This is dedicated to my mother, Janet Shitabata, who went home to be with our Lord Jesus Christ on this day, August 27th, in 2013. This was her eulogy that I spoke at her memorial service in Honolulu, Hawaii, on what would have been her 80th birthday, on September 28th, 2013. I love you Mom and will see you again someday.
Let’s take a walk on the wild side.
Back in the 80’s, a dashing young actor named Tom Selleck emerged on the television screen as the Hawaii private investigator, Magnum P.I. He was instantly popular. Women adored him and my mother was no exception. Mom was a schoolteacher with a schoolgirl crush! Everyone knew about it and when she retired from Washington Intermediate, she was gifted a toilet seat with a picture of Tom Selleck!
Not too long after that, Mom embarked upon a second career as a writer of romance novels. The facade of a mild mannered schoolteacher hid a passionate heart that yearned to weave complex tales of love and intrigue. She joked about writing a bestselling Harlequin romance but she was quite earnest in her pursuit of this goal, joining the Romance Writers of America and participating in several author support groups. While she never did write a bestselling romance novel, she did have several of her stories published in Honolulu newspapers and in a book of local Hawaii authors.
Many of you who spent time with her during this past year marveled at her peace and acceptance of her disease. Some wondered if she was in denial or perhaps she was showing signs of early dementia. Yes, she was at peace, not because of any mental lapses or denial of her condition, but because she had the reassurance that she was secure in the arms of her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When she first learned of her diagnosis, she told me she was stunned, but then quickly realized that she would now see her Lord sooner than she thought. And this brought her peace and comfort.
My mother lived a far more colorful life than most people ever realized. But my mother’s wildest and most uninhibited side of life was placing her trust in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It allowed her to face her cancer with renewed strength and hope and it allowed her to see the world far more clearly through God’s guidance.
My mother is now home and at rest with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, unhindered by her cancer, continually comforted, and enjoying God’s infinite blessings. She is there because many years ago, she made the choice to accept His invitation to follow Him. She knew this was the most important choice she could ever make in her lifetime because there is no other name in Heaven or on earth that could bring her to salvation.
In her last days, my mother shared with me, “I love you and I really appreciate you. I’m not afraid to share that with you or anyone anymore.” When I asked her why, she replied, “I was always brought up to not share my feelings. But now, I feel free to share these feelings and I want you to know that I have been telling everyone that.”
God blessed my mother and through her life, blessed so many others, including everyone who is here today. Over the past 15 months, since her initial diagnosis, numerous relationships were restored. Conversations and fellowships emerged and gathered around my mother. But my mother knew it was God at work, restoring and redeeming the time through her illness. Her walk on the wild side is truly beginning anew. The wildness is the inexpressible, uninhibited and unending love and peace that only comes by being in God’s presence in Heaven. My mother is with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As wonderful as her love was to all of us, she knew that the love of Jesus Christ surpasses all understanding and is sweeter than anything we could ever experience or imagine.
And because she loved all of you who are here today, I know that she would like all of you to join her there someday.