As many of you know, Jean Shannon (aged 90) passed away peacefully on Monday evening, October 5, 2020. Her son, Mark, wrote this beautiful eulogy for her.
I want to thank you all for coming today to remember Mom and to honor her.
I’m sure I speak for Ruff when I say “Thank you” to Jill for stepping in and taking care of Mom in your own home for the past several months. We appreciate all the things you did for her.
As I thought of Mom’s life and my time with her I remembered some words of wisdom she shared with us over the years, words of instruction and admonishment.
She said things like: “We’re having company tonight so red up the house.”
“When you get out of the shower, comb your hair or it’ll dry like that.”
To put an end to fights between me and my brother, she’d say, “Talk with your mouth, not with your hands.”
I’d like to relate to you some stories I remember about Mom and combine them with words from Scripture. Words that illustrate that Mom lived out her faith in ways that can be examples to all of us.
The first reference from the Bible is from the book of Proverbs. It is there we read these words: “Train up your child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.”
Many years ago on a Saturday night, Mom and Dad were out bowling in the league they belonged to in those days. I know it was a Saturday night, not only because that was their regular bowling night, but because on this particular evening Ruff and I stayed up and watched the entire first movie of the double feature on “Chiller Theater”. Prior to this occasion we had rarely made it to the end of the first movie before our parents came home, leaving us to often wonder how many of those old monster movies ended.
Anyway, on this night, just as the end credits were rolling on the movie, we heard the sound of the electric garage door opening as Mom and Dad pulled in the driveway. We quickly turned off the TV and hustled up the stairs and into bed, congratulating ourselves that they would never know we had stayed up so late.
Then came the following morning.
Mom came up the stairs and woke us up to go to Sunday school and church. I didn’t have much trouble waking up but Ruff woke up and loudly complained about being too tired because we stayed up to watch the whole movie last night.
Can you say “busted”?
You can be sure we were all dressed and ready to go to church in record time that morning.
It was Mom more so I think than Dad that encouraged us to go to church and learn the early Bible lessons. She and Dad sat with all three of us in the same pew on many a Sunday morning.
And that early encouragement served us well. Today all three of us are dedicated Christians who faithfully attend one of three different churches; a couple of us have also served as deacons and elders, too.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.”
Two stories I remember about Mom make me think of these words from the letter to the Hebrews;
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The first story also happened many years ago, this time on a Monday night. I know this because once each month on a Monday night Mom and her friends played cards together at one another’s houses.
On this occasion, Mom had invited her mother to eat dinner with us. This was not uncommon. Mom made it a habit to include both sets of grandparents in our lives as kids. They frequently came over for dinner throughout the course of the year.
Any way, on this night, the meal was over and Mom and Grandma were doing dishes together in the kitchen. Dad was off in another room doing a home repair job with tools laid all over the floor. Suddenly the doorbell rang, and I went to answer it.
There stood a woman named Jean Rapp, a member of Mom’s card club. She was there because that night was Kope’s turn to host the party. Jean usually arrived first on these occasions because she wanted to have the convenience of parking in our driveway.
Mom had completely forgotten her hosting duties for the night. Now any one of us might have said “Oh no, I’m sorry, I completely forgot about card club. We’ll have to reschedule for next week instead.” Not my mother! Card club dates might as well have been etched in stone. They were immovable once made on the calendar.
Mom put a plan together with all the speed and strategy of a battlefield commander. She quickly told Dad to put his tools away and take Grandma home. And on the way back to our house he was to stop at the bakery and pick up some day-old pastries that she could serve as a dessert.
The three of us kids ran around putting up card tables, setting out folding chairs, and “redding” up the living room. One by one the women gathered together and that night they all played cards again.
As I say, anyone of us might have turned the guests away. Instead Mom pulled off a minor miracle and we had a funny story to tell for years.
Now there were no angels that I’m aware of among the guests that night. But on this next occasion, I’m not so sure.
One night some time after Dad had died Bob Downs, our former pastor called Mom. There was a group of missionaries visiting our congregation from Malawi in Africa, and the person that had been scheduled to host a dinner for them had to cancel the plans to do so. Bob asked Mom if she could fill in and provide a meal for them and for other members of the church.
Mom readily agreed, even though this was not the usual kind of party that took place in our home.
So she made one of our favorite dishes, lasagna, and welcomed a few African people to our table. They all came in bearing gifts from Malawi and thanking Mom profusely for her generosity. One of the members of our church was a man named Ralph Chasey and he and his wife Pat were there that evening.
Seated around the table our out-of-town visitors eagerly talked about Malawi and avidly encouraged us to visit them in Africa one day. One woman sitting next to Ralph must have been especially persuasive because within a year or so Ralph joined a team from Pittsburgh that went to Malawi to serve as missionaries for a few weeks. This was so out of character for him that many people in the church remarked about his decision to go.
So, once again, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The last story I have for you today about Mom took place shortly before the death of her mother. Toward the end of her life Grandma was confined to her bed in her apartment in Bellevue. One day I went with Mom when she visited Grandma. Seeing her mother’s condition, and her need, she asked Grandma if she wanted her feet washed. Grandma said “Yes” and Mom did that for her mother.
Watching Mom at this time, I was reminded of the time in John’s Gospel when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. And I was struck by the fact that in some way that I’m sure Mom probably didn’t even realize, she was following His example.
Listen to these words from Scripture: After He had washed the feet of His disciples Jesus said to them: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
As we think of Mom in the days ahead, and consider her life with us, may the Lord grant all of us the grace and the wisdom to follow her examples. Amen.