My wife, Eva Carol Parsons passed from her friends and family April 7, 2016. Two years ago, I delivered my eulogy for her on Friday, April 22, 2016, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Wasilla, Alaska. I started with the following poem by e.e. cummings:
“I carry your heart with me”
I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart
I am never without it
Wherever I go, you go, my dear
And what ever is done
By only me, is your doing,
my darling, I fear no fate,
my sweet, I want no world
for beautiful, you are my world, my true
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
Here is the root of the root
And the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky
Of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than the soul can hope or the mind can hide
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart
Question: Where is Eva now?
I think I know.
She’s in the Mind of God.
In The Mind of God.
Eva is connected to omniscience, that is why we can’t sense her; she is on the other side of our limited senses. We cannot see her because we can only focus on what we can sense and we cannot sense everything that can be known in other words we are not omniscient.
We too, are in the Mind of God, but ours’ is a special place: we have been given five senses in order to sense our world that we know through our senses.
We only know our world, but Eva, being connected to the omniscient world knows everything that was, that is, and that will ever be known.
Where Eva is, includes everything we understand and everything that can be understood.
The barrier between Eva and us has to exist because if we were a part all knowledge, we wouldn’t be interested in this world because it is so limited compared to everything that can be known.
Eva is connected to the Mind of God; she lives in the Mind of God.
We don’t have to worry about her: she is in a bigger place and I am sure they speak really good French there.
Who is Eva?
Wow! Did I learn some interesting stuff about Eva after she passed away from us forever.
I learned she was funny.
Well, just about everyone but me.
I did not know that her colleagues regarded her as hilarious on frequent occasions.
I thought she was pretty funny sometimes, but most of the time I knew her as a focused, serious, private person who on occasion made me laugh at ridiculous situations, usually situations I created.
I learned that Eva meant a great deal to her colleagues:
She was regarded as a mentor, a rock-solid friend, and a highly conscientious team member who always could be counted on to fulfill her duties on time, and follow through with her responsibilities.
She was respected and loved dearly by her fellow foreign language teachers.
I always knew how much she loved learning, speaking, and teaching French.
She loved France and the French language so much, she spent a dozen summers studying for her Masters in French, traveling France with friends, attending a French cooking school for a month, and most interestingly to me, suffering through a private school designed to teach French to diplomats and business professionals.
I say suffered because that school session lasted nonstop from eight in the morning until eight at night, six days a week, for almost three months. It was intense. It was outrageously expensive.
The pay off was that she spoke French so well, native speakers of French complimented her.
After that summer, she moved up in office from a “fluent speaker” to the rank of the fourth best non-native speaker of French in Alaska.
I just made that number up.
But it sounds about right.
Ten years ago, Sam and I listened to two Frenchmen at the Anchorage International Airport.
These guys owned a fishing cabin at Deep Creek and spent a lot of time salmon fishing.
They were trying to figure out a way to check their heavy boxes of salmon.
Eva introduced herself in French and proceed to explain to them, in French, how to use the airline concierge to help them get their boxes on the plane.
They followed her advice and were delighted.
The Frenchmen asked Eva where she came from in France.
They wouldn’t believe she wasn’t French. The were convinced she was born in France.
Compliments don’t get any richer than that.
We lived off the fumes of that conversation for a good seven, or eight years.
Did I mention that I am inordinately proud of Eva?
I admire her teaching career. I admire her motherhood. I admire her ability to accept me for who I am and her ability to inspire me to become a better teacher, father, and husband
I would like to tell three stories that almost no one in this room has ever heard.
Eva was always about work; her work ethic was legend.
One Sunday morning about twenty years ago, she kissed me goodbye at eight in the morning and said she was going to work in Wasilla High to grade papers and plan for the next week. She said she would be home for dinner around five.
I spent the day reading and riding my mountain bike on Ft Rich. I returned home around five.
I put dinner on the table and laid down to take a short nap.
I woke up two and a half hours later.
Eight o’clock rolls around, and I know I am behind the power curve. I called Dwight Probasco and told him Eva hadn’t called about being late and I hadn’t seen her for twelve hours.
