Friday, January 30, 2009

Mom ( Jan 1921- Jan 30, 2009 )

It is hard to imagine two people less alike in birth, experience, time, place, heritage and family than my mother, Renee and the General of the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 to 1865, Robert E Lee. But the central cores of their lives exhibit an identical thrust, and the identical devotion.

Robert Lee was the son of a profligate, speculating, gambling father, and a mother in need of his help after his father’s death a thousand miles from his family, husband of an invalided wife, father to children who died young, and wounded in war he said:

“Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”

Renee , child in a very challenged family, sister to a sibling who died at 29, wife of a man who died a young 48, leaving a very young daughter, and a son in college, and faced abruptly with the challenges that meant - I have no doubt that at any event or time in the life of my mother she was less than all that such a man as Lee aspired to be, or that she achieved the pinnacle he set at every challenge, and at every turn.

Placing herself thru school as a working widow after his death, selecting a career path which gave her a chance at security and time at home, selling her home so a young daughter could be cared for while she worked -there was never a word expressed that I ever heard about what she wanted other than to follow and fulfill as Goethe said, “What the day demands”.

Daniel Webster said: “A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed, or duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. “

She never expected a reward for walking this razor’s edge. She never asked for one. She never looked for one. It was never that there was no alternative way to live; it was that not to fulfill her duty as she saw it was an unimaginable thing.

We cannot know if she was satisfied that she walked this path, only that now WE can see, from the outside, no matter what was done, she was successful in this pursuit of duty.

If one can lead by example, then so well lead, we can hardly achieve more than she achieved, or give more to better purpose.

And in this category we find her among the best ..

Jefferson said: “Only aim to do your duty and mankind will give you credit where you fail. “

If my mother failed to do her duty, it’s a moment I don’t know about.

Duty is a power which rises with us in the morning, and goes to rest with us at night. It is coextensive with the action of our intelligence. It is the shadow which cleaves to us, go where we will, and which only leaves us when we leave the light of life.
- Rt. Hon. William Ewart Gladstone , four time Prime Minister of Britain

That was the life and achievement she sought and found, and fulfilled.

She did her duty every moment, and bore that burden as the natural way of living, and if she complained it was known only in her heart.

She left behind in her family, gratitude and love, for her being


Unknown said...


My condolences on your loss.

Your eulogy using the word duty is a beautiful one.

Culturist John

Pastorius said...

God Bless you and your family in this time. May her love and wisdom live on in you and yours, and may God reward her richly with His presence.

Anonymous said...


You have my deepest condolences. I wish you and your family all the best during this difficult time. Your mother sounds like she was an incredible woman who lived a very fulfilling life.

Anonymous said...

Epaminondas, my condolences.

The_Editrix said...

My sincere condolences and thank you for that great obituary.


Anonymous said...


I am so sorry for your loss. To anyone with an elderly and much loved mother, such news always makes the heart clench. Through your tribute we now all know what a fine woman she was.


heroyalwhyness said...

She must have been a wonderful inspiration to give you the strength for such a tribute.
My deepest condolences to you and yours.

midnight rider said...

Condolences, Epa. May the Angels speed your mother to her reward and watch over you and your family now.