Mrs. Evelyn Shaw, devoted wife and loving mother, passed away May 31, 2014. Born on September 26, 1924, in Tightwad, Mo., she was the youngest of four girls. She met Arthur in high school and they married in 1943, the midst of WWII. Together they raised eight wonderful children. She was very dedicated to her family, including her 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. And although her tremor was a challenge at times, she never allowed it to defeat her. Her caring heart and stern determination will truly be missed.
Please take a moment to learn more about Evelyn through the eyes of her son, Jim, in this beautifully written eulogy:
A Eulogy for Mother
By: Jim Shaw
June 9, 2014
Mother’s Story: For the first time in almost 90 years, our mother is traveling alone on her new journey. We know her as a Mother, a housewife, a farmer and a career woman who gave birth to a gaggle of eight kids. She was a kind woman who was beautiful both inside and out. Mom was amazing given she had no role model for being a mother due to her own mother’s death when Mom was just 6. But Mom’s strong, determined work ethic and her sense of responsibility enabled her to raise a large family while performing distasteful work that often required long hours. For example: on the family poultry farm in Missouri, she gathered and graded eggs, “dressed” chickens for eating, fed and watered the rabbits etc., while also feeding, clothing and driving “us kids” to swimming lessons and various other personal growth activities such as music lessons.
I have treasured classical music all my life – I suspect it stemmed from Mom requiring me to take music lessons at age 9 – on an accordion. Later, she supported my switch to the flute. It was a lot easier to carry than an accordion.
After moving to California, she raised “us kids” essentially on her own because Dad worked full time and went to law school at night. In order to keep an eye on “us kids”, she found work she could do at home including setting cold call sales appointments for a land developer and soliciting advertising for a local newspaper. After I left home, and, as the kids matured, she obtained fulltime employment. In hindsight, her income not only assisted with meeting family needs at the time, it also ensured an adequate retirement income for Dad and her. Indeed, Dad will receive her full CalPers pension for the remainder of his life.
She made each offspring feel special, almost like that person was her favorite. My younger brothers and sister complained that I was Mom’s favorite (because, frequently, Mom put me “in charge”) but I know she loved us all equally. She never complained to me about anything the others did even when they shouldn’t have. Like when Joe’s goat ate Mother’s most prized flowers. And I know there were multiple times that I fell short of her expectations. For the benefit of my siblings, I will recount the tale of at least one time that Mother became very angry with me.
I suppose all little boys want to impress their mother. When I was about age 9, I learned how to do high jumps and frequently practiced them on the spur of the moment. One day, seeing
Mother’s new wooden rocking chair turned perpendicular to my path, I ran at high speed and
successfully jumped over both arms of the chair, landing on my feet. Feeling quite proud, I
brought Mom into the room and said “watch this!” She didn’t fully grasp what I was doing until I was airborne at which point I heard her scream “Oh no – my chair!” This time my jump did not clear the second chair arm. I collided with the far arm of the chair, turning it into kindling. (I never did buy her a new chair.)
She always encouraged me to ignore the negative talk of others about me by saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sometimes, I hear her voice saying that even today.
In recent years, Mother endured much physical suffering, mostly due to high blood pressure and
osteoarthritis. When she was nearly 80, arthritis required that her left knee be replaced. But through it all, she seemed upbeat and didn’t complain. Her last couple of years, she endured much daily pain as the arthritis spread to the point of requiring her to use a walker. At first, I thought the reason she educated me about the details of her medical condition was because I was a consultant to hospitals.
Later, I realized it was because she knew I had inherited similar issues, including her intense case of Essential Tremor (ET), a condition which forced her to abandon her beloved hobby of artistic painting. Although she occasionally queried me about possible treatments, she never once complained to me or others about the arthritis pain. In fact, I was surprised to learn some family members were, until recently, unaware of the seriousness of her arthritis. In a way I am relieved that she is now free from pain.
What I learned from mother: Mom taught me many valuable lessons about life like work hard and take calculated risks in pursuit of your dreams: As an impoverished young woman who had never traveled far from home, she followed her heart to Florida to marry Dad at the height of WWII. And some 15 years later, she partnered with Dad to leave their small Missouri farm behind and fill a station wagon with kids to drive to faraway California towing a large, “covered wagon” style trailer that contained all their possessions.
More pragmatically, she ensured I knew the importance and value of money. She supervised me in the detail of “grading” eggs, let me help her “dress chickens”, and taught me how to perform other chores on the farm that earned me an allowance. Upon arrival in CA she coached me on how to “sell” magazine subscriptions door-to-door while also teaching me how to type using a predecessor to “Typing for Dummies”. It’s no surprise to me that she mastered today’s software that let her frequently reach into our homes and our children’s homes with Skype video calls.
She had a lifelong belief that it is important to always grow your practical knowledge and skills. For instance, even in her late 80s she took computer classes and participated in weight management workshops at the nearby Community Center. She also valued continuous personal growth through formal education e.g., she obtained her bachelor’s degree at age 50. I am certain that her accomplishment fed my decision to obtain a midlife MBA at age 45 at Berkeley.
She had an incredible talent for balancing family, community, church, and career aspects of life. During her retirement years, she loved to visit with her 8 children, her 14 grandchildren and her 10 great grandchildren. My own children loved her dearly and worked hard to ensure their children would know great grandma Shaw. She always seemed happy with us and with her dog buddies Yosee and Daisy.
I realize now that she was my coach, my cheer leader, my role model and, of course, my Mom. Because of her, I succeeded at many things in my adult life that ranged from building a consulting business to stock investing. I always craved her being proud of me – that little voice in the back of my head today is Mom guiding me thru life. These are just a few of the lifetime memories mom gave to me. . . . . many probably like yours.
I will never hear her voice again or see her face again. There will never be another Skype call with her and that beaming smile with her first hello.
Like each of my siblings, I always felt special to Mom. I always felt loved by Mom. I will always love Mom.
I miss you Mom. . .