Remembering a Dear Lady

I was up in the wee hours recently and checked my email. My friend Sherry in Des Moines, who is like a second mother/sister to me, said her mother, Frances had passed away. Did you ever love someone you never met in person? I know what that is.

GreatGrandmafranEmmy knew the lady as Great-grandma Fran. (By happy coincidence, Emmy’s middle name is Frances.) Emily was denied grandparents in her life, but this lady and her daughter, Sherry, took over long distance. Packages arrived every so often from Great-grandma Fran and Sherry. When Emmy was a baby, Fran sent two Beatrix Potter prints for her wall and an antique rug with a rabbit on it she had as a child. The framed prints were the first pictures we put up in Em’s room when we moved. She made the rabbit clothes for Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunnies that she sent. She made little aprons and things for the bunnies. She and Sherry made little beds with blankets for them—an all day project sitting in the garage. I could go on and on. She had a heart for our little daughter, a child she had never met.

I wanted to post the words from her obituary. This lady died surrounded by the love of her children, great-grandchildren and great-great grands. Hers was a life well lived, and a life that LIVED her love for Jesus. You read the headlines about the counterfeit Christians. Please know that Great-grandma Fran (and her daughter, Sherry) represent the real thing. I want to be like them both. Fran is now with her Savior. As Sherry said, “I believe she made an abundant entrance.” Thank you, Frances. Here are the words from her memorial folder. I have withheld her last name.

Frances
1923 – 2016

Frances was born in Des Moines, IA to
John and Gladys. A graduate of
East High School, she married Verne. From that union four children
were given, followed by eight grandchildren,
13 great-grandchildren and five great-great-
grandchildren.

At age 17, Fran received Jesus Christ as her
Savior and she was a shining example living
the Christian life by simple faith. She had a
servant’s heart helping, singing, praying and
loving all along those in her family as well as
those she knew. She gave her time and talents
to anyone in need and enjoyed sewing and
was a great sports fan.

She loved animals and birds especially and
appreciated all the things God created including
rocks and gemstones. She collected bunny rabbits,
teddy bears and anything that was miniature.
Tiny things mattered to her.

Frances read her Bible regularly and lived out the
truths she found there until the age of 92 when she
folded her hands and God called her home to heaven,
standing on the promises of God!

It is written: “The prayers of the saints do follow them.”

Sherry wrote this account of her mother’s life and passing, and she has given me permission to share it.

Mom was 92 years old and lived her life for God, her family and anyone else the LORD put in her path to serve. She was a true servant at heart and wise beyond imagination. She would always say she lived her life simply by faith. She read her bible regularly and went to bed right after supper, spending time first singing the old hymns, with many hymn books beside her bed.

Paula Sue’s dog Brody, a huge blonde labradoodle followed her into the bedroom and sat beside her while she sang her songs. Then she would begin her prayers. She had a long list and would pray every night for each member of her family by name and her she was in constant union and communion in prayer with God. The LORD answered so many of Mama’s prayers. I was thinking that day at the graveside service I was looking at the fruit of her prayers as I looked around at the 35+ members of her immediate family. So many answered prayers. . .she lived a fruitful life.

She stitched and sewed and created so many wonderful things. She loved to make quilts and doll clothes and helped whoever was in need. Mom could take the simplest thing and make something useful out of it. She took simple things and made them special. She was a child at heart and interested in anything miniature. . .

The past year she had not been well. She wanted to go to heaven and talked about it a lot. She had a few health problems but could still take care of herself although she was losing weight and frail. She kept up with her doctor appointments but he thought she was in pretty good shape except for her age. She still attended ballgames for her great-granddaughters the summer before she passed but she was fragile.

I visited her at my sister’s home as often as I could get up there, a couple of times a week and we spoke on the phone every day, sometimes more than once a day. We laughed and prayed and talked about everything, especially family and all their activities. Our family is very sports-minded and she loved to watch any kind of ball games on television. She loved basketball, baseball and all sporting events.
She asked me one day why the LORD didn’t take her. . .she was ready to go home. She was praying about it. I told her the LORD would take her when He was ready for her and when her work was finished. She felt her work consisted primarily of prayer and praise the past year of her life. And she was talking about heaven more and more.

My sister called me the Thursday before her passing and said she had fallen by her bed. I told her to call 911, and I knew in my heart God was calling her to go home. They took her to the ER and I met my sister there. They checked her for injuries and did an EKG. Then they x-rayed her in the bed.

The next thing I knew a surgeon came in and said, “Frances, I need to examine your stomach. . .you have air in your x-ray which means there is a hole in your stomach and it shouldn’t be there. He tried to touch her tummy and it was very painful for her. He couldn’t touch her stomach. She had lost so much weight and her clothes were baggy. She probably weighed about 78 lbs. She wouldn’t let him touch her stomach. He went to get his boss, a tall blond lady Dr. H, a lady. She came in and sat down on a stool by Mom and said, “Frances, are you going to let me operate on you and fix whatever is wrong?” Mom looked her in the eye and said, “No. But I thank you for offering to help me. I don’t want that.”
The woman paused and then said, “Frances, we have four cups of Sprite here and we have poured some contrast dye in them. . .would you drink as much as you can so we can get some
pictures to see what is going on?” Mom looked right at her and said, “No. Thank you but I don’t want to do that.”

Dr. H regrouped and began again. . .”Frances, how about if we hang some IV antibiotics and put a couple of tubes in your stomach to relieve the pain for you?” Mother kept her eyes on the surgeon’s face and said, “No, I don’t want to do that but thank you anyway.”

