I said goodbye to my dear, precious Earnie last week. Many of my blog entries have been about the funny things we have experienced living as Mother and daughter in the same house. When God presented me with this opportunity seven years ago I had no idea that the journey she and I would go on together would be just as much as a gift for her as it was for me. I am only on the tip of opening a well of emotion that stirs inside me. My sister put it very well, “I feel like my heart is broken open. With love flowing out.” My hurt over missing her is cushioned by the fact that I know she is with Daddy.
I spoke at her funeral last week. It was my last goodbye. Honoring all that is good about her. Here is her story of the best last week of her life.
Our daddy died two years ago and sadly my brother took his life shortly after that. So, in six weeks time, our mother lost her husband of 64 years and her child. You can imagine her sadness. We were so proud of her bravery. She never complained. She just kept going. This past January, she lost her best friend, Margaret. Margaret was the perfect combination of a confidant, mother and friend. Since Margaret’s death, Mother lost a little bit of her sparkle.
Last week was the best week of our Mother’s life. Sunday, she came to church. She was responsible for the refreshments for her Sunday School class that morning. I could tell she wanted me to make something good because her reputation was at stake. She gave the devotional and offered the prayer in her class. Later that evening, she and Nancy and Jake Jacobs attended an organ concert in the sanctuary.
When she came home from church that evening, she lit up when she talked about how beautiful the Elizabeth Cramer Chapel was, especially the stained glass windows that came from her former church at Westcliff. She said she couldn’t wait for the first person to have their wedding or funeral in the chapel because she knew it would be glorious. Daddy is thrilled to know his beloved Earnestine is “the first.”
On Monday, she and her brother George — whom we lovingly refer to as Uncle G or the G man because we think he is a rock star — took her to the grocery store. They loved those weekly trips to run errands together.
On Tuesday, she was back at church for her Martha Circle. Kay Sherman always came to get Mother for their circle meetings and Mother looked forward to spending time with her and the other ladies in the group. When she got home she told me how proud she was of Joan Morris for being the Circle leader this past year and how much she was going to miss being in the Martha Circle next year.
On Wednesday, Mary Jo Springer picked up Mother and they went to the last Harmony Club meeting of the year. When she came home she looked so beautiful and shared what a lovely time she had.
Wednesday night is pizza night in our house. Mother always looked forward to it and I did too, because it meant I didn’t have to cook. As we were passing each other in the kitchen. She stopped me and looked at me and said “You love me don’t you?” Really emphasizing the LOVE part. I replied, “absolutely” and we hugged. Those were the last words she and I ever spoke to each other.
On Thursday, our Mother died. Surrounded by her family…and a priest. Which, if you want to take me to coffee sometime, I will tell you the amazing side story of how a Protestant family and a Catholic priest met one night. It sounds like the start of a great joke that our daddy would tell. But, I can assure you it was part of an amazing journey the Lord planned just for Mother.
Mother was a faithful servant of the Lord. She started each day in prayer, mediation and study of the Lord’s word. Everyday she would say the same devotional. As Mother’s last gift to you we want you to hear the words of Earnestine’s Devotional.
Best Day of my Life
Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life, ever! There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today; but I did! And because I did I’m going to celebrate!
Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far; the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger. I will go through this day with my head held high, and a happy heart. I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: The morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds.
Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.
Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I will make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know.
Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I’ll tell a child how special he or she is. I’ll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for them and how much they mean to me.
Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and His Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.
And tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures. As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life ever!
The last week of Mother’s life, her sparkle came back. She looked more beautiful and happier than we had seen her in a long time. Now we know that her glow was the light of Christ taking her hand for her journey home. Amen.