After consulting with family members, I presented the following eulogy at my dear mother-in-law's funeral on February 7, 2011.
Elva Wolfanger was an amazing woman. Were she alive, she would surely dispute this statement. You see, my mother-in-law was not only humble, she was a woman who really did not know her own worth. I doubt she ever realized how many lives she touched in a positive way in her 96 years.
Most of you here, today, know many things about Mom. We, her family, want to share some of the many things we know about her.
Elva Wolfanger was a woman of honor. In her 50 plus years of marriage, she honored her husband and her marriage vows.
She honored her mother with whom she and her family shared their home, and when her mother-in-law was no longer able to care for herself, she welcomed and cared for her.
She was a woman of kindness. Whenever her name is mentioned to friends and acquaintances, people remark on her kindness to others. While most of us would close the door on salesmen and those prosletizing their religious beliefs, not Mom. She would invite them in and listen kindly to their spiel, not wanting to hurt their feelings. It never surprised me to find a Watchtower lying on her coffee table. Not that she read it, she just couldn't be unkind.
A loving mother, Elva Wolfanger had high expectations for her sons. She taught them manners, responsibility, respect for others. There were many things she didn't tolerate; disrespect for elders, use of bad language. Yesterday Laverne told me that although he doesn't remember the circumstances, he still remembers the tast of the Ivory soap that followed his use of bad language.
Her sense of discipline sometimes abandoned her. In the case of her youngest son, my husband, and his buddy wrestling on the bed. As the bed crashed to the floor, mom was up the stairs brandishing her brand new fly swatter with a plastic fly fastened to one side. As she began hitting the ill-behaved boys (you were allowed to discipline your neighbors children in those days), the fly swatter broke apart sending the fly....flying. I guess the absurdity of this hit Mom at that moment because, as Jim remembers, she collapsed onto the broken bed laughing with the two offending young men.
She loved her chldren. She was able to blend her love, kindness and honor with discipline, raising three sons. As she modeled these traits for her boys, she saw them grow to adulthood to not only honor and respect her, but to show love and respect for their own wives and others in their lives. This is evidenced by the loving and respectful way that Dale and Carolyn have cared for her in these last years.
Grandma Wolfanger adored her grandchildren. She did all in her power to make them know how special they were. She derived such joy from spending time with them.
A face book post fromher granddaughter, Paige - "Missing my grandma Elva today; who made rock babies with us, and was the fastest triple solitaire hand this side of the rockies, and believed that someday a UFO would land in her back yard and treated her grandchildren like they were gold, and who returned to her creator yesterday.
From her granddaughter Gretchen Wise -"Dear Grandma, Thanks for letting me fill every inch of your house with wildflowers, for letting us fly gliders off your back porch. Thanks for saving the Star for us to read (my first trashy magazine). Thanks for the rock babies and the hand made Barbie clothes. I'm sure that you are making whoopie pies with the angels. I love you so. Be at peace."
Her joy in parenting and grandparenting continued in these last years through the birth of her great grandchildren. Their cards, visits and entertaining with singing and playing their musical instruments brought her great joy in her last years.
From her Tennessee great granddaughters: "Great Grandma, I will play my flute for you. I will play the piano for you. And I will sing for you. You will always be in our hearts. We love you."
As a mother-in-law, Elva was a woman of wisdom. One of the many wise and wonderful things she taught her sons was to never, ever compare their wives' cooking to hers. I remember so distinctly the day, early in our marriage, when I made fried pork chops and Jim said, "Where is the gravy?" My answer was that you don't make gravy from fried pork chops drippings...You know where this is going, right? His answer, "My mom does." didn't set well with me. And the next time we went to Austin, I paid him back by tattling to his mother. I don't have any idea exactly what she said to him, but suffice it to say, he never compared my cooking to hers again.
Mom was a wonderful cook and she always tried to make our favorite foods. In fact, if you even so much as mentioned that you liked something, you might expect to have it every time you came to visit. I remember Derek commenting that he liked her cherry pie. From that time on, there was always cherry pie for Derek.
She was a woman of hospitality. Whether hosting her card club or the Ladies Aid, out of town relatives, or friends ofher children, she was gracious and welcoming to everyone who was a guest in her home.
On holidays, she invited not only us, her children, but our families also. If you had happened upon one of our celebrations, you wouldn't be able to distinguish who belonged to who. We were a family and that's the way Mom wanted it.
As you can see, Mom was many things, but most of all, she was a woman of faith. She lived a life of quiet trust in God. If God said it, she believed it. She needed no proof. God's presence was so obvious in her life. She didn't stand on street corners telling of her faith, she didn't pray in public, she didn't speak or preach to large crowds, but to know her was to see the beauty of a life rooted in God's love.
I'll leave you today with these words from her youngest great grandchild, three year old Wyatt. "Dear God, bless great grandmother, keep her safe and warm and happy."