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A Shout From The Attic: Eulogy For Ma

Ronnie Bray delivered the following eulogy at his mother's funeral earlier this year.

Eulogy for Ma

Delivered at her funeral at Birchencliffe LDS Church
20 March 2007

My mother, Louie Bennett Bray Scott Knowles, was born on the 20th May 1915 to Harold Bennett and Margaret Ann Myers Bennett at Uttoxeter in Staffordshire. Her father was from Derby, and her mother from Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Louie had one sister, Nora, who died too early from cancer. Nora’s eldest daughter, Shirley, has been a constant visitor to Louie during her long and often lonely old age.

Now, Louie has been called home after a long and varied life in which she has often travelled a hard road. That which gave her most comfort was the love that she was blessed to receive from her many children.

I will not paint a full picture of Louie’s life, principally because I cannot. I saw her through my eyes, and others saw her through theirs, so you will understand if I omit some things that you consider essential. I will tell what I know.

I know that she was not perfect, but whatever her shortcomings, I now that she, like all of us, did her best to discharge the duties that life laid on her shoulders.

Her influence has played a part in so many lives. She was a troop Captain in the Girl Guides, a leader – Brown Owl – in the Brownies, a wise and helpful neighbour, a devoted mother, stepmother, fostering mother, and a loyal friend.

When I was younger I selfishly thought that she should have been different, done things differently, and imposed different values. As I have grown older I have come to understand her better and to acknowledge the overwhelming influences that often bore down on her in her earlier years.

She was the child of a broken home, and did not have a good family modelled to her in her impressionable years. Her mother and father lived apart together since she was a very young child, and the love that parent should demonstrate for each other to their children was not present.

By the time she was nineteen she had two children of her own and the demands of motherhood claimed her while she was still herself really a child.

My own father, George Frederick Bray subjected her and René to violent abuse that led to her divorcing him.

She married Arthur’s father, Tommy Scott, and during this marriage gave a home to Brian Manton who needed a place to be. Tommy died when she was still a relatively young woman.

Louie and Ernest Knowles had been sweethearts at school and found each other again when they were both widowed. Their love bloomed again and Louie became stepmother to Ernest’s seven children, whose mother had died when they were very young. They were three sets of twins and a singleton, David, Patrick, Stephen, Helen, Mary, Graham, and Sheila.

When Mary was tragically murdered, she and Ernest gave a home to Mary’s young son, David Battye, who changed his name to Knowles.

Sadly, not all of them can be with us today as we say our farewells, but we remember them through our grief.

In her old age, nothing brought more joy to Louie than visits from her many children. Her joy was increased when they brought their children and babies to her. The lower the light of her life burned, the brighter shone her love for her family.

Louie was a woman of strong opinions who did not shrink from sharing them, often very loudly. But she loved with the same fierce passion and had an undying need to be loved.

Now she is gone from us, but she has not disappeared into annihilation’s wasteland never top be seen or known no more. She is gone to a better place, a brighter land. Henry Can Dyke writes about the separation of death in his Parable of Immortality:

“I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, ‘There she goes! She is gone!’

Gone where? Gone from my sight … that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says ‘There she goes!’ there are other eyes watching her coming and their voices are ready to take up the glad shouts, ‘Here she comes!’

Like Louie we shall all die. But this is not the end of our being. We had an existence before we came here as children of God, our Father, in heaven, and we continue that existence when we leave here. Our eternal spirit lives on, and we retain our individuality, identity, and personality.

Louie’s crippled legs are now freed from the arthritis that locked them for so many years, and she is able to move freely and without pain. Her frailty has been overcome, and the yonderly look, in her old eyes is replaced with the brightness they had when she was a little child.

Later this afternoon, Louie’s mortal remains will be returned to the elements of the earth from which they came, and her spirit goes to be with God. As the Bible tell us:

Then shall the dust return to the dust,
And the spirit unto God who gave it.

Every man and woman born into the world will die. It matters not who he is, nor where he is, nor whether his birth be among the rich and the noble, or among the lowly and poor in the world, his days are numbered with the Lord, and in due time he will reach the end.

We should think of this. Not that we should go about with heavy hearts or with downcast countenances. Not at all. I rejoice that we are born to live, to die, and to live again. I thank God for this understanding. It gives me joy and peace that the world cannot give, neither can the world take it away. God has revealed this to me in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I know it to be true.

Just as Jesus was resurrected, so shall we all rise from the dead. Of that I am sure. Job bore bold witness to the reality of the resurrection.

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Millions have received this testimony and can witness to God and testify from their hearts that they know these things. Louie will rise in the resurrection clothed in immortality. We all shall, for we are promised that ‘as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’

When we are made alive, when we are resurrected, we will know as we are known. Old associations will be renewed; lost friends found again, and our loved one who have gone on ahead will rush to embrace us in joyful reunions.

I pray that God our Father in heaven will receive Louie with kindness, love, and mercy, and that he will bless and comfort us in our bereavement that our hearts may not faint, but that we may be buoyed up in the hope of the glorious resurrection awaiting us when we and our loved ones will be reunited in the life and light which will never perish or again grown dim.

With the poet we can say:

We have been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;

‘Tis hard to part from loved ones dear,
Perhaps ‘twil cost a sigh, a tear;-

Then steal away with little warning,
Choose thine own time.

Yet, say not ‘Goodnight,’ but in some brighter clime
Bid me ‘Good morning!’

We hear the Apostle John who recorded the ringing testimony of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ tell of what God will do at the end of our days when He will our sorrow into joy:

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.

Jesus Christ, having conquered Death, burst the barriers of the tomb and ascended with his body triumphant to the right hand of God. He has accomplished the purpose that God had decreed from before the foundation of the world ‘and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.’

Hence we, through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, are placed in positions to be adopted sons and daughters of God, having legitimate rights to our Father in heaven’s blessings, and to possess the gift of the Holy Ghost. Saint Paul says that ‘He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.’ [Romans 8.11]

Thus, because Jesus vanquished death, so Louie will rise again, and so will we. As he overcame, so will Louie, and so may we. And, if we are faithful, we will sit with him upon his throne, as he has overcome and sat down upon his Father’s throne.

Louie is not lost. We shall speak of her often. We shall remember her in good times and in bad times.

I thank God that she gave me life.

She will continue to live in our memories, but just as surely, she is living in the heavens, and when it is our time to leave this vale of tears that we call life, we shall see Louie again in the realms of glory.

I leave you my solemn witness that Louie is not lost. She is safely held in the everlasting arms of God. Of this I am sure, and so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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