In June, it will be nine years since Jim's mom passed away.
Today I reread the eulogy he wrote for her.
How to squeeze a lifetime of memories into a few moments? We all knew her in different ways – friend, co-worker, volunteer, aunt, niece, cousin, sister, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, daughter, grandmother and finally mother. Some knew her for many years, some only briefly, but she has left a lasting impression on us all.
A tribute to mom has to begin first and foremost with her faith in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She walked through many physical and emotional peaks and valleys hand in hand with the Lord and emerged with a stronger, deeper and steadfast faith that sustained her to the end of her days. A popular Christian song says these words,
“May all who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe and the lives we’ve lived inspire them to obey.”
Her greatest desire was to leave a legacy of faith that would be passed on to her children, grandchildren and beyond. She prayed earnestly every day for her family, never imposing her faith on anyone, but always ready to share when asked. Through her faith example, several people were led to a personal relationship with Christ.
In looking through her Bible the past few days, we found these highlighted verses from Romans 5, which sustained her through her final battle with cancer:
But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Her biggest task was raising three boys. While patience was definitely one of her virtues, there were times where we certainly pushed the limits. Like the time we pestered her to the point of breaking a paddle in half by slamming it on the kitchen table or the countless times we fought in the car because one of us had crossed the “invisible line”. But those were the exceptions not the norm. She provided love and guidance as we grew up, faithfully supporting us in our athletic and musical pursuits. Perhaps her most difficult decision was to step back in faith and give us the independence needed to find our way to adulthood. It was not easy for her to see us take wrong turns, make rash decisions or fall flat on our face, but she put her faith in Christ and we indeed found our way. She offered advice when we asked, correction when warranted but above all - love.
She was determined to raise us to be self-sufficient – teaching us to cook, do laundry, iron and even clean. She raised us to be men of faith and integrity, valuing family and emphasizing the value of investing in our own children’s lives.
Her grandchildren brought her tremendous joy. It was not uncommon to find one or more sitting on her lap listening to her tell them a story or see her on the floor playing a game or at the kitchen table helping them with a craft project or even out in the yard playing catch. Her retirement dream was to buy a motor home and travel the ‘birthday loop’ from Grand Rapids to Delaware to New Brunswick and back again, spending time with her grandchildren and seeing the sights along the way.
Mom was also unassuming, preferring to work behind the scenes, not bringing attention to herself, but working diligently with absolute dedication and excellence. It didn’t matter what the task, if she committed to it, she would follow it through to completion. When our youth group decided to take yearly bike trips, she jumped right in to organize the support vehicles to ensure all the riders had food and drink and were following the direction correctly. She never missed a band festival or concert and was an 8 year member of the Red Navy parents – a group of parents who followed the school swim team from meet to meet all over the state.
She was proud of her work at Steelcase – going from third shift in the factory to the IT department at corporate headquarters. It was common to see her lugging a pile of papers, seemingly bigger than she was, back and forth from home to work. She invested many hours over and above her normal work day to ensure the job was done and done right.
She was a woman of high character and integrity. She had a passion for Jewish history and was fascinated with the Jewish customs and festivals. In 1999 she took a missions trip to
to help build a church. It was a trip that fueled a fire for missions. Although
she was physically unable to take any other trips, she supported a number of
different organizations delivering aid and the gospel to those less fortunate. Brazil
She was strong and strong-willed. Her battle with cancer was a private one – never showing her pain, but always showing a smile. She attacked cancer the only way she knew how – head on with strength and dignity. She read, researched, changed her diet, tried alternate therapies and remained positive even through the setbacks.
Mom, you were the ‘home base’ to our families and while we rest in the certainty that you are indeed home now and pain-free and celebrating with Jesus, you will be missed by all who knew you. We are proud to call you ‘Mom’ and will cherish our many memories of you, and we will honor you by living out the legacy of faith you passed on to us. Although you are now gone, you will certainly not be forgotten and we will ensure our children and their children know that you were faithful to the end of your days.
We love you!
Ken, Jim and Jon
August 25, 1943 - June 8, 2009