I had been praying for several days whether or not we should cancel our trip to Italy. My 92 year old mother was very fragile and although I was trusting the Lord for direction it wasn’t until Sunday morning at 6 a.m. that I had a clear answer. Since 4 a.m. that morning I was preparing the last details for our 10:30 ride to the airport. When my sister called I knew we would cancel our flight and make the fourteen hour road trip to Michigan. We arrived at midnight on Monday and I spend the night at our mother’s bedside. She passed peacefully and gently into eternal life late Tuesday afternoon. I was at her side singing and praying as the Spirit of the Lord was upon her and she released her soul into His care.
Below is the eulogy I shared at her funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Erie, Pa.
Elizabeth Ann McLaughlin ~ January 23, 1921 ~ October 1, 2013
To God Be the Glory
In speaking for my brother, Dan and my sister, Carol, I would like to thank the Lord for His faithfulness in making provisions for our every need. Thank you Fr. Richey, Monsignor Smith, Jean and the music ministry for a beautiful Liturgy and celebration of our mother’s life. We want to thank the Lord for providing a way for our brother, Dan and Becky to be with us. This is nothing short of a miracle as Danny has been in the hospital and rehabilitation for the past three months. Danny and our parents were very close and it was important for them to be here. As a matter of fact, John and I arrived in MI on Monday evening at midnight after driving fourteen hours from Ga. Carol and I spent the night with our mother. About 3 a.m. Carol was in the restroom and when she came out I told her that our mother had opened her eyes and spoke to me. I told her that our mother said to tell her, that it was true about what we both had always thought: “Danny was her favorite.” We both laughed and Carol relayed a text message to him in the morning. We are so grateful that Dan and Becky could be here. I also want to thank Carol and Tim for the past five years of their loving caring for our mother. They did an amazing job and I pray that the Lord will bless them. Finally we want to thank all of you for being here today and for the efforts that all the grandchildren made in traveling to Erie. We truly appreciate your love.
Our mother’s life verse was: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This was the verse unknowingly both Carol and I had encouraged her to use for the last twelve years of her life as she struggled to meet her physical challenges.
As we arrived in Erie on Friday from MI, I asked John to drop me off at the library so I could write a few thoughts to give to Fr. Richey to help him understand why we had chosen the scriptures for our mother’s funeral. Both Carol and Fr. Richey thought that I should share them with you.
Romans 15: 13 “Now the God of Hope fills us with JOY and peace in believing that we may abound in hope through the Holy Spirit. Today we are filled with JOY, peace and hope, because we know without a shadow of a doubt that our mother, Elizabeth McLaughlin, is with her Lord and Savior, and her beloved husband, Paul Francis. She loved the Lord with all her heart and mind and with all her soul and she loved others as herself.
Proverbs 31 speaks of the Godly woman and that was our mother. She was humble in her own estimation but in the eyes of the Lord, she was a true gift to our father, Paul, and her children and grandchildren. Before my father passed away he told her she was more beautiful than the day he met her and sixty-six years later he loved her even more than he did the day they married. Mother was the love of his life and they were truly soul mates. Their commitment in good times and in difficult times in sickness and in health was an inspiration to everyone who knew them.
As a mother, she loved and nurtured her children and her grandchildren. She never tired of showing them love in all the special things she did to make our house a home. As small children she would sing Irish songs and hold us and stroke our brow when we were sick. She did all those thousands of little things that make special memories for all of us. The ways in which she welcomed all of Dan’s friends around the kitchen table and taught them table manners and help them get ready for the prom. She also made care packages for him when he was in the service. She made sure there was always well balanced meal on the table each evening. She would spend hours sewing my sister and my Easter and First Communion dresses. She even made my uniform for Villa and my prom and graduation dresses. Holidays were made memorable by the care and preparation of decorating our home and special meals. If being a mother wasn’t enough, she truly excelled and loved being a grandmother. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren were her delight in the later years. I’ve heard it said that God gives grandchildren as a reward for not killing your own kids. Most importantly our mother was a PRAYER. She covered our every need in prayer. Day and night she prayed and one specific prayer was that each of us would marry just the right spouse. God was faithful in hearing and answering her prayers. Just like our parents, each one of us has a wonderful spouse and we are happily married for many years.
Besides the gifts of faith and love, one of our mother’s greatest gifts was GIVING. She was the original re-gifter. We always knew whatever we gave our mother she would give it to someone else as a gift. If she saw a need she wanted to help. Whether a friend, relative our complete stranger, she was the first to organize an outreach for someone in need. We didn’t have a lot of extra money or material possessions growing up but there was enough to go around and to share with others. Mother was always collecting for the Carmelite Sisters. That was her favorite part of any holiday. Our parents were involved in St. James Church and the Carmelite Monastery for over fifty years. They were also involved in the Cursillo Movement and volunteered at both Villa and Prep. In their later years they volunteered with the Benedictine Convent and at Benetwood Apts. where they lived. Our parents’ lives revolved around their faith and their family. This remains a tremendous witness for all of us.
Our mother’s final legacy is truly found in today’s gospel reading: John 14: 1-7. Jesus told his apostles that He had to go to His Father’s house and prepare a place for them. Those were the last words that our dad spoke to our mother before he died. More importantly, when Thomas didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to say, he asked Jesus, “How can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME. IF YOU KNOW ME YOU WILL KNOW MY FATHER AND YOU WILL SEE HIM.”
Our mother KNEW JESUS! She loved him and she knew that HE is the WAY! I was with our mother when she passed away. I saw the beauty of the Lord upon her. She was radiant! As I softly sang the Our Father, she ever so peacefully passed into eternal life. She knew where she was going and she knew the WAY! She was going HOME to be with her Lord and Savior and her beloved, Paul Francis.
Our mother would not want us to put the spot light on her but on Jesus. She would say, as did Jesus’ Mother, Mary, “My soul proclaims the greatness of our Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for HE is mighty and has done great things for me and holy is HIS NAME. His mercy is on those who fear the Lord from generation to generation.”
To God be the glory for the things He has done!