Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Remembering 2013

January 
April & Daryl's wedding.
Getting all the family together.
Celebrating Christian's return from South America after 18 months.




February 
Met some funny friends at the Virginia for Lovers 14k....they tracked me down on Facebook.

March 
We took Angela and Christian to Lubbock where they both graduated from mission school.
They got engaged is the most creative way.
Regaina and I drove back and had fun in New Orleans.
I went to DC for the AIA Grassroots Conference.








April 
Regaina and I visited Lightfair in Philadelphia.
IONIC went to the circus.





May
We celebrated our 25th anniversary in Raleigh. Business and Pleasure!
We began the design for office expansion.




June 
It's all about the flowers and enjoying our backyard Sanctuary.
We went to Campbell Univ. to see my niece graduate.
Visited my favorite pub, Flying Saucer Emporium and became a UFO member.





July 
Ran my first race in nearly 5 months on Fourth of July.
Enjoying a bit of sunshine......in my convertible.
Went to Myrtle Beach. Business and Pleasure again....okay maybe more pleasure!





August 
Ran mud and music mayhem, 6 miles w/ obstacles.
Began the OSU watch parties.



September 
Went to the WVU vs OSU football game in Morgantown.
Ran furtherest ever.....14 miles along the water way.
Was the MC for the baby shower....what in the world am I doing?



October 
Celebrated Christian and Angela's wedding.
Once again got all of our crazy family together.
Lazy afternoons




November
Another milestone....first 20 mile run.
Another milestone....first grandchild.
Thanksgiving Day with my new Steeler buddy.




December 
The death of mom was tough.
But we got all the family together.
Even my brothers and sister......a great reunion.
Our Christmas is always something a bit wacky!





Time flys by fast.....enjoy your family now my friends.....don't wait!

Have you made your New Years resolutions/goals?

Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Eulogy for My Mother


These were the notes that I read for my mother's funeral on December 19, 2013 that were prepared on our flight out to Oklahoma.
 
Welcome to all of you. My name is Eugene Thompson and my family has afforded me the opportunity to speak for a few minutes about our mother, whose life we are all celebrating here today together.

We call it a celebration because that's what I believe she would have wanted for us today, to be strong. Regardless This is still hard. This still hurts.
 
There is a void.....like an empty well......and our well is dry, and we keep dropping the buckets back down the hole....but they still come back up empty. Today we scour our hearts for comfort.

I realized as I set about this task, that a son sees his mother in a different context than those of you who are lifelong friends or other family members. It will even be difficult to speak on behalf of my siblings since I was so much younger......I was always considered the baby......But I will try to represent our shared feelings of love, devotion and admiration we all felt towards our mother.

To start off, a short story so we can set the tone for who our mother was, let me clarify something in case you might be confused. Most of you probably knew me by Darrel Eugene Thompson growing up. 20 years ago when I began working in Philadelphia I decided to go by my middle name. There was this show on television that had the characters who always introduced themselves as, "Hi, my name is Larry and this is my brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl." Well you can imagine the number of times I was asked "where my other brother Darrel was."

I had told mom that I had decided to go by my middle name from now on and if she would please use Eugene. She proceeded to tell me that she had given me both names and she could call me whatever she darn well pleased........that was my mom. Just a bit on the obstinate side.

I had to inform my office secretary that if she received any calls for....Darrel.....that it was either a bill collector or my mother. I'm not sure she ever called me Eugene.

When we think of mothers, we like to imagine our moms as the June Cleavers' of the world. You know the kind....the ones that keep everything clean and orderly – the kind that baked cookies every afternoon for after school. The kind that had dinner ready on the table when your father arrived home from work. The kind that would never say a harsh word......always talking of encouragement. The kind of mother that would never have a hair out of place. You know.....the Wilma Flintstone who's hair stands up on end and then falls back in perfect order. Now I have seen some old black and white photos of mom with her "hair" sticking up....with the help of an inordinate amount of hairspray.

