When I decided to speak at my daughter’s service, when I went to bed the night before, I had no idea what I was going to say. I prayed that the words would come and boy did they! At 3 a.m., I sat straight up in bed. I startled John and told him I had to go to the computer to write down the thoughts that were pouring into my mind. They were coming so quickly, that I was typing phrases. The words that follow are what I finished and walked up to the microphone and delivered. I was to speak after Jeff Herro, Elizabeth’s Dad. I prayed that Jesus would give me the words to share their story, to glorify him and others to see him, and to express in a few minutes the life of my daughter and grandsons. And so, I walked up to the steps with my typed notes, Elizabeth’s copy of Grace Based Parenting, and my last Mother’s Day card that I would ever receive from Elizabeth. Below is the copy of my eulogy that I typed up and spoke from. I have copied it as it was one year ago, so please excuse any typos or grammar issues.
I remember before I started that I told the audience and specifically her Sephora family, that Elizabeth would be telling all of us that our faces and make-up were a “hot mess”. Which in turn got some chuckles. And then I began:
I’m not sure how you compress a life as big and full as Elizabeth in just a few minutes. I hope I get to spend the rest of my life hearing wonderful stories from you all about my daughter and my grandsons Fischer and Benjamin and how they touched your life. So, I’m going to try to share some things that I knew to be true about my daughter and appreciate your indulgence.
Elizabeth Anne Herro was born in Austin Texas at Seton Medical Center on 2/27/1987 the youngest of three daughters….all 8 lbs and 14.5 ounces. She had one dimple…..just like Ben. She had a birthmark on her thigh that was in the shape of a heart. She always told people that was where God kissed her. She had such joy as a child, much like Ben and Fischer. As the baby of the Herro family, she loved being the center of attention. She entered a room and within a minute everyone was aware of her presence. And as many of you know, she had the most amazing blue eyes. Strangers would come up to me and comment on her beautiful eyes. Her Nana Herro called them “pools of blue”.
I was blessed that Lizz and I talked almost everyday. It was usually very early. You see, in the Dowdy household, mayhem started very early. Usually by 6 a.m. Her thought was if she was up, she thought everyone else should be. We talked about the mundane things like potty training to Fischer’s amazing spirit. Those almost daily conversations would abruptly end with something like: Fischer STOP! Ben….STOP! Mom, I gotta go! Talk to you later!
She recently shared with me that some people really “got” Fischer. To those that embraced Fischer’s spirit, they received an amazing blessing. One person that “got” Fischer, was his Lolly……Lizz’s sister, Lauren. She was Lolly to Fischer and Ben. She was their partner in crime and they all reveled in her playfulness.
I found out very quickly with my grandsons, that God writes on their heart to be warriors, to be brave, courageous, and fearless. Elizabeth understood that importance and fostered that. They both loved super heroes. Spider Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk. I am so thrilled that they are spending eternity with the true super hero of all time, our Lord, Jesus.
Samuel taught Fischer at a very young age the importance of always watching out for your baby brother. Fischer would always introduce people to Ben and declare: This is Ben and he is my brother. This was something that Sam wanted to model from his relationship with his brother Daniel. Fischer was Ben’s bubba.
Benjamin Samuel was the cuddle bug. Shy at first, huge smile, dimple, and those pools of blue eyes. May I always remember their laughter and Ben’s shrieks of joy for the rest of my days.
Hayes William Dowdy was already very loved and special. Her early pregnancy had several scares. But the amazing Dowdy that was inside would also be a warrior and was due to come into the world early January 2013.
Lizz recently made a post on Facebook about a book that she had read 5 or 6 times. John and I heard Dr. Tim Kimmel speak about Grace Based Parenting and gave her a copy of the book. As I thumbed through the worn copy of her book, I wanted to share some of what she loved about the book. The guiding principles were the needs of our children to have a secure love, significant purpose and a strong hope. It spoke about having a home of honor. Homes of honor to see the other person’s time, their gifts, their uniqueness and their dreams as gifts to be cherished. The book spoke of instilling a sense of significant purpose. And to be concerned about the hearts of your children and not the exterior. To honor Lizz and the boys, if you are raising young children and would like to raise your children in a grace centered home, Sam, John and I would like to give you a book to help you on that journey. Grace Based Parenting books are available on a table when you leave the service.
She commented to me several times how much the movie Courageous touched her and Sam. She told me that she wanted brave and courageous men, fearless men, that loved God. If you walk in Ben and Fischer’s play room there are small chalkboards behind shelves where Lizz sent messages to her children everyday. Messages that say: Jesus Saves, He has the whole world in his hands, Brave/Courageous, Get dirty. She read to them. She adopted a World Vision child the age of Fischer to teach them grace and mercy to others. They prayed over the needs of their World Vision child.
To the Dowdy family: We are very special to have two brothers marry two sisters of the same family. Thank you for loving my family and making them part of your own. UT football games, Easter at Grandma Patschke were very special to her .
To her Lexington family, so many memories.
To the Gists and Brother Chuck and the FBC family who helped my children in their journey of faith, thank you. There is no bigger gift to see your children walk a journey of faith with God.
To her Sephora family, she loved you. This was a place that allowed her creative side to be. Charles if you are here, thank you, for mentoring her, developing her and believing in her.
To her Salado United Methodist Church family….thank you for loving this family and the boys through your Mother’s Day out program. You carried on what Lizz was trying to instill in their hearts.
And to friends, family of Lizz, the Dowdy, Herro, and Diem family the outpouring of love and support has been an amazing blessing during these difficult days.
I told Samuel, that since the accident, I have been earnestly praying for the return of our Lord. I look forward to seeing Fischer and Ben return with the most amazing Super Hero ever, our Lord and we will be drawn in the sky to meet them and Lizz and I will once again get to see your face, your eyes, your smile and your embrace.
As I was re-reading my mother’s day card, it now has such significance that I wanted to share today. READ CARD
Thank you for LOVING me
Thank you for TEACHING me
Thank for LISTENING to me
Thank you for INSPIRING me.
Thank you for MAKING me go to church.
Thank you for LETTING me fall and WATCHING me get back up.
Thank you for always BELIEVING in me.
Thank you for always SHOWING me how to be a great Mom.
I love you more than LIFE!
Lastly, I like to think my daughter embodied the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman:
“A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
In the song you are going to hear shortly, there is a phrase from the song that says she was “sent to rescue me”. Elizabeth truly was my gift from God in a very difficult period in my life. I do believe that those difficult years that we went through as a family gave her a love for God and a desire to be an amazing wife and mother. I told Samuel yesterday, Elizabeth was the amazing wife and mother because of those things. They gave her deliberate focus with her marriage and her children.
To Fischer and Ben, I look forward to having you show me a tour of heaven. Introducing me to some mighty warriors…….David, Joshua, Caleb, Timothy, Paul, John, Peter and our Lord and Savior Jesus.
To Lizz, there is such a hole in my heart and I like Sam will look forward to your smile, your joy, and your embrace. Everytime I drink a cup of tea, I will think of you.
And to Hayes William Dowdy, I look forward to holding you, rocking you through eternity.
As I began walking down the steps, the video begins playing……pictures of Lizz as a baby, child, teen, adult, wife, mother display to Martina McBride singing “In My Daughter’s Eyes”.
Please click to listen: In My Daughter’s Eyes
Elizabeth Anne: Your Mom loves you……
Fischer, Ben and Hayes…….Nana loves and misses you.