Catherine Twilley Jester 

Catherine Twilley Jester

More pictures of my mother 

Eulogy for my mother, Catherine Thomas Twilley Jester

I celebrate the life of my mother, Catherine Thomas Twilley Jester.

My mother was born March 12, 1924 and raised on a farm near Hebron, Maryland. Her father was Horace White Twilley and her mother was Susie Colona Twilley. My grandfather “Poppa” was a farmer and carpenter. His father died when he was 12 years old and as the oldest child of eleven children he had to go to work to support his mother, brothers and sisters. He learned early, commitment to family and perseverance in difficult times. My mother learned these traits from her father and they served her well throughout her life.

My father, Wilfred R. Jester, and my mother were married in 1946 until death claimed him in 1992. They loved each other so much and out of this love came myself and my two sisters.

My mother was a warm, caring and compassionate person.  Her focus throughout her entire life was her family. She always made me feel safe and loved. She made sure my sisters and I were well fed, clothed and when we were sick she nursed us back to health. She had an uncanny ability to know what each of us needed at the time we needed it. She accepted her children as the individuals we are and developed deep and personal relationships with each of us. 

My mother had a deep understanding of commitment, loyalty and love. She lived those values each and everyday. She took care of my MS ridden father for over three years until he had to be institutionalized; she cared for her mother for fourteen years until just before her death. When I brought home my new bride in 1968, she embraced her as a daughter. My mother always knew how to love.

Mother could be stubborn and could exhibit an iron will.  Those traits provided her the determination to give her family the best and to fight for what was right.  She also had an internal compass to distinguish right from wrong and to act in accordance with her own conscience. It was that spirit in her that encouraged me to do good and supported me in my life.  She always wanted to share so much of my life and experiences - We had wonderful conversations. 

My Mother's convictions were grounded by her great sense of justice.  She taught me to care for those less fortunate and to always, without question, treat people like I want to be treated. 

“In the third grade I had a little girl in my class who was very poor. I had told my mother about her and how she couldn’t afford crayons and had to use our pieces. Mother let me buy her some crayons and give them to her as a gift. Her dresses were soiled and often she had an odor because her home did not have indoor plumbing. One winter morning before class one of my classmates was humiliating her about her clothes. When he hit her, I took up for her. We fought and our teacher came in and broke it up. She took each of us in the hall privately and asked why we were fighting. She called our parents. When I got home that afternoon I expected a spanking. Mother sat me down and told me that fighting was not the way to solve anything but that she was proud of me for defending someone who was defenseless.”

 Mother encouraged us to be independent and have high reaching goals. She understood the value of education and there was never a question about advanced schooling for all her children. It is no surprise that Kathy became a nurse, Sally became a teacher and I became a university educator and researcher.  She was proud of us.  She would have been proud of us regardless of our professions, because she truly knew the good people we had become. In fact, she was the inspiration for many of our goals, dreams and desires.

She had a keen intellect and a great love of the English language and literature. “I was read Alfred Lord Tennyson and Kipling when I was three years old. My sister and I were read the Suwannee River Strange Green Land about the Okefenokee Swamp. I still have dreams about the Snake Woman.”  She was a wiz at crossword puzzles. As a lifelong Democrat, rooting for the underdog, she was politically astute and sharp.  She loved Hillary. She died proud to be able to vote in the 2008 election; she was an avid news junkie to the very end of her life.

These few words can not adequately describe all my feelings about my mother. She was a friend to me and my wife. She was my sisters’ best friend. It was her family that gave her life its meaning. I would call her and she would spend an hour updating me about my sisters and her grandchildren. I would hardly have time to ask her how she was. That was my mother.  Everyone else came before her.  She has left her touch on all of us with whom she shared her love.  We will miss her.