Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Good Morning God and Other Lessons by Elisie

I mentioned last week that Elise gave a beautiful eulogy at her grandmother's funeral. She shared it with me and gave permission for me to share it on here:

     We’ve all heard that expression, “What’s in a name?” Well, I hope there’s a whole lot! I’m “little Elise,” Elisie’s namesake.  Like my grandmother, I’ve always loved performing and being on stage, so it is only appropriate that I stand up here today to remember the woman who gave me my first, albeit informal, acting lessons. I remember like it was yesterday the very first dramatic poem she taught me, “An eagle flew into the air!...He can stay there for all I care.”  
     I think I can best eulogize Elisie by telling you the life lessons I’ve learned over my nearly 30 years of knowing her. These lessons came in various ways such as during our “tea parties,” where she would always light a candle for a little ambiance, during prayers, when I had friends spend the night, but most often, she taught by example.

 A Dozen Life Lessons I learned from Elisie:

1. Always greet others warmly.
No matter if you can’t recall their name. Everyone responds to “honey, precious or dahlin’.

2. Never say an unkind word about anyone.
Elisie was the epitome of a southern lady, and never had anything negative to say….She was certainly known to say “bless her heart,” but again, nothing negative.

3. Love fully
To hear Elisie talk about her late husband Spec, you would think he had died recently, but in fact he died over 40 years ago. It was a beautiful thing to hear Elisie talk about her husband. Until the end whenever she spoke of Spec, her eyes would light up, and she would often tear up.

4. Elisie had great marital advice for wives.
My mother tells the story of the best marital advice Elisie gave her. When my parents were newlyweds and living on their farm, my mother mentioned that she intended to get right in there and help out, even saying she was going to learn to use the tractor. My grandmother stopped her quickly, and with a wise, yet insistent tone said, “Honey, don’t learn.” I guess she figured if my mom learned to use the tractor, she might be expected to do so the rest of her married life.

5. We’ve all heard that expression, “dance like no one’s watching.” Well, Elisie loved to dance, and she did so with that spirit.
I recall watching the Lawrence Welk Show with her as a child. She would get up and dance around the room to the music and try to teach me the dances of “her day.” One of my favorite funny memories was during one of these spontaneous dances in her living room, she was laughing and singing along, and looked over at me (maybe five years old at the time) and said, “Remember that one? Oh! I ‘spec that was a bit before your time dahlin’.” I guess you could say Elisie got lost in the moment.

6. Enjoy your food.
Elisie loved food. She always had buttermilk in her refrigerator and candy hidden under her “divan.” She also loved to salt her food….a lot. I remember sitting at the table one Sunday after church. My daddy watched her shake and shake and shake that saltshaker, and he finally said, “Elisie! Don’t you think that’s enough salt! Too much is bad for you, you know!” She looked at him, cocked her head and said, “Well honey, we ARE the salt of the earth!” Who could argue with that?!

7. Express yourself properly and like a lady.
As I young child, I remember coming inside from a hot day playing outside with the twins (Kara and Julia Givens). I told Elisie that I was sweating. You should have seen her face as she exclaimed, “Dahlin’!!!!! Ladies don’t sweat; they PERSPIRE!”

8. Always say thank you.
Last year after she was featured on the famous Smucker Jar on the Today Show, we were talking on the phone and she mentioned, “I’ve just written a thank you note to the folks at the Today Show.”

9. Be a gracious hostess at all times
Elisie loved to entertain whether it was her bridge club, family gatherings or someone just dropping by for a visit. Right before her 106th birthday, my dad mentioned having a cake in her room to share with Providence’s staff, family and friends. She promptly said, “We’d better have mixed nuts too, honey.” Keep in mind this was two days before she passed away. She was a gracious hostess until the end.

10. Always keep God first.
Elisie would read what she called “her lesson” each and every morning and would begin her morning prayer, “Well good morning, God!”
If ever I, or my parents missed church, Elisie, without fail, would call us and say, “You missed a mighty sweet sermon this morning!”

11. Look on the bright side of everything. And I do mean everything.
When asked about living through the Great Depression, she would say, “Honey, we didn’t know there was any ole depression. We just had a grand time!”
You never heard Elisie complain and she certainly never mentioned any ailments. Most of you know that she was a Christian Scientist, so she never took medicine. If she wasn’t feeling well, she would pray about it. And that was that.

12. And finally, never, ever lose faith.
I remember talking with her one hot summer when Senatobia had a drought. In a matter-of-fact, bordering on indignant voice she said, “I told Neesie to bring in the cushions off the patio. We’ve been praying for a rain, so we’ve certainly been expecting it!” Keep in mind there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was no rain in the forecast. And do you know what? It rained.

Back to my original question, “What’s in a name?” Well, I don’t know, but I promise you I will do all that I can to live up to it. Thank you.

By: Elise V. Stacey

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