Jennie Marie Phelps

My mom died on March 10, 2010, just before 5:00AM. She was buried March 12. She would have been 87 on May 8. At her funeral I said the following words:

There’s an old song that starts out “‘M’ is for the many things she taught me.” [Later I found out the line is the first line of the chorus, not the first line of the song, and it goes “‘M’ is for the million things she gave me.” For whatever it’s worth, the song was originally performed by the late Eddy Arnold.] Dad was gone a lot when I was growing up and mom basically raised me by herself. She taught me to ride a bicycle and drive a stick shift. She taught me to play the ukulele, which is good because otherwise our praise band wouldn’t have a guitar player today. She taught me about God and how to pray.

Later I found out some of the things she taught me were wrong, like when the toy soldiers she said were British turned out to be German and when I learned that a car does not go fastest in second gear. But the most important thing she taught me was to love and be loved. That is a lesson I will carry with me though all my life. If I’m lucky, those lessons will live on in me and in our daughter, Monica.

I’ve been around the world, you bet,
but never went to school
Hard knocks are all I seem to get,
perhaps I’ve been a fool;
But still, some educated folks,
supposed to be so swell,
Would fail if they were called upon
a simple word to spell.
Now if you’d like to put me to the test,
There’s one dear name that I can spell the best!
“M” is for the million things she gave me
“O” means only that she’s growing old
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me
“H” is for her heart of purest gold
“E” is for her eyes with love-light shining
“R” means right and right she’ll always be
Put them all together they spell MOTHER,
a word that means the world to me.
When I was but a baby,
long before I learned to walk,
While lying in my cradle,
I would try my best to talk;
It wasn’t long before I spoke
and all the neighbors heard,
My folks were very proud of me
for “Mother” was the word.
Although I’ll never lay a claim to fame,
I’m satisfied that I can spell the name:
“M” is for the mercy she possesses
“O” means that I owe her all I own
“T” is for her tender, sweet caresses
“H” is for her hands that made a home
“E” means ev’rything she’s done to help me
“R” means real and regular, you see
Put them all together they spell MOTHER,
a word that means the world to me.
– Howard Johnson and Theodore Morse

David Phelps