My sister, Sherry Carpenter Leavell, delivered this eulogy at my mom's memorial service this morning. It was not so much a eulogy as it was a tribute to my father, Jack Carpenter. I thought you, my readers, might like to read it. I wish you could have heard it. I was so proud of my sister, and of the others that spoke/sang/read at the memorial service: sister Kathy Carpenter Brooks and nieces Callie Brooks Picardo, Amy Leavell Cooper, and Belle Ensor.
Memories of a Marriage
Over 60 years ago, on June 19, 1953, at the youthful age of 20 and 22, my parents Jack and Diane were married. My Dad on that hot June day, home on a weekend leave from serving in the army at Fort Knox, said the following words: “I, Jack, take you Diane, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.”
It is with much admiration that their four daughters, 11 grandchildren, and many other family members and wonderful friends, have witnessed this couple as they so beautifully kept their wedding vows in sickness and in health, till death has caused them to be apart for a time.
Over 12 years ago, my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. The first few years, my parents, who were affectionately called by so many of us, Gramme and Honey, were able to continue their routine of wintering in Destin, Florida, hosting our large family for Christmas night, eating dinner out most nights, Daddy playing lots of golf, and Mom happily entertaining herself at home. Slowly over the past handful of years as Mom's memory loss escalated, their lives began to change and narrow.
Almost four years ago, my Dad had a hip replacement and was in the hospital for a few days and then went to Oaklawn for rehab. Mom was so distraught without Honey that her confusion greatly increased and made it impossible and unsafe for her to remain at home, even with us taking turns staying with her. We moved her to The Episcopal Church Home for her to settle in and begin a life apart from Honey. In our minds, it was time and we thought Dad would enjoy the freedom with less responsibility.
Not so. Honey recovered from his hip surgery and missed her so much that on Mother's Day of 2010, he checked her out of the home and was determined he could care for Mom all by himself. He cooked for her, he cleaned the house, he took care of their large yard, he bathed her, dressed her and tended to her every need. I am convinced that the reason Mom lived as long as she did is because she was so well loved and cared for by Dad.
In God's Word, John 15:13 tells us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." That is a sacrificial love, an unconditional selfless love and that is what we have all been so beautifully privileged to witness these past 12 years. What is the secret to their love? You may be asking yourself if you were put in a similar situation, could you go the distance and love until death do us part? I believe the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 4:12, a cord of three strand is not easily broken. In this case, there is the husband, the wife and the Lord is the third strand.
My Mom and Dad love one another and they also love Jesus. Daddy kneels by his bed every night and prays long prayers. Mom use to laugh because on occasion she says Daddy would be so worn out that he would fall asleep kneeling on the hardwood floors beside their bed. I believe it was the Lord who gave my Dad the perseverance, the patience and the tenderness that Mom's disease has required all these years.
It was a true love story and one that has changed me. I am proud of my Dad for the care and love he gave to our Mom. There was no greater legacy or gift he could have given to us girls than to care for our Mom in this way. So thank you Dad. I pray you will be abundantly blessed all your days and we look forward to making new memories with you.