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Summary: I am deeply grateful to all of you who have expressed your prayers and concerns for our family during this difficult time. Thank you so much for coming to this service and for all that you have done to express your love over the last couple of days – the

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In Honor of My Mother

Patricia Jean Nelson

February 02, 2006

Opening Statement: I am deeply grateful to all of you who have expressed your prayers and concerns for our family during this difficult time. Thank you so much for coming to this service and for all that you have done to express your love over the last couple of days – the conversations, the memories, the telephone calls, the food (I think you knocked at least 2 people off their diets!). In the final hours, we were all encouraged by Cathy, Rosie and Kenneth, Sue and Nancy, Debbie and Loretta and many others.

I also want to thank those who made this service possible. I have often stood before hurting families, searching for the right words and phrases to say to help them process their loss. Today, I am the one hurting and your words have comforted me as well as the entire family. I thank you.

I personally need to thank all of the extended family members. I’ve never walked through the valley of the shadow of death with someone as closely as I’ve done with mommy. It was such a unique experience. There would be a gathering around and an anticipation of the final moments as we literally counted the labored breaths, held her hand, hugged and kissed her, and shared our assurance of love to her. Then, as if it were all too painful to bear, someone would share a memory, and for a few moments our mourning would be turned to laughter. All of you helped to create a resurrection atmosphere in the midst of the hurt. I so appreciate the support of all the sister-in-laws and Andrea. And then, specifically I need to say something to my brothers and sister. Randy, thanks for your music and song and for always looking out for our best interests. Becky, what a faithful companion and loving presence you were to the very end. Jeff, thanks for sharing your stories that renew hope and that celebrate the funny things in life. Rob, thanks for your bedside prayer and life of faith that has kept all of us focused.

Illustration: We have to tell you. As mommy died, she really didn’t look like herself. She had fought a long, hard battle. But as we encircled her and continued to talk about her moments after her death, something happened that I believe was a gift from God to us. Her face resumed its normal shape, and she was smiling. Thank you God. She’s smiling at each of you today.

Proposition: I think it’s so important that we do four things in her honor. First, let’s celebrate her life. She was a godly woman who lived a truly good life. Second, let’s be comforted by words found in her favorite book – the Bible. Third, let’s listen to her words and life lessons one more time. Fourth, I would just personally like to share with my Mom a final good-bye.

Celebrate Her Life

Explanation: There are several titles that I think about when I think about celebrating her life.

1. Spiritual Leader. Since 1957, my mother never ever quit on her spiritual journey. I can remember that nearly every night she had a family time. She would read a Bible story, and get us all on our knees afterward and pray for each of us by name. She also loved to read and mark up her Bible. Jeff has shared and we all concur that she was the happiest when we were all loaded up in the car headed for church. I think everyone of us learned how to drive a car illegally while going to and from church. At church, we heard songs, sermons, and testimonies. We’d see her singing with Mitch and Patsy, in the choir, and later in life, heard her and Randy sing some duets that I still remember to this day. At church, we encountered interesting personalities (like Auto Baldwin who pulled the altar over on top of him; or like Desken Kirk and the harmonica; or Dow Kirk running the aisles to the mantra of “Whoopee!”) – all of which gave us a different look at the spiritual life and how it worked in their lives. We made life-long relationships and learned what it meant to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in our lives from an early age. What I personally didn’t realize in all of this was that she was not just leading the family spiritually, but she was preparing me personally for a vocation. I’ve been in the church my entire life, watching and observing, participating and learning. I pastor a church today and have no problem leading in a church setting because of her influence and her indirect training from the time I’ve been an infant. I fell asleep on the pews listening to sermons! She was a spiritual leader.


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