This is the eulogy I gave at my mother’s memorial service a few hours ago. I have made some minor edits and added links to the Scripture passages quoted and the video commemorating my mother’s life.
On behalf of my family, I want to thank each of you for joining us today. We are grateful for your presence and for the many comforting messages we have received since our beloved mother went home to be with the Lord on May 5. Thank you.
Writing the eulogy for Lalita Edwards is at once easy and difficult. Easy because of her exemplary character and well-lived life, and difficult because she was my mother and this is yet another reminder that I will not see her again this side of eternity. There’s a reason the Bible describes death as the last enemy.
My mother was the epitome of the virtuous woman depicted in Proverbs 31. She was wise, generous, compassionate, hardworking, and faithful. Above all, she embodied that greatest virtue: love. She loved the Lord, she loved her family (shoutout to the five grandkids), she loved her friends, and she loved the unloved. She went into medicine not to make money or a name for herself but to serve, and she gave it all she had. Many of you who knew her professionally can attest to this.
I could spend the next several hours talking about what I learnt from my mother, but since I only have a few minutes I will focus on what she taught me about my most important relationship, the relationship for which I was born.
The single most important thing Mummy taught me was a love for God and His Word. The abiding memory of my childhood is of her reading her Bible first thing in the morning. For years I didn’t know that the mug at her side contained coffee, not tea, but I always knew that the book in her hand was the Bible. It was the source of her wisdom, comfort, and joy, and I am eternally grateful for her example.
As a child I struggled to read my King James Version. I forget if mentioned this to Mummy, but I came home from school one day to find a brand new Good News Bible lying on my pillow. It was not my birthday or any other occasion, and as I recall I had not been particularly good, but Mummy told me that God had led her to buy the Bible for me. That made it even more special. I cannot remember being so thrilled to receive any book, and I loved receiving books. I outgrew the Good News version long before I entered adulthood, but that Bible fueled my love for Scripture. Many years later, my parents gave me an NIV Study Bible for my thirtieth birthday, which was the best gift they could have given me on that occasion.
Speaking of my love of books, Mummy noticed it early and nurtured it at considerable personal cost. There were many trips to the lending library across town just to satisfy my voracious appetite. When I met up with her in the UK in the summer of 2003, I ransacked bookstores in London and Glasgow. After one such shopping spree, Mummy asked how I would carry all those books back to Los Angeles. Instead of giving her a straight answer, I reminded her of all those childhood trips to the library.
Mummy taught me the importance of prayer early, and I feel blessed to have learnt the Lord’s Prayer at her knees. Over the last several years, as we lived on different sides of the world, we had to keep in touch by phone. We usually ended our calls with prayer, and it brings me great comfort that our last earthly conversation ended the same way. I prayed for her to be made well and the whole time, as she struggled to breathe through the oxygen mask, she kept saying “Amen.” Amen — So be it. It is also the last word of the Bible, the book she taught me to love.
In my last conversation with my father, he shared an astonishing testimony of his faith with me. It comforted me deeply after he passed away in December 2009 and has enriched my own faith ever since. With my mother, it was a lifetime of faith that I received. She grew up with a wise and loving father, and it enabled her to have a childlike faith in God all her life. Even in some of our last phone conversations she would tell me how confident she was in her heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy. And just as the Bible’s most famous Psalm has promised, surely goodness and mercy followed her all the days of her life, and she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
My sisters and I chose June 12 for our mother’s memorial service because it was her birthday. And because it was her birthday, I also chose June 12 as my spiritual birthday.
I accepted Christ as my Savior in June 1974, a few months after our family moved from Lucknow to Pune, but I don’t remember the exact date. People who know me know I like commemorating anniversaries of momentous occasions, and that was the most momentous occasion of all. The decision to surrender oneself to Jesus Christ is the most important decision one can make in this life because it settles the question of the next life.
One day the Holy Spirit gave me the idea to pick the 12th of June as my spiritual birthday in honor of the person who gave me birth, and I have been celebrating it as such ever since. Today is bittersweet for me because even as I celebrate my new birth, for the first time I won’t be able to wish Mummy a happy birthday. But I am sure she is having a party in heaven with the Savior she loved and served and the dear ones who went before her, including my father.
It is possible that there are some present at this memorial service who do not have the assurance of salvation that my mother had, and I want to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to you. Or to use a Facebook term, I want to send you an invite to follow the most exciting person in the universe: Jesus Christ. There is nothing better than knowing that your past is forgiven and your future is secure, and living each moment of the present by faith in the God of the universe and His beloved Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us.
If you want to know more about this please contact me and I will gladly help you. The Bible commands us to honor our father and mother, and I can think of no better way to honor my parents than by passing on the gift of faith they gave me.
The second part of my eulogy is a video commemorating my mother’s life. I apologize in advance if your photo isn’t in it. I had to work with what I had. If you have a photo you’d like to share please send it to me. I am seeking photographs of her ministry as a doctor, especially at Santvana Home, the orphanage she founded in 2005 to serve children infected and affected by HIV AIDS.
Both my parents loved hymns. I can still remember Mummy humming a hymn as she cooked or knitted or sat at her sewing machine. I have used her favorite hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” in this video. I hope it encourages you, and I pray that the Great Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will bless and guide each of you as He did my mother.
(c)2021 Sharon Arpana Edwards. All Rights Reserved.