My grandmother, Louise V. Pitts, passed away earlier this week at age 98. To experience this loss here in New Zealand, truly on the other side of the world, is a different kind of grief all together…strangely quiet, but also strangely peaceful. We’ve been traveling recently, with less access to communication and email, and I find myself coping with this news three days after my family gathered at home for funeral services. Kia kaha.**
Mom B. was very sick at Christmas, and my mother reassured me in a moment of cold feet to even get on the plane that no matter what the next few months would bring, with so much time and expense separating us, Mom B. would still want us to go on this journey. I find now that it’s impossible to express in words just how much this time abroad has meant to Jaromy and myself. Beyond the good work he is accomplishing in his field, beyond the beautiful new places and people we have encountered, beyond all of this we are most thankful for the time we have shared together. Our lives are so much changed for the better. More than anyone else, I know that Mom B. would wish this for us. Kia kaha.
While I continue to feel close to her in spirit, I treasure the memory I have of my last day to be with Mom B. on this earth. The day after Thanksgiving we hardly expected her to go along with the notion of picking out and putting up a Christmas tree in her living room, but suggest it we did. After two hours of discussion with Daddy over the phone, weighing out the pro’s and con’s (and being reassured that we would do all the work–picking it out, bringing it over, putting it up), she not only agreed that a tree would be nice…she wanted to ride over to the tree lot to pick it out herself! Only on rare occasions in the last couple of years have we been able to get Mom B. out of the house for a bit of fun, so this was really a treat. Daddy and I picked her up and met Mother and Jaromy at the tree lot, where she sat contentedly in the front seat while the boys working the lot carried trees to the car for her evaluation. We found “the one” and brought it back to her house, where Daddy suggested that she sit in one of the back bedrooms to avoid the anxiety of the work (and perhaps for him to avoid her “input” in the process). While Mother, Daddy, and Jaromy trimmed the tree, I kept Mom B. company in the back…a few quiet moments just laughing and talking. Best day ever. Kia kaha.
I came across an entry in the guestbook for the obituary online from Lisa M., who cleaned Mom B.’s house, and I think she might just say it best. Thank you, Lisa, for these incredibly meaningful words:
It is difficult to say goodbye to such a sweet lady. Mrs Pitts, you were a treasured friend and blessing to me all the time I knew you. I enjoyed out time together while I cleaned because I knew you felt better about your home when I finished, not because it ever needed it. You shared with me so many wise things about family because family was the focus of your life. I know you will be missed by all of us you left behind, but we have the peace of knowing we’ll see you again. I love you, dear lady. My sympathies to your family.
Whether or not things happen for a reason, it’s such a blessing to see them work out for the best. No regrets…just love for my family from the other side of the world and so thankful for my Mom B., one of my life’s greatest gifts. Kia kaha.
*Me Te Whakaaro Nui Atu, or “with loving thoughts,” in Maori
**Kia kaha, or “encouragement to achieve strength,” in Maori
I happened to notice that my family included in the obituary a note of thanks to Mom B.’s doctor and caregivers. A beautiful gesture that would have been particularly meaningful to my grandmother. While there are many that deserve so much gratitude for the love and care they gave to Mom B., I think that there is one other who deserves particular attention. My parents lived conveniently near Mom B., and my father (and mother, too) spent countless hours catering to her every need…from refilling her birdfeeder, to making multiple trips to multiple grocery stores in one day, to the daily phone calls and deliveries of freshly-made home-cooked meals. Thank you, Daddy. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Louise Vann Beasley Pitts, age 98, called “Mom B” by her family, died Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to noon today at Morrison Funeral Home, Tuscumbia. Her funeral service will follow in the funeral home chapel, with Terry Jones and Sid Fulford officiating. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery, Sheffield.
Mrs. Pitts was a member of Annapolis Avenue Church of Christ. She was a beloved and cherished mother and grandmother.
She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Deborah Vann; husbands, Lester Noel Beasley and Ammon L. Pitts; brothers, Braxton Vann and John Vann; and sisters, Maxine Elkins and Wylodean Dabbs.
She is survived by her son, Lester Noel Beasley Jr. and wife, Marie, of Muscle Shoals; daughter, Betty Lou McKee and husband, Richard, of Pensacola, Fla.; stepdaughter, Dr. Mary Ellen Pitts, of Memphis, Tenn.; grandchildren, James O. Hester Jr. and wife, Mona, of Biloxi, Miss., Jennifer Hester Migues and husband, John, of Pensacola, Fla., Sarah Beasley Kuhl and husband, Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, of Pensacola, Fla., Steven Beasley and wife, Stephanie, of Hamilton; two great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and sister, Jo Nell Colagross, of Muscle Shoals.
Pallbearers are Steven Beasley, James Dabbs, John Migues, Gary Mixon, Derek Pepper and Larry Staten.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her name to Annapolis Avenue Church of Christ.
The family would like to express thanks to Dr. Jack McLendon and staff, Home Instead Senior Care and staff, and to Hospice of North Alabama and staff with special thanks to Charessa and Courtney.
An online guest book is available at morrisonfuneralhomes.com.