Summary: The message delivered at the funeral of Jean Light (1925-2003)
I have got to tell you my favorite story about Jean Light.
It was about his time of year – 2 or 3 years ago and it happened when both my family and the Lights were all still living in Miami.
I was in the den watching television and the doorbell rang, and my son went to answer it.
A moment later he came in holding a big fruit basket, telling me that Jean and Gordon Light brought it by as a Christmas gift.
“Why didn’t you invite them in,” I asked him.
He told me he had, but they didn’t have time to come in because they had to rush to the Associate Pastor’s house to give him his basket of fruit, and then they had to go to the hospital.
Now you have to understand something about my son. You don’t have a conversation with him in which he tells you a story – it’s more like a police interrogation – you have to pull the information out of him.
I asked him why they were headed to the hospital.
He told me it was because Gordon was having a stroke.
At this point, I thought my son was making all of this up, but sure enough, Gordon was indeed having a stroke and they were on their way to the hospital.
But on their way, they had to make sure to stop by my house and the house of the Associate Pastor to deliver our gifts.
Jean was an amazing person. She was always taking care of others – and she could take care of the little things like a pastor’s Christmas gift, and at the same time take care of major things like a stroke.
I have rarely met anyone more amazing that Jean.
I have had the honor of knowing Jean for about 8 years. I was their pastor in Miami, Florida. I think they were at church every single Sunday, except when one of them was very sick and simply couldn’t make it.
And I don’t mean a slight head cold – it always had to be something major to keep them away from church.
Both Gordon and Jean were active in the church – but they were always active in everything.
I remember one time Jean was telling me about how busy she was at work.
Work? I looked at this woman and I knew what her age was at the time and I knew she was well past any traditional retirement age. But retirement wasn’t in her dictionary. She finally did retire 2 years ago, at the age of 76. When she told me she was retiring, she really didn’t seem that happy about it. So I guess I should not have been surprised when a few weeks later she told me she had started working as a school crossing guard.
I thought I had said my final goodbye to both Jean and Gordon back in February, when they moved to out of Miami, Florida and came to Marietta, Georgia, where they were going to live very near her daughter Beverly Cusac.
I called Jean and Gordon a couple of times after their move, and was very sad to hear that they were in their new house just a few days and Jean had gotten sick. She had pneumonia.
Only, that wasn’t the whole story – beyond that diagnosis the doctors also discovered she had cancer.
As God’s plan would have it, I soon followed the Lights up here to Georgia, and it was a delight to see Jean and Gordon and their daughter Beverly become, along with my wife, the first members to join the church after I came to serve here at Good Shepherd.
But of course, it was not long before Jean was admitted once again to the hospital.
I don’t know if many people are as blessed with the kind of day that Jean had on Thursday, the day before her death.
She did not feel good. She was weak. She could barely eat. But it was a wonderful day.
What made it wonderful is that she knew she had very little time left.
But she did not despair. She used the time to say goodbye to her friends and family. Those who were not there, she called some of them on the telephone. Those who were there, surrounded her with love and support.
I had prayer with Jean more than once during that day, and at one point we were alone. She and I were in prayer and I asked her if she would like to lead in prayer and she did. There were no requests for healing or for a miracle. Her prayers were those of thanksgiving for the life she had lived, and for the family and friends she had enjoyed.