Honoring My Mother
Dorothea Ethel Ellison
May 2, 1931 – April 27, 2012
by Matthew Ellison

My precious mother flew to Jesus on Friday, April 27th …I was honored to be holding her hand as she bid farewell to this world.

My family did not expect her to live past January, but if you knew my mom, you knew she was a fighter.  When she was diagnosed with Pick’s disease seven years ago, we were told that she would not live more than 6 months.  Her journey on earth has finally ended…but her best days are before her.

A eulogy is simply a writing or speech in praise of someone who has died.  The purpose is to bestow honor on those who have passed from this life.  How do I best honor my mother?  What do I say?  Well it seems to me that the highest honor I could give her today would be to honor the one that she loved the most – Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior.

Some of my most vivid memories of childhood are of my mom kneeling beside the bunk bed my brother and I shared telling us of God’s love for us.  She kept a Big Chief tablet in a bookshelf near our bed that she had filled with Scriptures she knew we needed to store in our hearts and minds.  Nearly every night she would open the tablet and speak God’s Word over us and encourage us to stockpile His words in our memory.

The first Scripture I ever memorized was 1 John 4:19, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”  Such a simple passage, so short, and yet so rich with truth and power. 

My mom taught me early on that I was a sinner (which wasn’t too difficult) and though she was the godliest person I have ever known she told me through tears on several occasions that she too was a sinner — a sinner in desperate need of God’s mercy.  She explained to me that I could not love God as He deserves to be loved unless and until I first received His love for me in Jesus Christ — that only through the cross of Christ could I be forgiven of my sin debt — that through forgiveness He would make me into the type of person I ought to be — that I could love God and others but not because of something innate, something inside of me — but because of something that happened outside of me, without any help from me, before I was even born, namely the cross.

After helping me memorize 1 John 4:19 she moved to Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”  After she quoted this she would say, “Matthew, Christ is knocking on the door of your heart, you must open the door and let Him in.”

It wasn’t until 1993 that the door of my heart was opened to Christ – but I now know that the Scriptures that my mom supplanted were the keys that God used to finally open the lock.

Nearly 4 months ago, my mother’s hospice nurse encouraged us to contact family and that we should visit her as soon as possible. My brother flew in from Denver and on Saturday night my 4 sisters, my bride, my brother and my dad all gathered around my mom and shared a time of great sorrow and joy. We shared our favorite memories, read short stories my mom had written, and planned her memorial.  Amazingly, perhaps miraculously, that night my mother had some of her most lucid moments than she had in many days. She seemed to recognize us. I quoted to her the Scripture that she used to speak over me as a child at my bedside, I John 4:19. I said, “We love, because He first…” I paused, and with gargled voice she sputtered out the rest,”…loved us.”

Today my mom is still speaking, though her spirit has left her broken body.  She still speaks, because her message was the Word of God.

 Her message?

“God loves you — He stands at the door of your heart and knocks; but you must open to Him.”  The promise is, “If any man will open unto Me, I will come in and sup with him.”  “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.  Not upon all who heard was the privilege conferred, for many, when they heard, did not believe.   Alas, they provoked Him, and so they perished in their sins. But those who hail Jesus as a friend, salute Him as an honoured guest, sit at His feet, and hang on His lips, find how He lights every chamber of their soul with joy, satisfies every craving of their better nature, and enriches them with all the endowments of adopted children.”

So how do you honor my mom today? You, listen to the One she loved, He is knocking…

Mom I will see you again, but not yet…not yet.