Let me introduce you to my mother-in-law, a godly woman. She went to be with the Lord recently. May I invite you to greet her by way of the eulogy I read recently at her funeral in Kennetcook, Nova Scotia, Canada?
The Lord called Gladys home in spring. She told us awhile ago she was looking forward to spring with such anticipation so she could hang her wash out on the line.
But now Gladys is in God’s eternal spring. I wonder if she’s looking about for the wash to hang out to dry. Could be for Gladys was never one to be idle.
I recall Heidi and Brett’s wedding reception. There was so much to do — putting up tables, placing the chairs, decorating the tables, pushing the broom, throwing away trash, seeing that the table candles were all straight in their holders. We worked into the night — after midnight.
Naturally Gladys was there in the center of things. "Aren’t you tired?" we’d ask. She’d shake her head No as if to say, "Don’t even think of it. There’s work to be done."
But now the work is over and she is with Jesus.
Jesus, of course, was always the focus of her life. Everything revolved around Jesus. She lived the Christian life in a most unique fashion — humble and yet with conviction, deep and strong, knowledgeable, and yet not showy at all. She was a truly multi-dimensional individual who still maintained one primary reason for being — serving Jesus.
If she could serve Jesus by playing the church organ, then that’s what she did, up till even after Easter Sunday last — her 88th birthday, interestingly enough.
If she could serve Jesus by organizing the church choir faithfully for the Sunday anthems, then that’s what she did — exceptionally well. Always to be counted upon. Always providing the finest — for of course it was in service to her Lord.
If she could serve Jesus by baking a pie, then that’s what she did.
Whatever Gladys did was done with a smile. And with that smile a slight nod of the head, as if to say to any of us, particularly if we were in trouble, "It will be all right. Just have faith in God." The smile said it. Once in awhile she would add to that smile a brief inspirational thought or two — helping us on our ways, believing that if she could weather life’s storms, we could, too.
Wherever Gladys went, people fell in love with her, though she was not the huggy kissy kind. They drew from her a special love — it was regal, it was warm, it was genuine and of Christ.
She also drew from others such a high respect. She had a presence about her. I liked to watch her enter a room — stately and with womanly grace, yet with a quiet humility, always mannerly and attentive to others in the room. And when she entered the room, there was always a smile. I have often told her that she is the most positive person I have ever met.
It was during this past year that her Christian witness was the most sterling. She came to know that she had cancer. She nodded her head and said to the doctor, "Well, may it move slowly." That was it.
She had things to do. There was an organ to play. There was a choir to organize. There were meals to get. There was a winter to see through. And there was coming a spring that called for the wash to be hung out on the line.
Since being told that she had cancer, we never heard a complaint. We never dealt with an unruly senior citizen. We only knew a stalwart, courageous Gladys who kept her sights on Jesus.
She knew where she was headed, but was in no particular hurry to get there. Like I said, spring was coming and there was a wash to dry.
In that strong faith of hers was a powerful strength she shared with her immediate family as well as community folk. We all drew from her example.
In that is probably her most admirable quality: she taught all along how to live for Jesus, and she has taught us how to leave this earth — holding the hand of Christ.
- J. Grant Swank, Jr.