She was one of eleven siblings and born somewhere in the middle of this rambunctious group. The eleven children were born during a tumultuous time in our country with the Great Depression happening and the second world war brewing. But the Weir Family, as most families did, made things work in Rutherford County, North Carolina.
Eleanor Weir Davis was a bright eyed brunette with a pretty face and an upbeat disposition to boot. It was only a matter of time (and pragmatics: there’s no privacy in a home with thirteen people) before she was spotted by our dad, Philip Davis. Although the time between meeting and marriage was short, this couple weathered all the storms of life and eventually brought my brother and I into the world.
Tim and I count it a remarkable privilege to be raised by our mom. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was an amazing woman to us. Growing up, we always felt loved and cared for by mom. Our father died in 2008 and mom was left to carry on. And, with a stiff upper lip, she did it well.
As youngsters, Mom coaxed us into eating good things (mostly good things). She put marshmallows on cheese toast. She put cheese on top of broccoli. Sometimes she would “dare” us to eat something good for us. Occasionally she’d try to shame us into eating a vegetable. Today we love all those foods and we love unthinkable things like “liver mush.” She was convincing.
But she was also a funny mom. She kept us laughing and said seemingly outlandish things. Once she told me, as I backed out of our driveway, to “have fun, and if you run out of gas in the car, get some more.” Of course, it was with a twinkle in her eye.
She was patient with us, too. As teenagers we put her to the test with our crazy behavior and “test the limits” boyishness. But, she was always there when we’d crash and burn with open arms and the tenderness that only a mom can exude.
Oscar Wilde said, “Youth is wasted on young people,” and we were no exception to that. But as we’ve aged we have come to deeply value what mom has taught us and the way she has loved us. We are honored that God would give us such remarkable nurturing. This gift has also helped us see the Lord and his goodness. Mom has helped us to be more tender, more patient, and more loving toward people. And that, we think, are attributes that reflect the Lord so well.
But mom’s grace toward us is the best part of what we’ve experienced from her. And that, too, has pointed us to Jesus.
Yes, we are fortunate men to have been raised by such a remarkable woman. Even our families have experienced Eleanor Davis in fun and formative ways.
Our wives, Bonnie and Susan, have expressed how mom has always treated them like her own daughters. And this has meant a great deal to them. But my (Neale) kids have experienced her, too.
My son Taylor says, “I never heard her make disparaging comments about other people.” Philip, our middle child, mentioned, “I always think of her smile. She made everyone around her feel love and comfort just by being herself. Strangers and friends alike.”And our daughter Anna reminisced by saying, “She was witty, sharp, funny, easy going, and fun loving.”
Yes, we loved our mom and we will deeply miss her. But we’re thrilled at what she’s seeing now and how free she is. She is, in fact, more alive than she’s ever been before. And we’re excited to know we’ll truly see her again.
But we are sad, too. Our sadness will come and go, but our hope in God will sustain us and we hope that this truth will encourage you, too. In fact, we’re sure mom would love for you to look Christ-ward to find hope and remember that life on earth is but a vapor.
We love you mom!