline for cars was rationed. He felt it would allow them to reach more while not being a financial burden on the families. The Deacons informed him that he could do that if he liked, but when the meeting was over, don't come back to Chase Ave.. That was when Calvary Baptist Church of Cleburne was formed. Mom and Dad were charter members.
It was during these years that I came to see my Mom in a new light. One of my cousins had put on a little height and weight and thought he could push mom around. She pushed him away and told him to go fly a kite. He reached out to take hold of her and quick as wink she slipped her arm around his neck and stepped across in front of him and executed a hip roll that would make Hulk Hogan green with envy. He never bothered her again. I can still see the shocked look on his face as he lay on the floor trying to catch his breath.
A short time later Dad was called to preach, and moved from Cleburne to start the Calvary Baptist Church of Belton, Texas. Mom willingly gave up her home, their savings account, her family and kinsfolk to follow Dad in his new venture. One of the ministries she was called on to fulfill was preparing meals for soldier boys stationed at Camp Hood, later it was changed to Fort Hood. Dad dealt in automobiles to help support us in the ministry. Most of the churches funds came from Dad's tithes. My job was to go around to all the cars he had in our yard and wake up any of the soldiers asleep there and invite them in for breakfast. It was not unusual on Saturday's and Sunday's to have as many as five or six soldiers for breakfast. One who really stands out in my mind was one I missed one day. He came in after breakfast was over. Mom never batted an eye. He got breakfast, and as he sat there eating, Mom pressed upon him the Gospel and his need to get saved. He believed what she said, received Christ as his Savior and was baptized that Sunday. Six weeks to the day after he was saved he was shot dead on a battlefield in Korea. He came that close to a Christless eternity.
From Belton, we went to Sherman for nine months. Dad was an associate pastor to Bro. Sullivan, and then on to Gainesville to the Bible and Central Baptist Churches. What was developing in Mom's life was a burden for children. She started out with the young ones, but by the time Dad was pastoring the Central Baptist Church in Gainesville, she had moved up to teach the teens. She was my only youth director until I arrived at Baptist Bible College. There was one time when for a few months Bro. R. D. Wade was my youth director, but it was not long enough for me to be corrupted. Joke! Joke! He felt called to preach and soon headed to south Texas to pastor the church Dad had started. After I left home for College Dad and Mom moved to Sherman where they pastored for 17 years. From that ministry, there were as many as 30 young men and young ladies who went out from her youth department to minister the Word of God, literally around the world.
One of Mom's many talents was to welcome a host of people on a moment's notice. Dad would call her and say, "Mom, the Jones, missionaries to Mexico just pulled into town, can you help them out?" Mom would say, "Send them over, we'll find something to set on the table." And sure enough, by the time they got there, there would be a table full of food. Mom could make a pork-n-bean salad that was to die for. If you lived on a deserted island and that was all you had to eat, you could live off of it. With all the things Mom put into it, it supplied 100% of the minimum daily requirement for all vitamins and minerals, and a few other trace elements.
From Sherman, Mom and Dad moved to California, and after a short stay in Long Beach they moved to Fresno and ministered there for 23 years. From California she moved to Georgetown after Dad passed away. It was my privilege to be her primary caretaker after we lost Dad. When I say that I was the primary caretaker, I really mean Bettye was the primary caretaker. Mom trusted Bettye and would respond to her many times when she wouldn't respond to me. And sometimes when she was feeling ornery, she would do what I said and ignore Bettye. She had to be busy in the Lord's work, so we put her over the older children in Children's church. It was not unusual to see here bringing several children forward in our services to be saved. One of our girls, Jacqueline Mladan told her folks, if you didn't get saved, Mimi would beat the salvation into you. She would correct them right in the services, and out loud if they weren't behaving.
But the time finally came, she just did not have the patience for the ministry anymore, and one day as I was escorting her into the house, she confided in me - "Don, you need to find someone else to teach my class. I can't stand up to teach it any more and I just can't stand sitting down to teach.
Mom was a very simple person.
She lived by two simple rules.
One was, Obey all of God's rules.
The second one was, Obey all of my rules.
And, if there is a question, obey my rules first and then we will work on the others.

Don in Georgetown

1 comment:

Mike said...

Lovely eulogy Stacy. I just wanted to stop by to see how you were doing. I know this will be difficult for you but she has gone to a far better place than she has ever been before.

Wishing the best for you and your family.