Saturday, March 30, 2019

It's a wonderful life. . .

I have written before on these pages of my mother-in-law and my father-in-law.  Theirs was a second marriage but a first love -- a love to which I was privileged to be included -- from their wedding until Al's death in 2014, and now Mary's today.  When we picked Mary up and drove her from Indiana to Tennessee for my daughter's wedding, she went with us on a small shopping trip.  While surveying some pillows, she found one that said It's a wonderful life.  She clutched the pillow to her and said with a smile, "And it is!!"  If you knew Mary, you know how typical that comment and sentiment is.  It is a wonderful life.  Well, it depends.

Mary grew up in tough times with a family that had plenty of love but not much else.  It was hard times and it did not get better.  After she married her first husband and they had four children, he died suddenly at 41.  Her life was transformed by this loss.  She worked in a school cafeteria to make ends meet.  But she was set up by friends on a date with my father-in-law, who himself had lost his wife to cancer and who was left to raise their five children alone.  Their marriage was a godsend for them but grieving children and testy teens tested their love.  They had many happy years together before my father-in-law began suffering from Alzheimer's.  She did not complain and did a wonderful job of caring for him and keeping his memory alive as long as possible.  That was four and half years ago.  She missed him terribly every day until the day she died.  But it's a wonderful life. 

Do you get my point?  It was not a wonderful life and she lived no charmed existence.  But she was a woman of faith and a woman whose good heart refused to dwell on things gone wrong or to be embittered by the pain and loss she knew.  It was a wonderful life not because she had it easy or lived a fairy tale happily-ever-after existence but only because that was how she decided to see life.  Her strong faith certainly shaped this hopeful life but it was also a choice, a decision that she had made -- not to dwell on pain or loss but on happy memories and a hopeful future.  The outcome of that hopeful future was the promise of the resurrection of the dead through our Lord Jesus Christ and the reunion with those whom she loved who departed this life in faith.  She lived 92 years but that was not enough.  She expected and lived in anticipation of the eternity prepared for her by our Lord Jesus Christ and was not going to settle for anything less. 

So it was a wonderful life -- if not in fact and history, it was in faith and hope.  She lived to say good bye to those whom she loved.  In fact, for several of her last days she seemed to have endless energy to talk to family sitting around her and to friends and family who came to say good bye.  When the energy wore down, we gathered around her to pray and sing some hymns and tell stories.  When she became quiet, still her family gathered at her bedside so that she would not be alone.  When her death came, it was later than we thought but still too soon for us.  None of us have quite learned to emulate her hopeful heart and cheerful demeanor and so we depended upon her more than she ever knew.  And now, we pray the Lord to teach our hearts her joy, her patience, and her cheerfulness even as we commend her to the arms of her Savior and wait for our own blessed reunion in the Lord’s own time.

2 comments: said...

Sorry for your Loss Pastor

Janis Williams said...

Prayers for your family as you adjust to the hole left by death of a beloved family member.