Other than that I cannot say that describes our mom the way I remember her. And I do know that she did much more of those things for Mike, Marilyn and Don before I was born. Now don't get me wrong.....I believe ......without a doubt she loved us all very much. To her credit, I don't think I have ever met a June Cleaver.

What I best remember our mother as a helpmate to our father. Therefore, much of the stories I have to share today about our mother includes our father. They were inseparable.

Mary Luella Clark was born on August 13, 1931 in Colorado Springs Colorado. She would have been 83 this next year. She was the daughter to Mary and Ray Clark. And sister to three brothers. Ray, Robert and George.

Shortly after her birth, I understand that their family moved to Little Rock Arkansas for a short time before grandpa got a job in Pittsburg Kansas in the late '30s This is where she grew up and went to school. Mom never shared a whole lot with me about her childhood with the exception of a few stories. I know she loved math as well as reading. She loved reading books as a kid and continued reading until she died. Her house is full of paperback novels. As a kid, One of her favorite series was Little House on the Prairie. She tried to inspire us kids to read. I was a little more resistant. She even tried getting me to read the little house on the prairie books but there was no way that was happening. I think that disappointed her a bit.

When elementary school started forcing you to read.....can you imagine the public school system doing such a thing?.....she once again was a little disappointed in me because the books I selected to read were these little thin things about sports heroes. The life of Bart Starr, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and so on. She told me those didn't count. I told her that technically they did......because they were "books" and they were in the library.......I remember the frown she gave back to me. I finally did read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but only because I saw the movie first.

I disappointed her again when in JR High when instead of a doing a proper book report I again turned to a movie book and read Young Frankenstein. I was even supposed to give an oral report standing up in front of the class which I evaded by drawing a giant poster picture and just standing stupidly quiet in front of my classmates. I got an A for that report. My mom she shook her head at me.......that's okay, it was mom....she still loved me.

I was told that in school our mom also played basketball and was pretty good at it. She didn't think it was funny when I asked her if basketball was even invented back that far. I had always found the thought of her playing basketball odd just because I never saw my parents do anything that would ever qualify as active.  She did enjoy watching basketball on TV....not quite as much as football but she did enjoy it. Either her eye sight was going or she needed a new TV because at one time she thought that Shaq was white. How she ever thought that giant seven foot tall black man was anything but black I will never know.....and the fact that she argued with me about it for days. That was mom......she made us laugh too.

Mom eventually met dad, Kenneth Wray Thompson, in school and they were married June 2, 1951. They lived in a few places as they started off their lives together but they first lived for a short period in Minnesota where she was a telephone operator.  You know the kind that had to plug in the cords into a big switch panel? Mike, just must have been pregnant with you during that time because she mentioned to me only recently that she could no longer stretch from ones side of the switch board to the other while balancing on a stool.....it was safe. From their they moved to a few different places, due to Dad being a Jewel T salesman, Frontenac Kansas, Fayetteville Arkansas and back to Pittsburg before they called Bartlesville home right around 1961.

Mom, Dad, Mike, Marilyn and Don first moved into a small house over on Seneca Street. I wasn't even a thought yet.

At first, mom worked at a bread store over near Frontier pool but most of the time she was mom to her three children who needed her at home.

Earlier I joked about comparing mom to June Cleaver but I believe that she did all those things and more as much as possible. She took care of the house and my brothers and sister......cooking and sewing clothes......while dad did his best to provide for the family. They had it rough trying to make ends meet but between the two of them they loved their family and they loved each other.

That is the definition of a helpmate.

Genesis 2:18
 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

God had seen that Adam wasn't going to be able to do all of these things alone, so he provided Eve. She was not only his helper but they became one, pretty much inseparable. That is how I remember our parents.

About a year after I was born, in 1966 dad opened the tax office. As I mentioned, there was a pretty big gap between my older brothers and sister. They were 8, 10 and 12 years older than me. Life changed a little and I was raised a little different than them.......in the office.

You might have looked at it like I was spoiled. I didn't have to share anything. I had it easy. I looked at like you guys were able to share the chores......when you grew up and moved away......I had to do all the chores! There wasn't anyone to share them with.

