Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tribute/Eulogy

I want to tell you a story. It’s not a bedtime story and it’s not a fairy tale, but it does have a happy ending. 

 There once was a little girl with one green eye and one brown, and she knew that this made her very special.  She was always on the go, full of life and fun and joy. This little girl was also a big sister; a job that she took quite seriously. She loved to look after her sisters and her brother, even mother them. They were a good bit younger than she was, but they often turned to her for advice and she loved caring for them, inspiring their imaginations, and teaching them all the good things of life that she had already learned. Her little siblings always wanted to spend time with her, to play and even go to movies with her. She would write and direct little shows for them to act in and entertain the whole family. The little girl kindly listened to her siblings, nurturing them and enjoying her role as big sissy, even including them in her activities when she was a teen. They were so fortunate to have the richness of her protection and love throughout their childhood.
Family was very important to this little girl. She loved their holiday traveling and was raised with a great interest and appreciation for her family’s long heritage and history. Every year she looked forward to when they could go to the cottage on the lake in the summer and she would swim like a fish in the warm shallow water and lay for hours reading in the sun on the dock.
Our little girl also loved animals. When she was a bit bigger, she got her very own horse, which she believed was considerably better than a car. The horse’s name was Buck and every day she rode him like the wind through the fields and pastures, her long brown hair blowing behind her and her cares blowing away down the green hills. She loved to take her siblings with her to the barn to see her horse, often trying to get them to ride with her and letting them know he was fun and safe even when he seemed so large and scary.

One ordinary day, this girl was enjoying a regular afternoon at home. There weren’t many channels on tv back then and the one that just so happened to be on was a showing of a Billy Graham Crusade. She chose to leave it on that station and it didn’t take long for the girl to understand that Mr. Graham was talking to her when he spoke of how everyone needs to know Jesus. From that extraordinary moment on, this girl’s life would be different. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she also knew that since she had given her life to Him she would be in His hands no matter what.
As she grew, her heart grew as well and she took in more loves. Every little girl dreams of a beautiful wedding and hers was no exception. Early in the fall with her family surrounding her she started her grown-up life. She then wanted nothing more than to have babies and a home of her own. This girl could never say, “no” to any challenge and with her new husband helped to build two houses and always kept her home cozy and filled with good, nourishing foods. She raised sheep and chickens and goats and enjoyed growing many of her own herbs and vegetables. She loved living among the trees with flowers and greenery all around her. She loved reading and writing and she loved the television. She definitely shared an appreciation for story with her children. Mysteries and crime dramas were some of her favorites and she could watch Anne of Green Gables a million times. She loved old photos of family and what many would probably call old junk and she was always on the hunt for a great deal at a garage sale. She was crafty and she decorated her home, baked and canned and gardened with love for her family as well as others. She would never hesitate to give the gift of her time or her friendship to anyone who needed it. Her many friends cherished her and knew she was a true friend. 

Daily she tried to instill godly values and truth in her children. She loved them desperately and always wanted the very best for them. Often she prayed for them and even prayed for the hearts of the people they would later love and marry. Children brought her so much joy and she was one of those who could make any baby or child smile.

She loved with her actions. Not only would she give of her time or effort but she was also a hugger and a kisser. She loved with her words. She spoke encouragement and cards were regularly sent to many for birthdays and just because she wanted others to know she was thinking of them. When her children were away from home she would send letters and care packages aplenty.  She loved with her gifts. If you complimented her on something of hers, it was possible that she would hand it to you outright with no question.



Of her many gifts, this girl had the gift of hospitality.  All were welcome in her home and at her table.  When her children were in school, she worked diligently to provide the ability to send them to a Christian school. To help with their tuition, she even became the school librarian. With her great love of books and ability to do well with anything she tried, she was the best librarian they had ever had. The students all knew that they could crash the serenity of her small haven of books and she would listen and let them just be the kids they were. Silence was never a prerequisite in her room and one often could hear her huge, infectious laugh ring over the rest of them.

The girl never hid her faith in Jesus. She studied the Scriptures regularly and gained an invaluable knowledge of the Word. Whatever she did, she did to praise her Lord. She sang with her whole heart and she strove to honor Him with her choices. 

Of course, like everyone else, she wasn’t perfect nor did she always make the right choices. She had plenty of passion and fire and boy, did she have a temper! One would have thought she was in target practice, because when she got riled up she had quite an arm! But in spite of the occasional temper, she was never too proud to apologize. She always took the time to set relationships right.

