Today, November 9, 2014 would have been the 86th birthday of Janet’s mother, had she not passed away a little more than a year ago, while Janet and I were celebrating our 40th anniversary away on a trip. Nancy’s death was unexpected – oh, I know that she had been feeling under the weather, but we were not expecting anything like an end of life scenario. Janet’s father had also been ill – and facing far longer odds than Nancy. He outlived Nancy by 18 days and it probably goes without saying that the entire family was reeling from the deaths of both John and Nancy in the early fall of 2013.
I have known both John and Nancy since I was a little guy and I have to admit that even though this was the second time that Nancy hasn’t been alive on a November 9th during my life, I really miss her. I am so used to calling her and extending my warm wishes for another great year that I seem a little lost today. I told Janet when her parents passed away that things would get easier after they had been gone a year, and that has started to happen, but that doesn’t mean that the pain of the loss of a family member is gone. It isn’t.
Another thing that probably exacerbates the sense of loss is that Nancy was such a great person. Whether it was offering me a soft drink as a young teenager when I cut their lawn each week almost 50 years ago or making me feel like a real member of the family throughout the years, Nancy always wanted everybody to win – and that’s rare today. It’s true that in her later years, after more than a decade of being in pain, she became a little more high maintenance. But I have never seen a couple, in the ultimate analysis, more dedicated to each other than my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
I’m not naive enough to think that they never had problems or disagreements – I’ve known them for 55 years so I have seen them in just about every situation. But I have also come to know that the women of this family are stronger than they let on. The men think they go out and slay the dragons every day, but the ladies of the family are the glue that holds everything together. And that’s the way it is with Janet, and her sisters as well.
They are the ambassadors of good will and smooth the rough edges that most of the men create. Nancy was a master at that… So today, we remember a really great lady who I was fortunate enough to be able to refer to as my mother-in-law. And while we aren’t throwing a big party today, we are quietly remembering all the good and decent things that Nancy did throughout her life. A wife, mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother, she touched and shaped a number of lives. And she is desperately missed.
The verse for this evening is a simple one from the 10 commandments. We are told, in Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” That pretty much says it all. It is a mandate of God that we are to honor those who are older than we are and who hold a place of honor in the eyes of God. My encouragement this evening is that God wants each believer to honor those who are in the family of God – especially those blood relatives who helped shape who you are. My prayer is that you have been blessed with the kind of in-laws that I have had throughout the years. It has been a real blessing and I pray the same for you. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…