Yesterday, after a long decline, my mother died.
Mom was the least healthy the four parents my wife and shared. I can't remember a time when she wasn't sick, yet she outlasted the other three. She spent more than a 1/4 of her life a widow. Most of that time she was my nearest neighbor, living in an apartment my family was able to build for her.
September 30, about 12:30 PM Irene Merrell opened her eyes. She saw clearly for the first time in a number of years. Not only did she see, she also comprehended with brilliant clarity all that she saw, heard and felt. All at once the cruel hand of the dementia that had caused her world to grow ever smaller and dimmer—taking away her independence, then her recognition of others, command of words, even her self-awareness, and, finally the ability to do vital tasks like swallow a sip of water—released its grip on her in one liberating flash of deliverance. In an incalculably brief moment she became not only all that she had ever been, but more. Eighty-five years after her conception she became all she was meant to be. Irene was with us for eighty-four years
I think she first saw our Lord. She had been born into His family when she was still a child. Now she was born into His presence by angels sent to bring her home. I don’t know, but I’d like to think she saw Doc Merrell a moment later. He stands strong and erect. No Parkinson’s stoops his frame or brings tremors to the hand that reached out for hers. His playful grin shows the gap in his teeth. Her eyes have a sparkle that has for so long been missing.
Irene was known by many names in her life. Madge and Luke Hargrove called her Daughter.
Elene, Clara, Ray, Lena, Ruth and Jim called her Sister. There was no doubt she was Doc Merrell’s Sweetheart. Howard, Ted, Judy and Carol called her Mom. To Chad, Chris, Leslie, Audrey, Stacy, Joy, Jayne, Dawn and Mitzi she was Grandma, and to the next generation she became Gooma.
In eternity God’s people will serve Him, a task Irene was accustomed to. While yet a teenager she taught Sunday School, a ministry she continued off and on for more than half a century. She exercised the gift of hospitality and used her sharp mind to keep the books of one church. Her little crocheted angels are literally around the world. She died having no treasure here and much there.
Irene’s desire for her funeral arrangements can be summarized in four words, “What the children want.” In keeping with those wishes we will bury mom next to dad in a private graveside service and then honor her at a Memorial Service Thursday evening, at Covington Bible Church, 2140 S. Carpenter Drive, Covington VA 24426. The family will be at the church to receive friends at 6:30, the service will begin about 7:30. Mom desired, and we children concur, that in lieu of flowers donations be made to IU Goshen Home Health Care & Hospice, 200 High Park Ave, Goshen, IN 46526, or Covington Bible Church.