SHE WALKED HUMBLY WITH GOD
A TRIBUTE TO SUSY OOMMEN, MY MOTHER IN LAW, ON HER FIRST DEATH ANNIVERSARY 15/05/2008 Horeb Mar Thoma Church, Puthupally, Kottayam, Kerala
A year has passed since our beloved Mummy left this earth life. Many were the attestations of love, respect and deep sorrow that were offered at the time of her passing. Today is the anniversary of her advent into "the life beyond" and I would offer a tribute to her memory.
Does the passing of Mummy mean gain or loss? In the sorrow of the moment of her parting, we saw only loss. But, we ignored entirely the positive statement, "to die is to gain." We were aware of but one sad fact - vacancy, a void that can never seemingly be filled. A little later, after the sorrow has lost its sharp edge, we are able to take a more just appraisal of the life of Mummy - its acts and motions, its contact with the influence upon family and society; to balance up the account of that life and perceive in a partial way the wonderful legacy that she has left behind.
What can a life here gain permanently for itself and others? There is but one reply. Nothing is lasting except riches that can be hoarded in the soul. St. Paul simplifies the whole matter when he cites the fruit of the spirit as "Love, Joy, and Peace".
I realize today that in Mummy’s passing on, a life filled with beneficent service has simply passed through a gate way to better facilities for a wider service, all of which there or here, as Browning says, "Ranks the Same with God."
One the gladdest poets has written: "This gladens me most, that I enjoyed the heart of the Joy". "The heart of the Joy" in everything was the keynote of Mummy’s life. I spent hours together talking of cabbages and kings and what not. And I understood her and vice versa. She was glad and proud even of her birthday. Why? Simply because she had a birthday. She was glad to have been born-glad to be alive. Think of that attitude of mind in these days when people like me doubt whether the life is worthwhile. She enjoyed her student days. How she loved to recall them, shared them with me every time I spent time with her.
Mummy was a teacher in Nicholson School for a couple of years in her early life. The girls she taught later grew to womanhood, married, had children, grandchildren but the bond between the teacher and her pupils was never broken. I still remember one of them visited Mummy every year on her birthday with a gift and a greeting card made by her.
Loyal though she was to her Christian faith and church, her activities extended beyond it. That peculiar quality of love and helpfulness that stamped her life was for all, as free as are the sun's rays. Children and young people were drawn to her for advice and comfort. No less useful was she in more practical matters. Here was the open door, the open heart, the open hand and one can measure the rainfall more easily than the benefits from this woman.
What is the legacy she has left behind? To me, the rich legacy of her life to us is this: the memory of Mummy, the main spring of whose life was such that the thought of her thrills our hearts with joy.
A memory that stirs the pulse with a desire to feel as she felt, to act as she acted, to know life's secret as she knew it. Shall we not, then, on this anniversary of her advent, count her life as "gain" for us, and for her, continued "gain" as she fares forward in Love and Joy, there, as here?