It wasn't long at all before Dad's business grew and needed mom to come and help. He didn't really ask....she didn't really want to leave the kids at home but he needed her....that is why I was dragged along and basically grew up in back office. From then on they were always together in work and play. They went to work together. They went to lunch together. Murphy's Steak House. They didn't have much down time but when they did, they square danced together. Maybe a few movies later on......again always together......And then some more work together. Dad was a little bit of a workaholic. Mom didn't drive back then so they had to be together. Mom was even there with him on those late nights during tax season. She wouldn't leave his side. She helped run the office while he prepared the taxes. Back in the day before computers.

She made copies of all the taxes for the clients, ran the photocopying business, ran the Western Union business.......she helped dad with all those crazy new schemes he would come up with to make an extra buck for the family. For the next twenty years they were by each other's side. Working each day side by side. Loving each day side by side. Living their lives each day side by side. Our mom had became a different type of helpmate.

Mom continued helping Dad with his next round of wild business ventures. They took business trips to the Cayman Islands, Mexico City, Zihuataho, and even through the states. There was the non aerosol patent, the ice machine for fishing boats and even the various tax offices he opened around Oklahoma. Mom was there by his side supporting him all the time.

Things got easier financially for them as the business grew. But I don't think the finances necessarily made it any easier on mom. Working side by side with your husband isn't always an easy task. You can ask Regaina about that. Some of us entrepreneurs are a bit stubborn at times and more than likely a bit difficult to live with. Now you know where mom got it from. When Dad was diagnosed with diabetes their lives changed. Mom needed to once again become a different type of helpmate.

She cared for our father daily. She had to watch what he ate and began preparing more meals for him.....salads.....no more Murphy's Steak House. Every morning our mother would take his insulin out of the refrigerator and bring it to him so he wouldn't forget to take it.
Because he would.

She had to be careful that he didn't overwork himself too much.
He did anyway.

She had to make sure he didn't stress too much.
He did anyway.

Living with a diabetic isn't easy. Back then especially. You get moody, tired easy, depression often, angry easily. Dad was no different. Even with these new struggles in their lives, it was pretty rare to hear them argue, even as his health continued to get worse. Her support and love gave us all an example to follow in our own lives.

When our father did pass away it created a huge hole in her life. As you would imagine. And as it did for us all. Although we should have anticipated it, death is never expected. Just as hers has caught us all unprepared.

For the next 28 years Mom continued on with her life....doing what she could do to keep going. We knew she missed dad terribly. She took small odd jobs to keep herself busy and make some money. She worked as a gas station attendant, convenience store clerk and a check out at several cafeterias.

We didn't have much but we tried several times to get her to come out to Virginia to live with us.......but she wouldn't......this was her home.

WHY

We ask why. Why does God allow sickness and death? Why did God choose this time to take our mother?

First of all God never said we wouldn't have sickness. Ever since Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden he told us that we would work and toil and have pain. No longer in the garden, our bodies would grow old and eventually fail us. Our bodies were meant as a mere vessels to carry our souls. He didn't want us to live forever. He didn't want us to desire this world so much that we wouldn't want to leave. To leave ......  and join him in heaven.

So God gave us a free will so that we would want to follow his commandments and to want to love him. Love him enough to put all the worldly things aside and to seek for ourselves what was right and just. To seek just what King Solomon discovered.

Solomon was one of the wisest men on earth. Because of his faithfulness God asked what he wanted in return. Solomon asked for wisdom. God gave him everything else to go with it. Power, wealth, knowledge and understanding. He didn't withhold anything.

In Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote about how he had been so blessed......but has yet to find happiness or satisfaction under the sun. Everything is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11
I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards.  I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.  I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.  I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
 
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Solomon had found out that all the material wealth here on earth meant nothing. All of it would eventually fade away and there would be no value.

The next question is why now? Why this time for our mother?

