My mother, Charlotte Lozes Todd, lived to be 100 years old and died on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017.
Allow me to be a little personal and explain what we can learn from her life.
St. Augustine of Hippo around the year 400 said, “We are Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.” This was so true of Charlotte. She loved her God and Savior, Jesus Christ; she loved her family, loved people, loved life and loved to celebrate with others. My mother was an Easter person and believed in God’s power in her life, the Resurrection power that conquered sin and death. Charlotte died on Holy Thursday, when we remember Jesus’ gift of himself in the Eucharist.
Charlotte also loved to sing and taught all her children the songs of her generation. We sang everywhere – in the car on road trips, at family gatherings, in church. She believed what St. Augustine once said, “Those who sing pray twice.”
When we sang at family gathering, if the musicians didn’t start the singing, she would. She had a good voice even at 100.
St. Irenaeus in the second century said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” That is what being a saint is all about – using all your gifts and talents for the glory of God. My nephew Joshua Harvey described his grandmother as “strong, tough, smart, energetic, self-reliant and remarkably social.” I think that’s a beautiful and accurate description of my mother.
My parents had 10 children of which I am the oldest. My mother taught in school before she was married. Lewis and Charlotte Todd were married for 40 years before he died in 1978.
For the next 39 years my mother didn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself. She got involved in many activities from being in the Nain Society for people who have lost a love one, to being a minister in various church activities, supporting the interests of her children and grandchildren. She often visited me in the country when I had some special church function.
Charlotte’s 100th Birthday fell this year on Mardi Gras Day, February 28, 2017. It was fitting because she loved Mardi Gras for the social aspects. She loved being with people whether it was at parties or just going out to eat. The many cards and messages I received had the same message:
“Charlotte treated me with kindness.” That’s the mark of a true Christian.
My Mother also had to deal with tragedies in her life. She not only lost her husband and a grandchild, she also lost her second to youngest daughter in August 2001. Dominican Sister June Engelbrecht tells the story about the death of my sister, Mary Todd, who died of cancer at the age of 46 leaving behind a husband and five young children.
Sr. June was a chaplain for North Oaks Hospice in Hammond and was at the bedside of my sister. Mother was on the phone trying to reach Mary’s husband, Allen, who was in Monroe for a trial in court. Sister watched her take her last breath; she put her hand on Charlotte and said, “She’s gone.”
Immediately Charlotte said, “Father, thank you. You gave her to me; I give her back to you.” That’s a woman of faith!
When Charlotte was about to celebrate her 99th birthday, she wanted to have a birthday party to celebrate her 100th birthday. We tried to persuade her that she was “rushing things,” that she was only 99. She insisted she was 100. So we went along.
She invited family and friends, rented a reception hall, hired a caterer, and more than 200 guests showed up. We had a great celebration.
My theory: Charlotte had two struggles with death before her 99th birthday and realized she might not be around for another year. Or if she were, she would not be in any condition to celebrate. She was right. She never gave up and lived life to the fullest.
May she rest in peace!