Sharon Kay O’Neal Maris left this life on January 2, 2018. It was a very cold Tuesday. My mom was no ordinary woman; therefore, I cannot eulogize her with some list of dates and family members on a form letter. Sharon was born in Texas City, TX on October 15, 1959. She grew up the only girl in a sea of brothers and had to be tough. In 1972, she met the love of her life, Larry Maris, in church. They were only teenagers. The son of the preacher, Sharon fell for Larry’s beautiful singing voice, and he fell for her beautiful long legs and infectious smile. They married in 1975 and never left each other’s side for nearly 43 years. Indeed, even in her passing, Sharon slept peacefully by Larry’s side.
She had three children by the age of 21, and so had to put off her own college education to raise and help support her family. She drove an ambulance as an EMT, was an office manager for several doctors, and finally became an operator at a refinery in a time when women were not welcome there. She endured harassment of the worst kind, and yet soldiered on because she knew it would bring a better life for her kids. Sharon always pushed her kids to achieve their full potential. After she left refining, she continued to be a role model for her kids, pursuing her degree in emergency medicine and achieving that goal well into her 40s.
Sharon was a highly intelligent woman. She had artistic talents, teaching herself to sing and play the mandolin. She was also tough as nails. She was always the one you wanted near in a medical emergency. She carried her paramedic kit in her truck no matter where she went so that she could always respond to someone in danger. She was generous and kind to charities and strangers, and she loved her animals. Most of all she loved her husband and children.
Sharon would not have classified herself as anyone special. She did not claim to be the perfect wife nor the perfect mother. In fact, she often felt as if she made too many mistakes. But the truth is, despite her flaws and perceived shortcomings; she left an amazing legacy behind. She left a brilliant daughter, Jesse, who graduated from Baylor and followed in her medical footsteps. Jesse carries Sharon’s physical beauty, almost as a carbon copy; and together with her husband, Dane, is raising three of Sharon’s beautiful grandchildren; Audrey, Ethan and Lila. Sharon also left behind her son, Jimmy Dale, the one to whom she always referred as her “miracle baby”, the preemie she almost lost. He is now a kind and gentle husband to his gorgeous wife Kaci, and a father of three beautiful children; Ryan, Colt and Brylee. Then there is her little surprise baby songbird, Tyler. Tyler grew up to become a brilliant singer/musician and a Senior Airman in the Texas Air National Guard, and he recently married his sweet-hearted, adorable wife Ariel. I guess that just leaves me, Ray. Mama’s forever middle child, I carry on her determination and perseverance. I married my beautiful wife, Bobbi, and we’re raising our brilliant kids; Keilan, Madysson, and Noah. All of Sharon’s grandchildren have some piece of her beauty, talent and intellect as well.
Mama’s life may have been relatively short, but she left her mark on the world, and it was a good one. She has numerous other family members, friends, and loved ones that she also left behind who will miss her as well. Now, she can rest in heaven with her beloved mother, Jimmie, and her brothers; Jimmy, Paul, and Phillip and all who have passed before her who were dear to her heart.
It wasn’t nearly long enough.
We love you, and we’ll miss you, mom. And don’t worry; we’ll take care of daddy. See you again soon.
Graveside Services will be held at 2:00pm on Friday, January 12, 2017 at Galveston Memorial Park Cemetery in Hitchcock, Texas.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be to your favorite charity.