That is a good question.....we don't know when he will call us home but we know God has a plan and that there is a time for everything. And we need to believe in it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Everything has it's time

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

So even Solomon with all his wealth and great power wasn't able to create anything on this earth that would last.......no temples, no great gardens, no people remain, nothing exists....just his faith......and his words of his faith. They have survived for thousands of years beyond the decay.

Likewise with our mother, there will be no account of her physical things. What will remain is what we choose to remember her by. Today, I choose to honor her by remembering only the positive things.
I choose to cherish these memories and share them with our children and our grandchildren and one day...our great grandchildren.
I will tell them about her and they will know her name, and who she was, and what she means to us.
 
This is what will bring us comfort.

 I choose to believe and remember that our mother was a good person. Not a perfect person....certainly not without fault......but then again which one of us are perfect? Regardless, She is still our mom and I love her.

I choose to remember her delivering great joy to her family. Not standing in the spotlight,....but she was our light and our glue. She gloried in her family and friends, her grandchildren and great grandchildren .....and her doggies. She loved those silly critters. She deserved more peace and happiness.....and less difficulty....than was afforded to her over these last years.

Our mother will become greater than all of us. She will not just be remembered as mother or wife or sister or aunt or grandmother or even great grandmother that died. To honor her ...... and because of her, I believe that our families that have been somewhat estranged by distance and time and difficulty can became a single large unit – she was our matriarch, and her iron can forge us into something greater than we were .......multiple threads of family .......woven into one.

Once again a helpmate. This we can find comfort and celebrate.

She was our mother, and in that role we could not have asked for more. She did everything she was supposed to do and more – she took care of us when we were sick, celebrated our victories, comforted us in defeat, punished severely those that dared harm us, and pointed us......rather firmly at times....in the right direction.

After all that she was and is, our mother has one more role to play. She will become our ancestor, and it is that for which we stumble now. There is no quiet where we are. Our well is dry, and the buckets come back up empty. Now we choose to scour our hearts, and we scour them with grief.

But I have this picture in my mind. I see Dad welcoming her home. His outstretched hands reaching for her and embracing her.....by his side once again. No pain, no tears.

As for us, This is hard. This hurts.
Our mother taught us to be strong.
She expects us to carry on, and so we will.
We will be okay. We will fill up again.

But for now, the well is dry, and the buckets come back up empty. Now there is no quiet where we are. Now we scour our hearts.

We love you mom. You can rest now.

 

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

BLESSINGS OF FAMILY

Ken and Mary Thompson
Well this past week was one of the longest and most draining weeks I have had in a long time. A little over a week ago I learned of my mothers passing. She was 82 years old and was ready to go but that is never something you are prepared for. Certainly for all of us who are left behind, we are all sad. For her I feel that she has now some peace and is without pain. There is some consolation in that knowledge.

I do feel that there was a blessing that occurred from this loss. That was the ability to see all of our kids just before Christmas. Not everybody was going to be able to come home for the holidays this year. We were able to see each other, spend a little time and enjoy each other's company. We shared some laughs and comforted each other with hugs.

I feel blessed that I got a hug at just the right moment from my kids. I needed it to get through some of the tough times. That was certainly a comfort to me. I thank each one for being able to be there for our support.

Another blessing was the opportunity to be together with my siblings. We haven't been together in nearly 15 years. It has been such a long time. Far too long. All of our kids are grown and we have turned grey but it was so nice to share a few moments in mom's house.....even under the circumstances. Again, being able to embrace one another and comfort each other in our time of need was a blessing. I am so glad that we were able to be there together. I pray that we stay connected much better as time marches forward. 

I have neglected the opportunities to get together with the rest of my family that lives in Kansas. It was great to see my cousins and their children from my Uncle Rex and Aunt Virginia's side of the family. I remember the times we got together when I was growing up long ago. I missed out on the opportunity a few years ago to see them all at the family reunion. Something that I will not fail at again. Family is too important to miss and time is too short to waste.

