During May, this month of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share some words that I wrote in tribute to my own mother, who passed away on February 10th of this year.
“…we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”2nd Corinthians 5 (NKJV)
We have the hope and promise of eternal life in Christ and can anticipate seeing loved ones who know the Lord again. ~Bob
You made it – 98 years young! I really thought you’d make it to 100; I kept saying that you would, but we remember that our times are in God’s hands. He chose the very day, February 10, 2021, to take you home. Yours was certainly a life well-lived, a life that made an impact on the people with whom you interacted. A life that impacted me, your son.
Many of them braved a cold, windy day and a COVID pandemic to visit with your only son, your only child, and to honor your memory; and…to say “thank you.” I really believed that you underestimated the number of people whom you touched. I regret that our last in-person visits revealed only half my face, but hopefully, that last visit, which I felt needed to take place as soon as I could come out of COVID isolation, communicated my whole heart and deep appreciation.
You crossed the finish line after so many of your friends, those who, like you, lived into their 90’s – including so many who attended the Phebean S.S. class at First Baptist Church of Marietta, the church in which I grew up, where you and my father were members and where you served as the pastor’s secretary for 9 years.
I asked one of the long-time staff members to preach your graveside services. Dean Hunter did a marvelous job. I knew he had seen you and knew you in the good times and the bad, and he painted a picture of someone who displayed the fruit of the Spirit: he specified faithfulness, love, and peace.
Now, the house that you and my father built in 1949 lies empty, but, not really – plenty of memories are stored there. And, the memories of those formative years of my life, being raised in that house where you breathed your last breath, have come cascading back. Memories of family meals together. Memories of love, support, and affirmation. Memories of life lessons picked up along the way.
You know, I think it takes growing up and leaving the house to really realize the indelible impact a parent has had upon his or her children. In a lot of ways, I am very much like you.
And, I think I am coming to realize that even more – you taught me, most of all, the importance of following Jesus, a journey I began at a relatively young age. You demonstrated a diligent work ethic. You were incredibly organized, and I just hope some of those skills made it down to my level – I still have a ways to go! You also taught me the fine art of determining the battles in which we should engage and those we should not.
Now, in a very real sense, I am on my own. You do realize the void when both of your parents have passed away. It’s said that the loss of a loved one is one of the biggest stressors we face in life; I get it – now more than ever! These are foundational relationships, and in the last month, I have experienced those times of being out of sorts, even feeling a bit lost. I caught myself remembering the regular Sunday phone call that was certainly an integral part of our relationship during your last few years. I won’t be picking up the phone – ever again!
But, one day, we shall be reunited – you and my father are experiencing that even now, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that. You spoke regularly of your parents during your final months on this earth – and I am sure that you have had the chance to reconnect. One of your best friends, with whom you would take road trips while you both were in your 80’s, who died just one week after you did and had her funeral service in the adjacent room at the funeral home while we were receiving friends in another, perhaps you all have been or will be exploring the streets of gold.
And, you and I will see each other again. So, until then…goodbye, I miss you and love you.