Saturday, December 5, 2015

Extemporaneous Eulogy

Extemporaneous Eulogy

I started this journal entry October 18 while driving back from the funeral. Had to put it aside, and then got swamped. (mostly work stuff)

We said goodbye to Mom that Saturday (the 17th). It was expected, but sudden. Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's maybe four years ago. The illness proceeded slowly, but then seemed to speed up this past April or May. At the end, her heart gave out. That's what made it sudden.

Hospice advised Dad to solicit prepared comments from friends and family, and he did. There were a dozen brief letters and all were read with tears, some by those who wrote them. (Those who were able to attend.) My sister and I were last up. I didn't write my comments word-for-word, but did have notes. So I called it an "extemporaneous eulogy". 

From my notes and from memory:

I woke up that morning thinking about things parents give their children which the children cannot repay. On balance, there are things children give their parents which the parents cannot repay.

I in working up what I would say, the following points came to mind:
  + closure
  + resurrection
  + reward
  + legacy


She's done. She can now not fail.
Hebrews ch 11 has the Faith Hall of Fame. Then in 12:1 it admonishes us to, "run with endurance the race that is set before us".

Mom loved the Lord more than anyone I know. And she loved us without reservation. I spoke with her briefly Tuesday night just before she passed. She was having a rough evening and all she could muster was "love ya, love ya, love ya". I replied with the same "love ya, love ya, love ya".
Those were our last words in this life.


I Thesalonians 4:16 says, "the dead in Christ shall rise first".
At the service, I told Dad, there before the group, "When the trumpet sounds, if you're still here, she'll get to go first.".


Someone had said Mom "made her world small". I'd say it was more that she chose her focus. She put her energy into knowing the Lord plain and simple.

Consider Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus. All three were close friends of Jesus. At one time, there was a gathering at their house; Martha was handling preparations but Mary was just sitting there listening to Jesus. She was just hangin out. Martha complained,"Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.". But Jesus said, "Martha, Martha,you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42)

So ... Mom chose the better part, hangin out with Jesus, and it won't be taken from her.
Well done.


The best we do in life is leave a legacy.

I spoke with Barbara Hantel (cousin) the night before the funeral. Mom's passing hit Barbara particularly hard. She told me, "You know, she wasn't always a goodie two-shoes.", and then shared a glimpse from their childhood. Barbara would be at Helene's house and Helene would say, "Come on, let's go see Grammy.", and then
proceed to work the latch using a broom handle.
Mischief like that makes a treasured memory.

Her impact on my own life is profound and eternal. She and Dad came to Christ in their 30s. Naturally, they wanted my sister and me to have the same saving faith. One thing to that end was a weekly Bible club held at the home of Larry and Carol Graham. Being the pre-teen with attitude that I was, I didn't want to go. One Friday I was giving Mom a hard time about it.

"You don't have to accept Jesus Christ,
but you will understand. Now get in the car!"

I went, heard, believed, and was saved and changed. I can't in any way pay that back nor even return the favor. I can, however, pay it forward by getting the Gospel to my friends and family, even when they don't want to hear it. In other words "not shrink from declaring". (Acts 20:20)

Trying to finish this, the emotions return.
As I type, it's just past midnight, so it's already December 1st.
Where does time go?

looking back

It's interesting to see God's hand in all this.

My boss offered to take me from contract to permanent. That went into effect the week before Mom's passing. That meant that I was not dinged for the time off.

The kids had no classes on Thursday or Friday the week of the funeral, the exact two days we needed.

I had gone to Chicago to train new recruits at a business partner and stopped overnight in South Bend. Saw Mom. (And Dad, of course.) She was "with it" that day and knew me and introduced me, "This is our son.".

We had some good time with Mom and Dad this past summer. At first I was angry (at the disease). She was usually all there, but more frequently disconnecting (always brief). But I resolved to treasure what time we had.

The four of us went to South Bend, partly to help prep the house for sale. Marilyn stayed an extra 10 days and helped with arranging care. Then she drove them to Grove City while Scott and Diane moved furniture into the new apartment.

Aunt Carolyn (sister) visited them in September. I got to see her and also spend the night at Mom's and Dad's apartment.

There were countless other things, most I don't even know. We are blessed.

Then came October. We gathered again in South Bend. At the end of the day, I hugged Dad. He said, "Today was a good day."
We are blessed: sad, but thankful.

Other than the funeral, I did not yet publicly say goodbye. So that's the purpose of this post. Mom consistently ended a visit with, "Here, there, or in the air!". Since she's done with the "here" venue, I'll quote what I heard from a 1970s Christian comedy troupe, "See ya there, or in the air!". 

-- R; <><


  1. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family

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  3. I, too, offer what ever I can to help you ride out these unhappy waves. You were indeed blessed.