Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Eulogy for Betty Lou Scriven"

November 15th, 2010

82 years ago, my mother, Betty Lou Scriven, was born on February 20th, 1928, to Joseph and Elizabeth Shea, in Drumheller, south central Alberta, Canada. Apparently, my grandparents were Canadian citizens and while residing in Shelby, Montana, made the wise financial decision to birth their two babies in Canada where the hospital charges were only $1.00 per day. At both Don and Betty Lou’s birth, the newly expanded family remained with my Grandmother’s parents, Charles and Louise Faulkner in Drumheller. 25 days after she was born, my Mom, being named after her Mother and Grandmother, was baptized as Louise Elizabeth Shea at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

Mom grew up in Shelby, Montana, with her older brother Don and younger sister Patty Jo. She is preceded in death by her mother and father, her brother Don Shea, and, of course, the love of her life, my Dad, Gilbert Alexander Scriven, who went to be with Jesus 5 years ago on July 23rd, 2005. Mom joined Dad in heaven on Wednesday, November 3rd, nearly two weeks ago. She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, my aunt and uncle Pete and Patty Jo King, three children, Barbara, Rick, and myself, Dave, our wonderful spouses, Charles, Holly, and Adonica, 13 precious grandchildren ranging from ages 8 to 31, Maddie, Ellie, Henry, Abbey, Sam, Elizabeth, Rachel, Robert, Stanford, Julia, Eric, Emily, and Christina, 3 fantastic grandsons-in-law, and an equally fantastic granddaughter-in-law, and one very cool little great grandson.

Mom graduated from Shelby High School on May 23rd, 1946, completed one year of college in Missoula, Montana and trained to be an x-ray technician in Great Falls where she met my Dad. On December 28th, 1950, she and Dad said “I Do” and “they did” for the next 55 years, redefining all along the way, the real meaning of “wedded bliss”. Their marriage proves that the lofty and universal themes of loyalty, fidelity, sacrifice, commitment, faith, kindness, and lasting singular love still work today. My dad used to say his life began the day he met my mom. As far as he was concerned, the sun rose and set on her head. She was the center of his universe and we three kids learned at an early age to respect and love our dear mother… or else. My dad modeled to us many important character traits like, how to offer a firm handshake to another man, how to open the door for a woman, how to keep our word, how to return what we borrowed in better condition than we got it, and how to value money, work hard, and responsibility. Tops on his list of expectations, coupled with fairly serious consequences for the failure to perform, was how to demonstrate respect at all times for the woman he loved, our Mother. I might be impolite or bratty to my Mom privately, but I would never dare behave poorly to Mom in Dad’s presence.

Of course, my Mother was not hard to love and respect. She was the nicest, kindest, most sincere, forgiving, truthful, and loving person I’ve ever met. My Dad and we three kids were eternally blessed to have her for the few years we did. She was never judgmental in any way. The worst word I ever heard her call anyone was “pill” and, believe me, that person deserved much worse. She was super approachable, easy to be around, and always made her guests feel comfortable, warm, and welcome. You could be the most unlikeable creep on earth but you would still feel sincerely loved and instantly accepted by my Mother.

Mom was humble. She was an unbelievable cook but most dinners she made were served up with an apology. She was sorry for too much or too little salt, limp asparagus, or how cold the potatoes were. Trust me, no matter what she said, the food was always great.

Mom was fair. No kid got any more or less than another. For years, Rick and I got exactly the same thing for Christmas. As we approached adolescence, our diverse interests made it difficult for our poor Mother to balance our gifts to the penny, but she tried. Rick and I, little hoodlums that we were, waited until Mom and Dad left for a Holiday Party, then we carefully opened our gifts, made trades, and re-wrapped. Remember, the night Rick, when we opened the “super balls” Patty Jo sent us from America, moved the furniture, and played with them on the hardwood floors before the folks returned? I don’t believe she did, but she should have loved Barbie best. Who would have blamed her?

Mom always tried to make things special for us kids at great personal sacrifice to herself. She entertained our weird friends, scary pets, and raunchy music. Mom never nagged or raised her voice. She endured snakes, tarantulas, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, lizards, turtles, skunks, and goats, all with Jimi Hendrix records and our guitars blaring in the background. What a Mom! What a woman!

When Dad went to Viet Nam, she let me be the man of the house, which came with tremendous responsibilities, like the time we mistook mice scrambling in the attic for an after-hours intruder. I woke up Mom and the kids, and armed with a baseball bat and our Peke-a-poo, Barney, the four of us searched every room. Rick was behind me with his pellet gun. Behind him was Mom, followed by Barbara. It must have been a comical sight.

Mom’s home was always meticulously clean. My mother was highly organized, ran the household with high attention to detail, and made my Dad proud and happy to be married to such a jewel of a woman. Any faults you see in me, and there are plenty, are mine and mine alone. Any virtue you find in me, my brother and sister, our beautiful children, and extended families, you may credit to my Mother, Betty Lou.

Together, Mom and Dad founded S.O.S. (Serving Our Savior) which has served well over 150,000 meals to homeless people in downtown Seattle for nearly 31 years. Mom’s strong network of friends, established over several decades as a Seattleite and Bothellonian, include many at St. Brendan’s Parish and Wandering Creek Homes Association where Mom lived for the past 13 years. My Dad believed in taking care of his family, beginning with Mom. Besides caring for her financially in her golden years and well beyond his death, Dad wisely invested emotionally in the lives of other people. I happen to know that this was, in part, to provide some assurance that, after he was gone, people would in turn be there for my Mom when she needed them. And “be there” they were. The strategy worked. You in attendance today are living proof of what the Bible says: “You reap what you sow”. Mom and Dad scattered the seeds of friendship it returned back to them when they needed it the most. They passed it out in slices and it came back in loaves. I speak for my brother Rick and my sister Barbara when I say to each one of you, my Mother’s friends… thank you for being there for my Mother. She loved each of you so very much. Thank you for loving her back. You made her last years, some of her very best.

Our family made big plans to be together with “grandma” at her home for Thanksgiving. When, however, Rick, Barbara, and I learned that Mom wanted to stop chemotherapy and begin hospice, each one of us independently gave Mom permission to let go if that was what she wanted. We wept with our Mother and began, what turned out to be, a short journey to the end. Saint Peter and Saint Patty Jo immediately flew to Wandering Creek and orchestrated an amazing end of life experience which included a final episode of Mom’s favorite program, “Dancing with the Stars”. Mom mostly dozed during the show, which is noteworthy when you consider the hooting and hollering by wild women like Bode, Donna, Mary, and Patty Jo. Together with the wonderful Evergreen Hospice staff, we said our good-byes, kissed and embraced our Mother, thanked her for job so very, very well done, administered medication, and generally made her final hours comfortable and easy. Her final days of life were calm and peaceful. At the very end, I knelt by her bedside and whispered in her ear, “Go be with Jesus. Go be with Dad. Oh Jesus, please, take her home. Receive my Mother into heaven.” In that very instant, at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, she simply stopped breathing and died peacefully in her home. Mom did not suffer. She had no pain or discomfort when she made her glorious transition into the presence of God.

Mom spent 58 years taking care of me and my dear brother and sister. For a few moments in history, we were granted the Divine privilege of caring for our Mother. Together with some of the finest people on earth, Patty Jo, Pete, and many of you, Rick, Barbara, and I said good-bye to the most wonderful person we have ever known, our Mother, Betty Lou Scriven.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Dad. Your delivery at the funeral was great too. Thanks for sharing your memories with us!