Summary: A funeral message about an exceptional woman.
I believe that everyone’s life has a theme. Patterns emerge over the years that are true of us all the time. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out your theme, but with Geneva it’s pretty easy. When facing a challenge or a task or a new direction she was often heard to say, “I can do that.” That’s her life’s theme: “I can do that.”
I’ve known Geneva just about a year and I learned early on that she was a hairdresser by trade. She graduated from Salisbury Beauty College, started her own shop, while raising a couple of boys. That sounded simple and straight forward, but you know there was so much more to this little lady. When I sat down with the family yesterday it made my head spin to hear how many different talents and abilities and interests she had. I don’t know how she could pack so much living into 89 years. But I think all this stemmed from her life’s theme: “I can do that.”
Let me share with you the short list of Geneva’s abilities. She could cook, crochet, quilt, and sew and do all of these with excellence. Ann told me of a time when she and Geneva were shopping and they found some placemats that were beautiful, but too expensive to actually buy. Geneva put her hand over them for a quick measurement and after several days of work was able to duplicate them. During her time living at Kure Beach she knew how to fish from the surf or the pier. She took a flower decorating class and created astonishingly beautiful arrangements. Just drive by her house in the spring or walk inside any time and you’ll see what I mean. Her decorating skills were so great that the house at Kure Beach was dubbed “the little doll house.”
She also had an eye for remodeling. When everyone said that there was no way to build an island in her kitchen, she went ahead and did it anyway. When folks thought an upstairs bathroom was out of the question, she envisioned it and, with the help of a carpenter, she made it happen. “I can do that.” That was her life’s theme.
Geneva’s home remedies will live on in my mind. I’ve learned many of these remedies, but I’m a little hesitant to try some of them out. Apparently, a strip of fatback will removed a shard of glass embedded in the skin. A mixture of vinegar and salt water gargled as hot as you can stand it will cure a sore throat. And if you’ve “got a little hurt, get a little Red Oil.” Geneva didn’t put a whole lot of confidence in doctors or medicine. She figured she could do that. And she did.
The place where Geneva’s life theme shown through brilliantly was in her attitude. You know, the attitude we display is a choice. Geneva, at some point, made the decision to be an eternal optimist, the kind of person who always sees the glass as half full rather than half empty. They call problems challenges and then proceed to overcome them. She extended her optimistic attitude to other people and never spoke negatively about others. What I find most remarkable was something Geneva told Lori. Speaking on events that were out of her control Geneva said, “When things get me down, I put it out of my mind.” There’s that theme again: “I can do that.” Geneva’s life was not a bed of roses. She had some difficult days in some of her relationships. She could have allowed those terrible events to pull her into despair. She could have adopted the attitude of a perpetual victim. Instead, Geneva chose the perspective of hope and an attitude of contentment. That really what optimism is: contentment no matter what situation comes your way.
I have a strong suspicion that her faith had something to do with this. Geneva’s attitude reflected that of the apostle Paul, who in Philippians 4:13 wrote:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul faced terrible adversity, but always came through with contentment and joy. That’s exactly the kind of attitude Geneva displayed. Her faith formed that “I can do it” theme of her life.
She was also quite generous. Kids, grandkids, or friends of kids and grandkids who came to her house could expect to be fed. That’s why so many people in this community who were not blood relatives called her Mamaw. If you walked in her house there was usually a pot of coffee brewing and a pan of biscuits ready. Her door was open all the time. Bobby told me that once when they were visiting Geneva at the beach and they were all sitting around in their pajamas, some random customers just walked in and made themselves at home. That was a common occurrence at Geneva’s house