This past weekend, I gathered with family in Maryland to say goodbye to my dear mother-in-law, Phyllis Estelle Garrard Lewis. It’s been a difficult couple of months for my husband and his family, as we braced ourselves for her passing, gathering to say our final goodbyes. I will always cherish the memory of my last visit with her… Our last hug was a beautiful moment. She held on long, and tight… both of us knowing… without needing to speak it… that this was goodbye. She whispered “I love you” into my ear. I loved her, too. So much. Mom raised three boys, and welcomed me with open arms and an open heart when James brought me home for the first time. She treated me like her daughter, and I loved her like she was my mom. She was such an inspiration to me, and taught me so much about strength, determination, and how to face adversity with grace, dignity, and a positive attitude. I’m going to miss her so much.
Pasted below is the beautiful obituary James wrote for his mom.
Phyllis Estelle Garrard Lewis passed away peacefully at Seasons Hospice in Baltimore, Maryland on March 5th, 2015. She fought a courageous thirteen-year battle with breast cancer. She attended Freedom City Ministries Church until her illness took away her mobility, but never her faith.
Phyllis’s unbreakable spirit left an indelible mark on the lives she touched. Her infectious smile and radiant vitality shined no matter the circumstance, demonstrating a stubborn resilience in the face of opposition. Phyllis displayed a strong sense of independence; yet, she still had an uncanny ability of upholding fierce loyalty to family and friends, becoming a shoulder or ear for anyone who needed her. The people in her circle knew they had an ally for life.
Phyllis, age 63, was born in Newark, New Jersey to the late Mr. William Foy Garrard and Mrs. Theresa Henderson Garrard on September 19, 1951. Besides being preceded by her parents, Phyllis was also preceded by her sisters Muriel Williams, Anna Mae Garrard Dugger, and Michelle Gordon.
Cherishing her memory are her stepmother, Gertraude Garrard of Hopewell, VA; three loving sons whom she adored: Kenneth Daryl Garrard Lewis of Hamburg, Germany, James William Lewis (Stephanie) of Santa Cruz, California, and Quen Durrell Davis of Bowie, Maryland; two grandchildren: Miguel Lewis (Cassie) of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Tyrone Ewing of Hutschenhausen, Germany; one great-granddaughter Caleesi; three brothers: William Garrard (Elaine) of Baltimore, MD, Malcolm Garrard of Richmond, VA, and Jason Garrard (Wanda) of Richmond, VA; and two sisters: Theresa Garrard of San Antonio, Texas and Alfrieda Williams (Freddie) of Newport News, Virginia. She is also survived by a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, friends, and best girlfriends.
Phyllis’s ready smile and bursts of laughter were her personal hallmarks. She valued moments with all “her boys” while watching them become fine young men from afar. She also enjoyed the little things in life, such as watching a crime thriller on her favorite tablet, perusing the Home Shopping Network, and sampling a healthy scoop of pistachio ice cream. Her greatest joy came from holding her beautiful first great-grandchild Caleesi.
Phyllis was unselfish, warm, generous, and extremely loving. A memorial for Phyllis will be held in Laurel, Maryland, where family and friends can celebrate her life and rekindle their devotion to family, which is what Phyllis held in high regard. Her final wish was to have her boys scatter her ashes in the waters of Seaside, California.