My beloved sister Henrietta, your exit from Planet Earth and exchange of mortality for immortality at the age of 94, make you the longest living member of the Fields family, having outlived by six years your paternal grandfather who was born into slavery. Yes, you have one sister older than you who is alive and brothers and sisters who are alive, and one or more of them, conceivably, could live longer than you lived, or, should Jesus, who you loved dearly, return before they die, like Enoch, they could escape death and be taken alive to that eternal realm called Heaven. But for now, your siblings celebrate your life, longevity, reproductivity and productivity.
Henrietta, you gave birth to and with your husband reared ten children who, except for one, survive you. They have been there for you and during the last two years of your life they reversed the role you had ten times: "children for their mother." During my last visit with you, two months before your death, you expressed to me your appreciation for the loving care your children had given and were giving you. The "Book of Proverbs," include your children in declaring: "Her children arise up, and call her blessed." (Proverbs 31:28)
You were productive. As operator of the Cooper's Sweet Shop, you made glad, in particular, many students who you served delicacies after they left school. You sang in the senior choir, served as a member of the Stewardess Board, as a missionary and in other capacities at your membership church.
You participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956 and I will never forget the counsel you gave me when I served as secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) the first six months of the bus boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr., was president of the MIA that provided organizational leadership for the bus boycott. You attended mass meetings and encouraged your children and your husband to not ride Montgomery city buses at the time when your oldest child was about 12 years old. Your husband, an itinerant preacher, heeding your admonishment and only rode the greyhound bus to the rural churches where he was the pastor. A participant of the Montgomery Bus Boycott you are featured in the Rosa Parks Museum on the mural "Posey's Lot."
I recall how proud you were of me when you learned that I, a young pastor, registered to vote. This happened two years before the bus boycott and ten years before the Federal Voting Rights Bill was enacted. At that time only a few African Americans dared to vote in Montgomery. You often encouraged me to be an encourager for others.
Let me close with the song I sang during "The Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Henrietta Fields Cooper," that was held on June 29, 2012, at the First Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Montgomery, Alabama, prior to the eulogy that were offered by your son Reverend Mark L.Cooper:
To lose the earth you know, for
To lose the life you have, for
To leave the friends you love, for
Heavenly loving and angelic fellowship:
To find a land more sweet than home
and more awesome than earth.
Behold! A wind is rising and rivers
Your soul too is rising and flowing;
You are communing with the wind and
You, the wind and the rivers are one.
Farewell my sister Henrietta,
Your brother Uriah.
Copyright 2012 by Uriah J. Fields