Phillips, a 69-year-old Florida grandmother, detailed her life in a touching but no-nonsense manner in a self-penned obituary that thousands are now reading. She died on March 25, just 29 days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but not before she sat down and documented her life in the moving 1,045-word piece published in the Florida Times-Union.
There is nothing special about her life, she claimed, but that she lived it to the fullest.
- "I was born; I blinked; and it was over. No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor.
But I DID have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all my family members. How much more blessed can a person be?"
Phillips reminisced about growing up in North Carolina, spelling out simple but beautiful memories:
- "I remember grandmother Nonnie who sewed exquisite dresses for me when I was little; I remember grandmother Mamateate wringing a chicken's neck so we could have Sunday dinner ... I remember cutting small rosebuds still wet with dew to wear to school on spring mornings, and I remember the smell of newly mowed grass."
She continued by spelling out all the roles she cherished filling over the course of her life, from daughter to mother to grandmother, from teenager to graduate to teacher.
Phillips loved to write, her daughter Bonnie Upright explained, so her family was not surprised when she wrote her own obituary. Upright said the piece epitomized her mother.
When she sat down to read it to them just two weeks before she died, the family laughed and cried together, Upright told ABC News.
"It was one of the most special moments of my life to hear my mother tell her life story in her words, in her way, in what were incredibly difficult circumstances," she said. "So as tragic and as sad as death is, her courage and her bravery in facing her death and in wanting to leave a mark her way is incredibly special to the family."
Upright said she is so proud of the impact of her mother's words.
"We all think our mom is the best -- as they should," she said. "To have that mom and a moment of clarity and a moment of grace with a sense of humor -- which is how she raised us -- was just truly something remarkable."
Read the full obituary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.