On June 13, my Mom, Elizabeth “Pudge” Minter finished the fight and won the race. For 89 years, she had kept the faith, and God has called her home.
When Sister Inga and I left for New Jersey on May 15, I knew my Mom was ill; but I did not realize how extremely weak she had become. Despite excellent care at our care center in Lodi, NJ, Mom’s heart grew weaker and weaker. I was blessed to spend the past month doing for Mom as she had always done for me, and I was able to be present when she needed me most.
I would like to share some thoughts from Mom’s eulogy, to help you know my Mom as I knew her…
Elizabeth R. ‘Pudge’ Minter
“Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Proverbs 31:31
I would like to share with you how I saw my mom for the past 56, almost 57, years of my life. My mom, Elizabeth, known to many of you as Pudge, was a woman of faith. I don’t think it was a coincidence that mom left this life for her eternal life during the Year of Faith on June 13, which was the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the great evangelizer, preacher and missionary. We are reminded this year as Catholic Christians that Jesus Christ is challenging each one of us to consider what new step we might take to respectfully make our faith visible and heard in our daily lives. My mom did just that; for as long as I have known her, she did this everyday of her life.
The Word of God was the center of her life. Every morning she sat with the Word; she prayed and meditated on it faithfully, so that the Word would become flesh in her, be fulfilled in her, through her thoughts, words and actions. My family knows this is true because when mom/granny wrote us one of her famous letters, she would always quote from the scriptures. She loved the Book of Proverbs and the other Wisdom books. Jesus Christ was in my mom’s daily reality, Jesus Christ was her reality.
In the Book of Proverbs we read, “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.” Proverbs 31:10-11 My mom was a faithful wife, mother, granny and friend. She lived from the Word of God. My Sister and brother saw this in the marriage covenant my mom and dad shared. They were not just husband and wife; they were best friends. My mom stayed married to my father even after death. They had a steadfast love, an unconditional love, a love that lasted forever. We learned commitment from them–my brother and sister in their marriages, and me in my vowed religious commitment. I saw this clearly, especially the last year of my father’s life, when my mom was at his bedside every minute. She fulfilled the Word from Matthew 19:6: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They both fulfilled 1 Corinthians 13…”Love is patient, kind, not jealous, rude, seeking self interest…Love never fails.” Yes, Jesus Christ was in my mom’s daily reality, Jesus Christ was her reality.
Mom loved her family, supporting each and every one of us. She was so proud of Marjorie, a faithful wife and mother, a nurse, a famous real estate broker in Massachusetts, and a fighter as she battled with cancer. How she bragged about Jimmy and his vocation as an army and civilian pilot, and how proud she was of the strength he had to embrace at the loss of his young son 24 years ago. And for me, my faith and my love for the scriptures and for this one holy Catholic apostolic Church, as well as my love priests is because of my mom. I watched her read the word daily and become what she read. Her love for the Word, and her dedication to the Church, especially through her music ministry, has inspired me to be who and what I am today. She loved her grandchildren and only wanted the very best for each of them. No matter what blessing or cross came into our lives, she was there praying and begging God for what is the best for our interest. She made each of us very independent and strong in our characters. And believe me, we are all different. Yes, Jesus Christ was in my mom’s daily reality; Jesus Christ was her reality.
My mom loved the Book of Sirach. She knew and experienced the true meaning of friendship. In Sirach chapter 6:14-16, we read: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy…” Marj Miller was my mom’s best friend for over 75 years, they talked on the phone, visited each other, celebrated the joys and sorrows of each other’s families; they even went to high school reunions together, and their last one was a just a few years ago. It was a privilege and honor to go with her back to Missouri. These best friends learned from each other and fulfilled this passage from Sirach.
Mom also had many good and close friends here in Rossmoor. My mom had Church and music friends, golf friends, and priest and nun friends; and everyone has said how grateful they were to have known her or that she has helped them in one way another, whether through her music, getting them a good golf teacher, but most of all as a spiritual inspiration. Her friends that she had made over the years were there for her at every moment. I am forever grateful for her dear friends, Carolyn Glosser and Connie and Johnnie Heuser, who are like sisters and a brother to me. Their faithful friendship and compassionate care giving was a real reflection of God.
Mom loved Immaculate Conception School in Spotswood. For the past 20 years, she taught children to love the liturgy and to know the Mass in song. She worked until Ash Wednesday of this year. This was her passion; this gave her life; and this is where she received her energy. For the past 16 years, she studied organ with the famous Brenda Day, who is here with us today. Brenda played the prelude before this celebration and will play mom’s favorite piece at the end of this Mass. She also got Brenda hooked onto golf and encouraged her to take lessons from the famous pro golfer, Johnnie Heuser. I have to mention that, at the age of 80, I think, my mom got a hole-in-one. She loved the game of golf.
In Psalm 90:10, we read: “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong.” I thought my mom was invincible because she had never really been sick a day in her life, until these past four months. She experienced a vulnerability that was not easy for a woman who was like the “energizer bunny,” who keeps going and going and going. Many of us are better at giving than receiving; that was my mom. Giving allows us to maintain some level of control, but to receive requires vulnerability that can be terrifying.
It came time that my mom couldn’t be so independent any longer and, in April, I asked my Felician family if she could stay in Our Lady of Lourdes Care Center. I thought Mom could get her strength back, and she would soon be able to return home. But God had other plans, and the Word of God was once again fulfilled in my mom. In John 21:18-19, we read: “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!””
My Felician family cared for my mom–my sisters in community treated her like she was their mother; the nurses and staff loved her and cared for her tenderly and lovingly as though they were caring for Jesus. For the past four weeks, I had the privilege and honor to be with Mom 24/7, to love her and care for her and, most of all, to walk the last part of this life’s journey to real life in Christ. Yes, Jesus Christ was my mom’s daily reality; Jesus Christ was her reality.
We pray in the words of Proverbs: “Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Proverbs 31:31