There were a few moments in our brief gathering that we were able to share some stories of the old times. Opportunities for my children to finally meet the other side of their family. After one story, my Uncle Gene did one of those belly laughs that caused a flood of memories to return. It was their distinct laugh between Gene, Rex and my father that will never fade from my recollection. I love those laughs. I also was so glad that my Uncle Robert and Aunt Carol from my mother's side were there. This was another great blessing. 

A lot of sadness which was to be expected. A lot of love and sharing which will be fondly remembered. I thank everyone for their out pouring of condolences. They were very much appreciated and showed how much everyone cares. This was a tough week for me and I am sure I will struggle from time to time as certain memories hit me and I realize that now both my mother and father have gone. Knowing that I cannot ever see them face to face again, call them on the phone, sit with them, laugh with them and even cry with them.

My comfort comes from the belief that they are both together finally. Their bodies lay side by side in the cemetery in Pittsburg Kansas but their souls rare side by side in heaven......in peace.

Love you Mom and Dad......miss you both!


Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Mom

There is a time in most everyone's life that they will experience a loss. It never comes at a time that is better, convenient or appropriate. It just comes. Whether you are ready or not. Early this morning I woke up to find out that my dear mother had passed from this earth. She was 82.

She had seen a lot of life. Her and my father had been to so many places in their lives. They had trips to Mexico, the islands and just about every state in the US. My father ran a business for 20+ years with my mother by his side. They got to raise four kids, see them married, see their grand kids. And for my mother, she got four great grand kids before she passed. I am sure not everything was perfect but in the grand scheme of things most was blessed.

We were fortunate that we had convinced her to come out and visit last year (hoping that she would stay) even if it was for only a brief time. She loved her home and preferred to live her last days there. There with her three crazy dogs. They kept her company. That and watching football. She could have watched game after game....she always believed she knew the game better than she did. I never told her differently.

There are a lot of things that I remember of my mother mostly of those involving her watching my games. From basketball to baseball to football.....she was always there. I remember the time I was knocked out at the old YMCA when I was just young going for a lay up. The running track went above the court for spectators to watch. She was sitting above the basket and couldn't tell that I was out. However she knew the rule.......don't go out on the court or field! She didn't.

She sat in the bleachers at the old ball field under the hot Oklahoma sun watching game after game. My dad even went to a few of these. I can remember them sitting behind the backstop watching my games when I was older. Probably watching me strike out.....I never was that good at baseball. She was always there to support me regardless of my abilities.

She loved football......once I taught her the rules. She went to nearly every game possible. She loved the high school atmosphere and all the drama of football in a small Oklahoma town. The games were always exciting and yes.....even when I was knocked out once.....she didn't go out on the field! I remember my parents sitting in the stands at Custer Field sweating at the beginning of the season and freezing towards the end. Those lovely Oklahoma seasons.

My mom was always there for me.

High School graduation from Bartlesville High. College Graduation from Oklahoma State. My wedding. The birth of my kids. She was there.

She struggled through the passing of my father nearly 25 years ago. I know she was lonely. I know that she missed him. We all did. But she marched on. Continued with life. As difficult as it might have been for her. She loved the things that were familiar to her. She wanted to stay in that old house with her dogs. That is what made her comfortable. That was her home for 40+ years.

These times are always so tough. I know I didn't visit enough. I know I didn't call enough. That will probably always haunt me. There will be times that I will realize what will be missed. Things that will never again occur in this life. I will miss getting to hear her voice on the phone. I will miss getting a hug. I will miss telling her stories about how my business is growing and being successful......just like dad's. I will miss sharing about my children and now grandchildren. I will miss hearing her stories of their life together. I will miss seeing her. In all things, I will miss her.

What brings me peace is knowing that I truly believe she was ready to go. Her health had declined. She struggled. She will now be with my father. Right beside him....just like she was all those years. I can imagine her smiling right now being held in his arms. Not old and frail like they exited this world, but young and vibrant and full of energy.....just like those black and white pictures pasted in her photo book. Happy.....that is how I will choose to remember her.

Love you mom.....miss you already.
Your little boy