Thank you for coming to honor and celebrate the life of Bernetta Kathryn Gibson Roberts, better known as Bunny and to some of you “The Bunster”. To me she was “Mom”, “Mommy” or “MeMa”.
As the daughter of a Toastmaster and Toastmistress I am going to do my best today to make them both proud!
As I sat down to write, the enormity of the task was overwhelming. I thought, how do I do justice to the woman who raised me, loved me as only a mother can, who made me laugh, and taught me by example to be kind, compassionate, loving, inquisitive, strong and independent. I could speak for hours about what my mom meant, not only to me, but to those whose lives she touched. If you were fortunate enough to know her you know how she made you feel…loved and cared for. However, a friend reminded me that there is a church service Sunday morning at 8 am.
There are so many things I admire about my mom, she is my role model and inspiration. She is and will always be my “best friend”! She was loving and compassionate, independent and strong, intelligent and inquisitive. My mom was funny, and had a laugh that would make you laugh and smile along with her. She was thoughtful, creative and artistic, devoted with an unshakeable faith.
My mother’s love knew no bounds, it was absolutely unconditional. I always knew how loved I was because there wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t tell me or show me. And when cell phones came along she would text “I love you” or “LUATWTTMAB” throughout the day, along with what was happening in the world so I wouldn’t miss a thing! She showed her love through her unconditional support of my many endeavors even when I came home in high school and told them I wanted to be a jockey!
My mother’s love and compassion touched my friends as well. She had one daughter but many kids, so, although I may be the “only", my “family” includes many, and I hope they know just how much she loves them. My mom would not only text with me but with my friends as well. If you were going through something difficult it would not be uncommon for her to reach out through a text to ask how you were doing or to offer an encouraging word. Some of you even had text conversations with her about the state of the world and current events.
She even embraced Facebook and Instagram. She never posted anything and wasn’t on there regularly, but she would check in to see what her “kids” and friends were up to and in rapid succession would like all the posts she had missed. One of her “kids”, called it “being Bunny blasted”!
I know towards the end she was worried about me being alone, but the outpouring of love and support for her “only” that she felt from her “kids”, who are family, gave her peace and she knows I am surrounded by love and in good hands.
My mom was a strong, independent woman who embraced anything that came her way. Shortly after they were married, in 1952, my dad, her dear Robby, was stationed in Japan. Her parents and family tried to talk her into staying here until he came home, but true to form, my mom flew to San Francisco, boarded a naval ship, passed under the
Golden Gate Bridge and headed to her new home. While aboard the ship she noticed that there wasn’t a choir, so, she started one! She also found a room where people of different faiths could come together and talk. I am truly surprised that she didn’t take over at the helm!
She took on the role of an Air Force Officers wife with gusto. She loved hosting teas, cocktail and dinner parties and it was during our time in the Air Force that my mom insisted I know how to set a proper table and arrange the flowers. She even gave me a book “White Gloves and Party Manners”. Not only was she a member of every organization, but she usually held some position within it. My Mom did not fall far from the tree, as my Nana was the head of every organization she joined, earning her the nickname “Prez” from my dad.
Being an Air Force wife meant moving to different locations every 3-5 years, packing up, leaving friends and making sure I was ok. I know it was hard for her but she made it seem effortless. I came across a letter from my dad to her written on their 32nd anniversary where he reflected on where they were for each 10 years. He wrote “on our 10th we were at Edwards, California (Mojave Desert) where you tamed two wild creatures of nature - the desert and our soon to be 4 year old”. I am not sure which was wilder, but from her stories of me I can take a pretty good guess! That was my mom, she could handle anything that came her way and tame it.
My mom was creative. She was an artist, pianist, loved spending a day at a museum, and going to the ballet. She loved the ballet so much that she started me dancing when I was 4 and one of her greatest joys was watching me dance in The Nutcracker with the Boston Ballet. She instilled a love of these things in me and later on in life when she was unable to go to museums or the ballet she would have me recount every detail and look at every picture and ask countless questions. Her face would light up as if she’d been there herself. Although, the pandemic was an unfortunate event, it gave my mom the opportunity to once again enjoy and share these things with me through livestream.
I can not talk about my mom without mentioning her deep faith and devotion to the church. My mom grew up in Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn where she was a very active member until she married and started attending Episcopal services with my dad. Eventually she converted and we were confirmed at the same time. On that day my father presented us with bibles with our names engraved on them. That is the Bible she now holds in her hands. Her faith was very important to her. My parents taught me that no matter where you go or what you go through you will always have your faith to fall back on and no one can take that from you.
St. John’s is our spiritual home. My mother loved this church so very much and I know that being able to rest here before her final journey is making her heart smile from up above. She was a member of the choir, led a Sunday group for the high schoolers with my dad, was part of the couples club and head of Altar Guild, which was her pride and joy. Doing the flowers for the altar, making sure the linens were done, the priests robes were on point, the brass was polished. and training new members were a source of happiness and fed her faith. There were many Saturday mornings my mom would tell me and my dad that she’d be right back. Right back when it came to Altar Guild meant 3-4 hours later! My dad never complained because he knew how much joy it brought her. Although she has not been able to attend service for many years the church was never far from her heart. Her prayer book and evening prayers were a part of her nightly routine. She made sure I had the right candles for our advent wreath and grace was said before every meal. The pandemic brought church back to her through live-streaming and this past Christmas we watched the service from her bed at Huntington Hills and she sang along with the choir!
There is so much more I want to say about this incredible woman, my mom. She means the world to me and will forever be in my heart, my soul, my words and my memories. Her love and light will continue to shine in and through me and I know with certainty that we left nothing unsaid. She knows exactly just how much I loved, adored and admired her, not only as my mom but as my best friend and I know just how she felt about me.
I know she is at peace and is reunited with the love of her life, Robby, and they are in each others arms dancing and smiling down on me. God has her now and that gives me great solace.
During one of our last conversations as we were holding hands, she looked at me and said, “I’ve enjoyed life, and I’ve lived a good happy life. Too many people don’t enjoy it. You have to enjoy it.”
Mommy, I promise to honor and celebrate you by continuing your legacy of “living and enjoying life!” Thank you for coming to honor and celebrate my amazing mom. Remember to go out and enjoy life and as you do keep her laughter in your heart.