Recently, the Order of Services, had a note in it, looking for volunteers to speak on people or things that have….I forget the exact quote, but asking for sermons on people who have made us who we are today. And while I have mentioned my Dad, several times, Well, this person not only changed MY life, but changed the lives of seven of us kids, 7 grandkids, several in-laws, and far….FAR too many people to count
But, I have told you all about my 98 year old dad, Now it’s time to tell the “other side of the story”.
5-19-23 – Mom and dad in 1944
Now, When i was a kid, Dad programmed our bike locks to dates that he wanted us to remember. 4-20-20 and 5-19-23 were the two main ones. What a GREAT way to remember a date, right?
May 19th, 1923 was the birthday of a woman who changed my life.
Mom was born in Moscow Idaho, and died in Woodbridge, Va. She died in the living room of Mom and Dad’s condo, in Dale City. Diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on January 26, and died on March 4th. I’ll never forget a phone call I received from her when she was diagnosed.
I could tell right away, something was VERY wrong. She herself, was calling all the siblings to inform us. We talked for a short time and thru my mind, traveled many things as what to say to attempt to make her feel better and loved. She had always gone out of her way to do the same for ALL, all of us.
All I found coming out of my mouth, was, “It’s ok Mom. It will be ok”.
“no, she replied, No it won’t ” and hung up. That was the ONLY time in her 78 years of life, that I did not hear her being positive.
Well, I take that back. When Reagan not only won one term, but two! woof!!
Mom was one of two kids who grew up in Moscow, Idaho. She became very active in the church where she grew up and was bitten by the bug of compassion. Realized how much she loved, TO love. Love being compassionate. She was a GREAT student. Great at math and was validictorian at her high school graduation.
She went on to Purdue University where she met and dated Dad. Dad enlisted in the army after Pearl Harbor knowing full well that he would be drafted. A short time later, the two got married because, as Dad’s mom told him, a married man tends to be less foolish while at war, if he knows someone is at home waiting for him, at home.
After the war, Dad had a career as a civilian employee in the military and they traveled around a bit. Every town they ended up in, they quickly found their local United Methodist Church and she would dig in. Remember I said I was was at home at church. My MOM was TRULY at home at church. Helping out, where ever and when ever she could. Every time a new family came to worship service, she would reach out, with a hand shake and smile and often, an invitation to dinner. Complete strangers. Always with a hug. Always with a smile.
As a dedicated and devoted female member of the Methodist church, she joined the UMW, The United Methodist Women and was a member for 35 years. Now, when Mom first joined, Women were not allowed to become Methodist clergy. It’s only been 50 years that women have been allowed to attend Methodist seminary. And Mom, along with some 800,000 like minded women, joined the largest denominational faith organization for women. The UMW’s mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice.
Members raise up to $20 million each year for programs and projects related to women, children and youth in the United States and in more than 100 countries. Mom served one year as the district president.
No matter what town she and Dad ended up in, Mom always found a charity or various organizations to join and help out with. She would for ever be receiving alccolades and praises. She was EXTREMELY dedicated. Attending meeting, after meeting. My sister Jane told me a story about Mom. Many-A- time she would tuck us kids and then leave for one of those meetings. They became common place. One time, during the day, when my sister Jane was 4 years old, Mom stopped by Jane’s room. She noticed that Jane had lined all of her dolls up in a row. With out Jane realizing mom was watching, JANE, got up, went down to row of doll all tucked in and kissed each of them on the four head. Then Jane stood up and said “good night!. Mommy is going to a meeting.”
Mom felt immediate pain and guilt, but also pride in her own ambition and dedication, in helping out her community.
All this volunteering and being a “servant”
in her community. And pretty much, non-stop!?!
I have some catching up to do.
Mom and dad moved a lot. Moving from W. Lafayette, IN. ( Purdue town ) to Springfield, Ill, to Ferguson Mo, to Morris Ill, Newton, NJ and finally to Alexandria, Va. Every town they ended up in, they ended up having a kid. Thank GOD they stopped moving. 7 kids, and they wernt ever Catholic. Just passionate protestants. Every time Mom was offered a job, she got pregnant
With new towns, always came a new churches. And new faces to meet. Mom helped out during church services, helped the ministers when ever they asked, often she helped out often at the front door as a greeter. She would also travel around town, on behalf of the church and visit with folk who requested it. Mom helped out so many ministers that she once told my sister Ann…” when I die, I want to be carried by 6 of former misisters, just like I carried them over the years“.
You would never see mom with out a smile on her face, compassion in her heart, or lacking in time for someone in need. Serving people was ALWAYS a priority. Whether it be serving in church or serving in her community.
Mom spent her time serving community in so many ways. Why in Virginia alone She would: provide a ride to people who needed one, to doctors appointments.
She volunteered endless hours at Monlock House, a safe haven for abused women and children. She drove for Meals on Wheels. She would be a reading tutor at a local elementary school.
I think in her lifetime, she volunteered for over 12 different charities.
She received the Fairfax County Human Rights award. She even received Fairfax Counties’ volunteer of the year award, and it was presented to her by the Mt. Vernon district supervisor Gerry Hyland. Her photo was in the paper and we were all so very proud.
Very often our summer vacation consisted of family camping. Often, we would hit the road and find a state park to spend a week in the woods. Sometimes it was an all day drive, other times only a few hours were spent in a car, getting to our camp site. I remember dad teaching us siblings how to fish. But camping was not Mom’s thing. Her idea of “roughing it” was finding a hotel with out room service.
When I brought my girlfriend home to “meet the parents”, Mom’s litmus test for Mara was telling Mara about a trip that she and dad were about to embark on. Flying out of Regan National Airport into George W. Bush Airport. When Mara said, “ewe”, Mom said, “ok, your in”
I mentioned accolades and awards…….Last year, in 2017, I was at a ground breaking ceremony and press conference, for an event in Gerry Hyland’s district. He had retired sometime earlier, but was actually in attendance. I wanted to introduce myself. Fully being prepared to explain who mom was, as I know he had given many awards and accolades out over her tenure. I said, “Mr. Hyland, I am Brian Hopkins, the son of Beth Hopkins….”, and he interrupted me saying, “ohhhhh Beth Hopkins…what an amazing woman she was….” and went on for another 5 -10 minutes telling me how much she met to his district.
My sister Rev. Lynn Hopkins, told me Mom would encourage her to question everything, challenge anything, and think critically about matters of religion.
And finally, as I wrap up,………..
Mom loved hugs, loved smiles, love meeting people. If you are comfortable with it, let’s introduce yourself to the person next to you, hug them if comfortable, smile or just a handshake.