Ten years ago, my sister-in-law Sandra Adams Leatherwood died on this day. Here are the words I spoke at her funeral.
These seem fitting for today.
My name is Len Leatherwood and I am Sandra’s sister-in-law. My nieces requested I say a few words about their mother today.
Sandra had a quality that is undeniable: she never gave up.
She never gave up when she was a little girl in Korea and she picked up coal from the ground that American serviceman tossed down from trains to help keep the people warm through a cold winter.
She never gave up when her mother had to take her to an orphanage and leave her there so she wouldn’t starve to death.
She never gave up when she arrived in little Bonham, Texas, with her new brother, Jimmy, and joined the Adams family, Jesse, Ethelmore and her new big brother, Mike.
She never gave up when she headed off to college, became an RN and set out on a lifetime of service to veterans, some of whom could have been those very men who helped save her life in Korea.
She never gave up once she married my brother George, whom she stood steadfastly by through his battle with alcoholism and then twenty years of sobriety before they faced his ultimate challenge: his own fight and premature death from cancer, a disease that had begun to plague her, as well.
She never gave up on her three beloved daughters, Leslie, Katie, and Mahlon, who she has guided, stood by and supported throughout their lives.
And she never gave up on her own very long fight with cancer, from which she bounced back time after time to the point that most of us wonder if she won’t be walking in that door in just a minute, saying, “No, I’m still here.”
The truth is that Sandra is still here and will be forever for those of us who have had the privilege of knowing her well.
A woman who three weeks before her death insisted on going to CVS to use all of her coupons.
A woman who two weeks before her death was still planning a trip to Florida because she couldn’t take those airline points with her.
A woman on the day of her death who knew she was loved and could die in peace.
Sandra’s life is a testament to enduring the toughest of challenges and still living each day with presence and grace, with a twist of humor tossed in for good measure.
We are all better people for having known her and can strive to live our lives as she has taught us: Never give up!