Eulogy - Evelyn Eddleman Hitt

02/05/1917 - 01/28/2002

Radley Funeral Home, Mobile AL
31 Jan 2002 2:00 PM

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. We are saddened at the loss of my mother, Evelyn Hitt. Death always brings its grief to those who remain. Yet this day is not filled solely with mourning for a loss. We gather also to acknowledge the gain of having had Evelyn in our lives. Today we not only grieve my mother's death, but also recall and celebrate her well-lived life.

My cousin Jack Hollingsworth said it all in a phone conversation two nights ago when he exclaimed, "What a gracious lady!" I fully agreed: Mom indeed was full of grace, which is what gracious means. But for the life of me I cannot fathom how she maintained this grace after all we put her through over the years.

Born in the heart of the Mississippi Delta in pre-Depression times, Evelyn came from a family who was as poor as the land was rich. They soon migrated to their new home in Clinton. The youngest of 3 children, she was tagged at an early age with the moniker "our Baby Sis" by her older brothers. Knowing Uncle RA and Uncle Leo as I did in their later lives, I can only imagine the good-natured jousting she endured at their hands...hands I am certain often found their way to a playful tug on her golden locks. Yet mother emerged from her adolescence intact, and in fact blossomed into a most attractive young woman, enough so to be chosen "Most Beautiful" at Mississippi College by her senior year. By then my father-to-be had already taken note of her beauty, and had asked for and received her hand in marriage.

Evelyn had left the house of boys that was her family of origin, only to discover in the early years of her 65-year marriage that she was destined for yet another such house.

Our father, as serious as a heart attack when it came to being an FBI agent, often became a playful jester as he crossed the threshold from his professional to his home life. Surely it must have seemed at times to our mother that despite what was recorded on her marriage certificate, she in actuality was commissioned to raise not two but three boys!

"What a gracious lady, full of grace." But once while we lived in northern Virginia in the 1950's our Father gave this woman's graciousness quite a test. Recall that this was an era when smoking cigarettes was considered cool, fashionable, and not at all a serious mortality risk. My father's poison of choice was Camels, unfiltered of course. And at that time we lived in an apartment community where each front door contained a mail slot. One Saturday afternoon mother was returning from the grocery store, both arms loaded to her blond eyelashes with bags of food and supplies. Our father devised what he mistakenly had planned to be a harmless little prank. He squatted at the inside of the front door, took a long draw from his Camel, and expelled a blast of smoke through a slightly opened mail slot just as mother reached for her keys on the outside. In less than one second, mother was in full-blown panic, certain that our home was going up in smoke, and all the boys with it!

It took most of a half-hour to retrieve the groceries scattered over the sidewalk. But it took several times that to retrieve my mother's graciousness, and for my father to gain her forgiveness for a practical joke that had stepped just a bit over the line!

In retrospect I think I understand why mother became so active in the Women's Missionary Union as the primary outlet for her Christian service. Surely she wanted to give expression to her Christian faith. But equally important, she must have felt she had to have some contact with the feminine side of the universe to add some sanity and balance to her days!

What a gracious lady, so full of grace. In each other, my parents found the perfect complement to their respective selves. Their relationship was passed through the fires of various trials over the years, but came out with a tempered strength that would carry them through sixty-five years. I never questioned their steadfast devotion one to the other, nor the constancy of her love for Richard and myself.

And thus it is that the inevitable finally came to pass early Monday morning. A life well-lived came to an end on this earth. So I must say, "Good-bye Baby Sis." Fare thee well, "Most Beautiful." Godspeed, Mother, and may you once again lay claim to the Peace That Passes All Understanding, a peace unfairly denied you over these last years. And to frame the words that our dear father might speak if his own disease did not withhold them from his lips, I would say, "Be-bye Bunny. Sweet be. Thank you for 65 incredible years. Hold 'em in the road. And I'll be along directly."

Joel R. Hitt, III
Lawrenceville, GA