Unfortunately, our girl’s body betrayed her. When she found herself getting frequently dizzy and her hands and feet became continually tingly, she knew something was wrong. But, like I said before, our girl had a hard time saying, “no.” She wasn’t about to let this get her without going down fighting. This girl tried every therapy, attempted every possible clinical trial and made every effort for healing. 

 It was a long, hard battle. Even unto the very end she fought her body. Yet it simply wasn’t a fight she would win. Her body got more unfaithful and continually weaker. Her grandma had always told her to slow down and now, all of a sudden, she didn’t have a choice in the matter. When it eventually became impossible to walk and she needed much more care than her family was capable of providing, she made the choice to move to a full-time care home. For too many years, she was merely able to emotionally trudge through each day, initially responding in great anger at the frustration of being unable to do anything for herself or the injustice she likely felt at life. Her mind didn’t even treat her fairly. She lost many of her memories and her ability to distinguish those she loved. Slowly, she accepted her life. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice, but she kept her eyes on Jesus and she kept His Words before her on her walls. Even in the anger and even when she would lash out at anyone near her, she knew she wasn’t alone; she wasn’t in this by herself. 

Many prayed for her regularly, visited her weekly, sent her cards and gifts and flowers consistently. Our girl was loved by those who served her, and she was served by those who loved her.
 Though she never really was, “our” girl, was she? When she was young, she committed her entire life to her Savior, Jesus. She wasn’t her own; she didn’t belong to her family or her friends or anyone else. She was His. She is His. He has had her in His hand her entire life here. We live in an endlessly broken world. Death and destruction and pain are all around us. We surely cannot understand the whys or the whens, but we do know this; He is Truth and He is Life. He always gives Life and restoration. It is not a trifle to say that she is with her Savior. She is whole, she is well, she is alive. Death was conquered so many centuries ago for each of us. Her life still speaks of His life. Her love spoke of His love.

She loved each of us. In different ways and for different seasons, but she loved us truly and fully. She loved us with His love. We will miss this girl; miss her desperately. We’ll miss who she was and what she brought to our lives. We’ll miss who she inspired us to become. But she is where she wants to be, where she always desired to be. She is where we want her to be. Her death wasn’t easy, she fought for her last breath, but it was good. It is a cliché to hear that someone is in a better place, but God has promised it and His promises never fail. Not one time.

I told you I would tell you a story with a happy ending, but that isn’t completely true. You see, I don’t really know the ending to the story. C.S. Lewis put it best at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, a series she had read several times. Let me read you the final passage. The characters have just realized that Aslan’s country is the real Narnia, and they were merely in the old Narnia—a shadow of what was to come. 


 “It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow completely different -- deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: a story you have never heard but very much want to know.
     The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
     It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground, and then he cried:
     "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Come further up, come further in!"
"The semester is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."


 I love you, Mom. Can't wait to see you again and have a real talk and lots of laughs.


9 comments:

Cindy said...

beautiful, anne! what a joy to know you will see her again someday. prayers continue for all of you....

Dawn said...

Perfect tribute, Anniebella...
Perfect.
xo

Stacey said...

What a story ... Although we've never met, I can see that you've woven bits and pieces of your mother's example into your daily life. She has got to be so proud of you. This is such a beautiful tribute, and as hard as it must be to say good-bye for now, you can rejoice in the knowledge that she's back to her old self and looking forward to hugging you again someday!

Jean said...

Thank you for sharing a beautiful tribute and memories of who your Mom is, Anne. In a lot that you wrote, I see you. Her love of her kids, gardening, canning, books, hospitality, friendship. And how perfect and true that the story has not ended for her, but just begun.

Two Sisters' Cakes said...

What a beautiful tribute, Anne. Your mother was a spectacular woman of God. I'm thankful for the time I had to share with her.

Becky D. said...

Anne...that's awesome! Sounds just like you and all the stories you wrote/told as a girl! You couldn't have been more perfect for that job! I know it took you awhile to write, but it was absolutely perfect! And I learned more about your Mom than I knew (realize now why you always loved Anne with an e so much!) and was reminded of some of things I had forgotten! Based on that story, I would say you are almost an exact replica of all the good parts (and maybe not so good parts :)) of your Mom and that's why we all LOVE you!!

Joy said...

Anne, your mother's heart clearly poured love into yours...and now mine. I'm sorry I never met her; yet, I've met a beautiful branch of her in you. Thank you for sharing this tribute. My prayers are with you and your family.

Buffy said...

I've been thinking about CS Lewis all day. This was lovely. Thank you for sharing it.

A. Kay Daniel said...

What a beautiful tribute, Anne, a lovely piece of workmanship on your part. I'm so glad you did this.

(Arlene Coulter)