Mother’s Mission Completed, We Celebrate Her Life   10 comments

Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Agnes. 

Willie Agnes Poe passed away (September 8, 2006) after three months of fighting post-surgery infection. During the last few weeks of Mother’s life, she shared stories of her childhood and often talked about playing with her close childhood friend, Fern.  (They remained close throughout life.)

“We had so much fun playing in the cemetery — Can you take me back to the cemetery on the hill?’ she would ask.  “I can see the man in black with a big black dog,” she would go on.

In her last days, the man in black visited her.  As we were talking, she looked straight ahead, “…see him, he is here!  Don’t you see him?”  Then she would turn and ask, “Can you bring me a big black dog?  I want a big dog!  Can you get one for me?”

“Yes, we can,” would be my reply,  We were making arrangements for Jill to bring one of their black labs by for Mother, just two days before she passed on.

On August 26, 2012, the family gathered in The Woodlands to celebrate the life of Willie Agnes Poe, which involved a brunch at Cru’ Wine Bar and a gathering at the pedestrian bridge over Grogan’s Mill Road.

After moving to The Woodlands in the mid-1980’s, Mother would walk the trails from her Grogan’s Landing apartment, which included the pedestrian bridge in a six-mile walk around the TPC golf course. Over time, Mother became functionally blind, limiting the trail walking, but not her walking. Early each morning she would spend a couple of hours walking back and forth over the pedestrian bridge. Our gathering at the bridge ended with a symbolic walk over Agnes’ bridge.

Why this celebration now? Because Mother had donated her body to the Texas Medical Center after her death, we didn’t have a family gathering to celebrate her life. It was our understanding that Mother’s ashes would be sent to us 2-3 years after her death. As it turned out, we didn’t receive her ashes till this past May.

Hall Cemetery

Several months after Mother’s death we got word that her brother, J.C. had died.  I knew immediately we were going to Alabama.   How I know just how important it was to bring closure to the Mother’s life. While in Alabama, Joy and I made a point of going to Lincoln, then two miles out to the country church and cemetery in Refuge.  She was always at her happiest when talking about her childhood in Alabama, even more so during her last days with us.  She always wanted to go back but knew she would only be able to in her vision of those childhood memories. It doesn’t go unnoted that with the importance of Hall Cemetery in Refuge, Alabama, Mother didn’t desire to be buried there. For her, a higher priority was to give her body to medicine.

While visiting Hall Cemetery, I wanted so to turn around and see two little girls playing in the cemetery on the hill – to see the man in black with the big dog – to hear them laughing, and see the joy when the big dog came running to the children.  Instead, Joy and I walked silently, on this sunny fall morning through the small cemetery on the hill, which now represents the burial-place of the last surviving member of the Confederate army. As fate would have it, as we walked through Hall Cemetery, a black dog appeared.

By making the journey to Hall Cemetery, I have for my life captured the feeling of two little girls laughing and playing in a world that never vanished from Mother’s vision of happiness.  Real or not, it was real for her – now it is real for me, and I might add, Joy.


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A Celebration Of Life

“When the child was a child, it didn’t know

It was a child

Everything for it was filled with life and all life was one

When the child, when the child

The child, child, child, child, child

And on and on and on and on, etc. And onward

With a sense of wonder

Upon the highest hill. Upon the highest hill

When the child was a child

Are you there

Shassas, shassas

Up on a highest hill

When the child was a child, was a child, was a child

Was a child, was a child, was a child, etc.

… and it’s still quivering there today”


from, Song of Being A Child

Music by Van Morrison, Words by Peter Handke

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10 responses to “Mother’s Mission Completed, We Celebrate Her Life

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  1. A beautiful tribute. Love the story of the man in black.


    • Thanks. Often when talking about her childhood days of working in the cotton fields in
      northern Alabama, Mother will start singing the hymn, “One Step at a Time, Sweet Jesus, that’s all
      I’m asking you…”

      This may not be a song title, but rather a line from a hymn with which she grew
      up, since she would start singing it in the middle of a story, then continue talking about those “great”
      childhood memories.

      “I’m so blessed to have many great memories…what would I do without them?”
      In her last days, these words have become our theme song.
      I’m sure Mother continues moving ahead one step at a time, into Jesus’ hands.


  2. So wish I could have been there. You all are so wonderful to honor her memory in this way…thank you. She was a wonderful Grandmother and I miss her very much. Thanks for making this experience so real for me. It was like I was there on the bridge. Love and hugs.


    • It would have been great if our northwest family could have been there, so I did the next best thing. It was a day that will always foster many memories. As I’ve said to all the grandchildren — Your grandmother was a very special person, one of a kind.


  3. Beautiful thoughts and memories of your mother. She definitely was one of a kind person and I feel blessed to have known her. Thanks for sharing this very special tribute with us,


  4. Daughter Katie just pointed out that the date of Mother’s death (September 11, 2006) it should be September 8, 2006, which has now been corrected. Thanks kate!


  5. Pingback: Page not found « Becoming is Superior to Being

  6. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    She was a fragile, flawed, beautiful person, which was her greatest gift to me. — kenne


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