I’m officiating at mom’s funeral Friday. Here is part of what I need to say:
On behalf of my mom, I’d like to thank you for being here today. She was a friend to many, and many are here today to honor her. And I honor you, for your faithfulness to her, your love for her, and your care of her.
In particular, I would like to thank the good people of Calvary Baptist Church who honored her as a pastor’s wife, long after the pastor left. Your continued financial support reflects a people of character and purpose. Our family will always be in your debt.
And I’d also like to thank a multitude of caregivers, among whom are Bob, Anne, Bill, Karen, Jennifer and Tracey. And Regina and Shirley, with Hospice of Jackson. I’m not sure it takes a village to raise a child, but I know by the end it took an army to care for mom, and I thank each of you.
And in a situation where much honor is due, as the first born and only son of a southern matriarch, I’d like to say I clearly know when I’ve been outranked. And so before we honor my mother I want to honor in particular four remarkable women who touched her life.
One of these is Joyce Riley, the wife of my dad’s best friend Dick. If Dad and Dick where companions in ministry, Mom and Joyce were companions in crime. Whatever it takes to be a pastor’s wife, they did it more or less together for over 50 years. Dick prayed for my sisters and I, and our children, by name for all that time. The relationship between our families is rich and meaningful. Thank you Joyce for sharing our journey.
My Aunt Mary is also here today. She has been a stabilizing force in our home before we even had a home, and I can’t imagine all the trouble she must of kept mom out of growing up in Naples. Mary has been the model of a big sister- faithful in her care and concern, gracious in her forgiveness and patience. Whenever I think of a true Southern lady, I think of my Aunt Mary and her remarkable grace.
My wife Katie is a Yankee of course, a fact mom eventually was able to overlook. In the first three years after dad died, Katie made over a dozen trips here to care for mom, sometimes two or three weeks at a time. For the last ten weeks Katie has ministered to mom’s physical needs as faithfully as she did for her own mom. In fact, mom was the fourth elderly person we have cared for at life’s end, and Katie’s is an uncommon grace. Care giving is her vocation, a reflection of her giftedness and calling. Thank you so much, my dear friend, for your selfless care of my mom. And of me.
Actually, caring for mom since her stoke ten years ago has been a vocation in itself, and since long before Dad died my sister Toy has served mom with unfaltering devotion. This goes far beyond checking the mail, maintaining the house, feeding the animals, paying the bills– all the things we might normally expect and in which Toy and her family have been faithful. Mom was a woman of immense emotional range, caring deeply and passionately about the hurts of others, both real and imagined. When she had exhausted herself in caring for others, Toy cared for her. It was exhausting work, refilling the cup of mom’s emotional reserve time and time again. Throughout this long ordeal, Toy has called mom her hero. But for her faithfulness, Toy is a hero in her own right. And I honor her this morning.
These four women are faithful players in a cast of hundreds, including three children and their spouses, a dozen grandkids, and everyone here this morning. Each in their way and in their own time has played a part. And now the curtain has fallen, and we are about the business of striking the set.
I applaud you, for whatever role you’ve played.
It’s been a great show.