He said he would go to Wasilla High School.
Something told him to take a policeman with him. As Dwight tells the story, he had his 44 magnum with him.
He just had an overwhelming sense that something was wrong.
Dwight entered Eva’s room, and Eva greeted him with, “What’s up guys, you’re here late.”
Dwight told her that I had called him and that I was worried. Eva said the time had gotten away from her and that she would pack up in a little bit and head back to Eagle River.
After calling Dwight, I called my neighbor, an APD patrol officer. He in turn, called his state trooper friend patrolling the Glenn Highway and gave him description of Eva’s car.
They never spotted her on the road; she rolled in to the house at about 10:30, chipper as could be and wanted to know if I held dinner for her!
Eva rode ten-speed pro racing bikes with me in her twenties and kept up with the big dogs handily.
We once rode our tandem from Greeley, Colorado to Minneapolis, pedaling 1000 miles, in ten days.
We rode our touring bikes from Loveland, Colorado, two hundred and fifty miles to Casper Wyoming in three days.
We backpacked many times in the Rockies.
But sailing was Eva’s favorite sport.
She sailed Hobie 14s, 16s, and a big Hobie 18.
Eva and I reversed roles on the boat: I was the crew in the trapeze in the front of the boat and she was the captain, the tiller wiggler, and decision-maker.
Somehow, sailing a big catamaran in high winds and six foot chop innervated her, sailing in high wind actualized her inner athlete.
Her brother Vince and I sailed with Eva in thirty-knot winds over and through five foot waves.
Eva never took the easy tack. She never made the easy and safe tack across the wind.
Jibbing the boat the boat where the wind comes across the stern of the boat, grabs the sail and the boom, and slams them to the opposite side of the boat was her tack of choice.
She knew how to control this wild turn and loved to yell out “PREPARE TO JIBE. JIBE-HO!” Most sailors give the crew ten seconds to register the command and prepare for ducking the boom.
At JIBE-HO, the boat stalled for two seconds, Vince and I jumped seven feet for the opposite rail of the boat, ducked under a flying boom and clipped madly into our trapeze cables while Eva laughed and sheeted in the main sail throwing all of her weight and all of her might into the mail sheet. The boat at this point is going three directions at once: it is flying forward, slipping sideways until the leeboard is dropped and most dramatically, the pontoon that we are standing on rises out of the water, eight feet into the air.
We stand on it with our heads twelve feet above the water, rocketing to thirty miles per hour as the wind roars in our ears and the bow spray stings our eyes.
Eva: Wasn’t that great! Let’s do that again!
I think that is how we lived our lives back then: Crazy jibe tack in a high wind after crazy jibe tack, after crazy jibe tack.
We laughed at caution. We welcomed the danger of our sports. We welcomed challenge.
This was Eva in the eighties: One big jibe-ho after another.
In a calmer time, this month in fact, Eva slowed down considerably to about four breaths a minute.
It seemed impossible that she could breath that slowly and continue life.
One morning, in the last week of Eva’s life, Sam was leaning over Eva to listen to Eva’s breath. Sam put her ear close to Eva’s face… Eva said, “BOO!”
Sam jumped back, and Eva, never opening her eyes, said her last words ever: “Just messing with you.”
Her humor stayed with her to the very end.
Eva is gone.
More importantly to me, is that she was here.
She lived her life and she loved her work.
She loved her daughter.
She loved her dogs.
And she loved her husband.
In about that order.
Eva’s last wish for me was that I might live a long life, I should be kind, and I should set a good example.
She knew that she lived a good life as she lived it.
That is about all anyone can ask for in life: to be present in the moment to enjoy it at the same time.
She is in the Mind of God. She is safe, happy, and probably wishes that the rest of us would get on with our lives to live as happily and as richly as she lived.
One of our last moments together was when I climbed up at the head of the bed, took her right hand in my right hand to hold it while we slept. I thought she was no longer conscious of me. She enclosed my hand in her right hand and held it firmly.
She is in my heart.
Our hearts beat together.
She is in Samantha’s heart.
She is in all of our hearts.
She is in our hearts so she can be happy bringing us joy to our lives.