The surgeon looked at my sister and I. She took her time then said, “Frances do you just want comfort care? I could give you some medicine in a drip that would help you sleep and get rid of the pain. . .if you wake up, I will give you more medicine and if you wake up again, I will keep increasing the dose until you stay asleep. Is that what you want?”

Mother kept a steady gaze on the surgeon’s face and said, “Yes, and I will wake up in heaven!”
Dr. H’s face filled with love and compassion. . .she looked at my mom and she couldn’t sleep. Her eyes were brimming with tears and she couldn’t speak. So she reached over the bed railing and picked up my mother’s tiny hand in her hands. She finally gathered herself and said, “Well, Frances YOU are the boss. . .we will do whatever you say!” My Mama said, “Thank you so much..” She had made her decision. She was homeward bound and we all knew it. . .

The surgeon and my sister and I stepped out in the hall. The surgeon said, “That’s it. She has made here decision. No water, no food and there is already a do not resuscitate DNR in place. She is ready to die. We will admit her and begin the morphine drip.” My sister was distressed about the no water but the doctor said it would be fast. . .she wouldn’t be here long and she would be comfortable. My sister was crying but I was certain God was going to take Mama home soon.

We got her settled in a room and they started the drip. It was nearing evening and my brother was called to come and we sat with her. She was quiet. My siblings were upset and I offered to stay with Mom through the night. I wasn’t leaving her alone. Some of the grandchildren came with their children and talked to Mom. She just listened and she could see. She was not in pain. When everyone left, she looked at me and whispered, “Sissy, do you think we touched anybody today?” “Yes, Mom, the lady surgeon. . .” She smiled. I knew she was praying for Dr. H.

They gave her something to help her sleep and she slept most of the night and I kept vigil. My brother stayed the next night. The following morning she was fast sasleep from the meds. We decided to move to hospice, a really nice facility across town. The ambulance came and we went to the hospice. The room was large and beautiful but Mama was asleep and never saw it. It had a fireplace and all the immediate family came and went during the day with their children in tow. The nurses were so attentive and careful and quiet and took excellent care of Mom. They kept her comfortable, clean and bathed and lotioned. My sister brought her favorite teddy bear and a child’s blanket one of the grandchildren had requested to be taken to Mom. . .it was a blanket Mom had given her when she was born, an ABC blanket. We put the bright squared blanket over her with the teddy bear. She was sleeping quietly. I offered to stay with her that night again. I had a book with me, Apples of Gold which I was reading off and on through the night.

About 4 a.m. a nurse came in and asked if everything was okay. I said yes but she was beginning to groan but she didn’t move. I said I thought she was praying in the Spirit. I had heard her do that many times before. The nurse agreed and said a lot of people did that. He nurse didn’t come back in until about a quarter to 7 and she came directly to where I was sitting and reading. “How are you doing?” she asked. Then the groaning stopped. The nurse looked at Mother and said, “I think she is getting ready to leave. . .” She took my arm and walked me over to the bedside. “It will be easy” she said. Mom sighed a little sigh, very gently and the nurse said, “That’s it. She’s out of here.”

Wow! I couldn’t believe it. NO struggle, no noise, just passing through. . .”Oh, death, where is thy sting?” My mother was safely home with Jesus! How grateful I was. . .it was then that the tears spilled freely, tears of joy! I called my siblings and they came immediately. I felt relieved.

My precious, precious Mama. Finally home with her Savior.

My sister and I made the final arrangements. A blue casket with silver trim. Blue was her favorite color. Pale pink Geraldine roses, four dozen on the spray for the top of the casket. Graveside services for 35+ family members to take home, one or two each. It was truly a celebration of life for Mom. No tears there. We all went to Brick Street Market afterwards near the cemetary for sandwiches and malts. Everyone visited and we were happy for Mom.

There would be time to grieve, plenty of time for tears afterward. We were just happy Mom was in heaven.

Her room is empty now but my heart is full of memories of Mama. So many things to remember. I will write them down one day. I can’t do it right now.

Love, Sherry

Time for Some Respect

It’s time for some respect for our bodies as women of a certain age.

The next time you look in the mirror and mourn the changes you see, stop. Really.

I am 45. This body has carried me through all these years by God’s grace.

If I am not as thin as I once was, there’s a good reason for that. This body has given life to four other human beings. It deserves respect, not scorn.

These hands have cared for and nurtured all four of those babies and two more children God gave me from mothers who could not do so. If those hands look like they’re a little worn, they’ve been busy, you see?

If my feet are tired and sore these days and have some callouses, it’s because I’ve been running, for years, taking care of the people I love.

Those laugh lines emerging are proof that along with the tears in this life, God has given joy as well. I don’t intend to erase the evidence.

I don’t care what Hollywood freaks are doing to themselves surgically or chemically to try to retain whatever looks they have. It’s a losing battle in the end.

Youth is a wonderful thing, but the young haven’t lived yet. There are important things they haven’t learned. In their dewy freshness the kids are lovely, but they haven’t been tried or tested. Their wisdom, such as they have, is all theory. They don’t know much yet. I wouldn’t go back.

So, no, I’m not joining in the great Sigh of Middle Age. I’m grateful to be here, and I am grateful each morning for the strength to get out of bed and carry out my responsibilities. This time in our lives was intended by God to be more than one long lament for what is past. We can continue to be fruitful in our lives to His glory.

We can model gracious acceptance of whatever age we are. Our daughters need to see that life as a female is not just one long struggle to retain faded youth. They need to know that our bodies change throughout our lives, and that working within that with dignity and thankfulness is the only right and healthy response.

Thank you, Heavenly Father,
for every breath you give,
for every heartbeat you grant.
Help me to remember that while my body ages,
I am renewed inside, day by day,
As I walk with You.
Amen