Ruth Howell (1916-2010) Jan’s Eulogy

Thank you all for coming.  My mother had three happy years in Garden Creek Assisted Living, and many of her friends still live here. We decided to hold the service here so they could attend.  I would like to thank Garden Creek for allowing us to be here today.

Emma Ruth Howell was born in Houstonia, Missouri 1916, four years before women got the right to vote.  She told me that her earliest memories were of horses, buggies and carts.  Her great grandfather Reverend John Montgomery was a pioneering Presbyterian minister and her great grandmother Katherine Lee Rennick was descended from Mayflower and Jamestown Lee families.  Her 93 years saw the Depression, WW II, and the advent of computers and cell phones. Just imagine the changes during her lifetime.

She told me that 16 was her lucky number because she was born in 1916 and she was 16 in her heart.  I remember her at her happiest as an energetic, fun loving, creative young mother in Long Beach California.  She helped found Lakewood Presbyterian Church, taught Sunday school and volunteered tirelessly for the local hospital, the PTA and the community. We had all kinds of pets and she turned our backyard into a garden. She always wanted to be “modern.” She enjoyed living in a brand new town, having a shiny Formica kitchen table, a new Chevy with tail fins, and her very own washing machine. She was proud our family was the first on our block to have a television.

She loved her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She took excellent care of us children, her husband Bill, her grandchildren and of herself. She worked out with Jack LaLanne when he was on TV and later at his gym in person. After Bill, our Dad and her husband of 43 years died, Ruth carried on and enjoyed her independence.  She traveled to Japan, Israel, Egypt and Africa.

Even in her old age, she had an active and curious mind and wanted to know all about the news and the latest technology.  She loved the Bible and was fascinated with its history and archeology. She taught us habits of punctuality, honesty, responsibility, thrift, hard work and the importance of walking on “the sunny side of the street.” She valued relationships above all else. She made friends even during the last days of her life, as shown by the presence of her Hospice nurse and her last caregivers here at this service.

It was a rare privilege for me to have spent the last seven years living close to my mother.  We got to know each other as adults and had lots of “sister fun” together. Ever since she died, so many people have been telling me how much she meant to them, how she reached out and lifted their spirits.  I miss her and I know I will miss her every day of my life, but I am thankful that she no longer has to contend with the aches and pains of her last year. I do not believe that her love has died, because we all still feel it in our hearts.  As Emily Dickinson wrote:  “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”

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