I wanted to say a few words about my mother-in-law, Margaret Phillips. When I met Debbie in February 1966 I didn't have a car. As a result my dating options were pretty limited. So Debbie invited me to come to her house on a Sunday. I was scared to death and very shy. When I walked in the door her mother was washing dishes. Smiling she handed me a drying rag saying, "your just in time to dry dishes". Of course she was kidding but I was immediately put at ease. I felt like I had walked into the home I had lost three years earlier. She was the center of gravity in the Phillips home to coin a military term. The universe revolved around her. She always cooked for an Army it seemed and was, besides her mother, Grace Brown, the best cook I have ever known. My love for Debbie was enhanced by my love for her family.
It was like a three ring circus. I worked during the week and Debbie was not allowed to date until the weekend. Occasionally if I was lucky I would come over on a Saturday night after work but most of the time I would come over on Sunday after church and spend the day with Debbie. There would be a continuous parade of people coming and going. There were always the regulars. Besides Debbie's mom and dad there was her Uncle Jesse, Aunt Thelma, cousin Gloria, her sister Judy and Judy's husband Hulon. Her oldest sister Sylvia and Sylvia's crazy husband Jimmy. Their children Tammy, Connie, and later Carol. I thought they were the cutest kids in the world. There was Aunt Dovie, who lived across the street and her husband Johnny Smith. Her brother Ronnie and last but not least her grandmother, Grace Brown, who was one of the most colorful and unique people I have ever known,Then there were all the neighbors up and down the street. Half of the people that showed up each Sunday were usually a new batch. I would ask Debbie who they were and it would be Uncle so and so or Aunt so and so. Cousin this and cousin that. No matter who you were you were going to eat and feel at home.
I usually tell people that those years that I dated Debbie and the early years of our marriage were magical to me and she was a big part of that. After we married she was crazy about her grandchildren in the way that Debbie is crazy about hers today. She was constantly keeping them in new clothes. There was no place that I would rather be than at her house. After I got out of the military we were part of the regular crowd that gathered there every week. Here was a woman who never held a job outside of the home and like Debbie kept children for many years. Yet when she died, far too young, at the age of fifty seven in November 1975, of pancreatic cancer, she had the most flowers and largest funeral that I have ever attended. I have heard that my own mother's funeral was huge but I couldn't bring myself to go to hers. But I have only wept for two people in my life and that was my mother and my mother-in-law. Jesus said that the pure in heart shall see God and Margaret Phillips will answer the roll call.