As most of you know, my mother passed from here into eternity on March 22, 2016. This is the tribute I wrote and read at her funeral:
Proverbs 31:10 states, “An excellent woman, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”
Today I’ll share with you some jewels that our excellent mother shared with not only her own family but a host of people whom she served.
Faithfulness is the first gem our mom passed on to us. Proverbs 31:11 says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.”
When you talk about Pauline, you’ve got to talk about Ray—they came as a pair. They lived together, worked together, and played together. They not only loved each other, most days they liked each other.
As a teenager, or even as adult when I’d criticize Dad for one thing or another, she always stood up for him and encouraged me to think the best. “Your father is a good man,” she’d say.
And somehow I’d believe her. And she was correct.
The last several years of Dad’s life were difficult, to say the least, but Mom faithfully served him through it all. I’d try to get her to go out with me, but usually she’d say, “I don’t want to leave your father.”
Those who observed our family thought that Mom, or “Warden Wert,” ran the show. But those who really knew us knew the truth—Ray ran the show the show and Pauline did her best to hang on.
And Paula, Paulette, and I are hanging on to Mom’s faithfulness.
The next gem Mom passed on to us is caring. Whenever she visited people or people visited her, she always asked about them individually, remembering the details like the names of their children or parents.
Even in her last days—when thoughts remained difficult to grasp and harder for her to speak, she asked about her children and grandchildren. When they hurt, she hurt.
When word was posted on Facebook about Mom’s promotion to glory countless women who’d been under Mom’s guidance as they grew up said how much mom loved them and made them feel special. For a woman that would stand out in a crowd, had a minimum amount of education, and never signed an autograph, her life made a difference.
I had the privilege of having my parents live in my home as their health declined. One of my fondest memories of both my parents was the morning devotions at our dining room table. They read a short scripture and an accompanying illustration. Then they pulled out their prayer list. The “list” was extensive and detailed. My children often commented on how many people were on the list—they knew each of them by name and when there were answers.
Both mom and dad cared enough to pray. I’m grateful for that.
The last gem we received from our mother was the gem of encouragement. She believed people could be better than they were and not only told them, she expected it.
I think this is what my children will miss the most. When they came home, Grandma was always there and ready to talk or just listen. I’ll probably never know some of the many words of encouragement that went on in her room.
Mom didn’t mince words. She asked the really hard questions everyone else was afraid to ask. Recently, my son came to visit. Knowing we’d been praying especially for him over the last several weeks and months she asked, “How are you, Micah?”
He hesitated for a moment, “I’m okay Grandma.”
Lying in her bed, she straightened herself up so she could look him in the eye. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Mom encouraged me not only by her life, but also by her death.
The last several months, Mom slept perhaps 18 hours a day. I’d go into her room to check on her after her naps and check on her. Sometimes I’d tell her of my very busy day, or complain about something that had gone wrong. Then I’d ask her how her day had been.
As she lay in her bed, after being bathed and changed and fed—eyes half closed she’d say, “Good.”
The Bible says in Psalms 90 to “Teach us to number our days so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
I learned a lot from her.
I’d like to end with 2 short stories.
The first was when my father was still alive. Although he couldn’t walk, they’d travel up the block each evening from our house in Florida. Dad in his wheelchair, mom hobbling along with her cane.
One day as I pushed my father and mom ambled ahead of us, Dad motioned for me to bend listen to him.
“There goes the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he pointed to my mama.
The other story happened about a week before she died. During the cool North Carolina evenings, we’d hoist mom into the chair in our living room in front of our wood stove. On that particular night, I read from the Salvation Army publication the War Cry and then I pulled out the hymnal.
She’d had a few good days in a row and we began to sing.
“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”
She threw back her head and sang along with every word—not in her low, gravely, old-person voice, but on tune with a young fresh sound.
“That’ll be good won’t it Mom?”
She smiled and said, “Yes it will.”
That night as I prayed, I told the Lord that if he wanted to take my mama in her sleep, this would be a good night.
He didn’t. He allowed her to hold on a while so that I held my sweet mama in my arms and whispered in her ear how much we loved her and what a difference she’d made in our lives as she passed from here into eternity.
I began with Scripture, and I’ll end with it.
Proverbs 31:28-31 states:
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her. Many woman have done excellently but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.”