It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, and I apologize for that! I have been keeping my Facebook page up to date but nothing else…
It’s been a hugely busy time because my darling mother became sick with bronchitis in late May and died two days later on the 29 May 2014, with pneumonia.
29 May 2014
Tonight my darling mother went to meet the Lord she loved at 7.55pm. We were all gathered around her bed and had been singing some of the hymns that she and Dad used to love singing together. Then Penny and I sang the Doxology, which is what Mum sang to Dad as he was dying.
Now unto him who is able to keep Able to keep you from falling And present you faultless Before the presence of his glory With exceeding joy To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty Dominion and power both now and forever Amen
And as we sang the Amen Mum let out a soft gentle breath and died. It was amazing. So very beautiful. I can hardly believe it. She went so gently – just like she lived. She looks beautiful – you’d never guess she was 92. A blue scarf around her neck, and so peaceful. Oh what rejoicing in heaven!
5 June 2014
The last few days have been full of emotion as you can imagine. Family and friends have come to support us; the men folk made the most beautiful coffin for Mum;
The funeral was a wonderful testament to our darling mother who has touched so many people’s lives all around the world. The family all dressed in blue in her honour…she was known as the lady in blue.
How blessed I am to be the daughter of Evan and Leone Harris. When Dad died eight months ago I received a letter from a chemist shop in town saying how much they loved Dad coming in to pick up their medications. They wrote, “He was one of the world’s true gentlemen.” Well, Mum was one of the world’s true ladies. Always gracious. Always elegant. Always kind. Let me share just a few aspects of her wonderful life.
She lived a life of devotion. I sat in bed this morning and dipped into one of her many prayer journals. Every day began with something like: “Good morning, dear Father. Beautiful rain is still falling outside… “My Father, how good it is to have a song in our hearts each morning!” There are descriptions of sparrows, and wax eyes and bumble bees and tree trunks touched by the sun, dew on the roses. And the books are full of prayers and names… I looked up her birthday entry. “Good morning, Father God! You formed me and brought me forth into the world in Nelson on this date 79 years ago. How faithfully, how lovingly you have protected me from harm. You’ve put in my heart a love for missionaries, and given me the gift of encouragement and eyes to see beauty. Thank you, dear Father, for a caring husband, four loving children, nineteen healthy bright grandchildren, and to date four great grandchildren. May all my offspring come to believe in you and love you as I do.”
She had eyes to see beauty in people and God’s creation. Just a week before Mum died one of her carers was telling us that she had picked up a little package of food that Mum had wrapped up for one of the dogs. It was swarming with ants. She took them to the sink and was about to wash them away when Mum stopped her by saying, “Oh no! Don’t do that! They’re all God’s creatures!” Dad despaired of that sometimes! But she was always looking for those who were hurting. Always reaching out. Her own childhood had held deep hurts and sadness as her father had abandoned the family when she was just five. I’m sure her own wounds worked in her the compassion that marked her life.
She loved to sing She had a ukulele which she poker-worked with verses and flowers and butterflies. I always remember her singing her way through countless worship songs that she’d collected into a song book – decorated with flowers and grandchildren’s art work. In the last ten months at Selwyn Park we kept a ukulele there and had so many precious times together singing and worshipping. She’d lift her hands and close her eyes and sing in a high wavering voice. How God must have loved to hear her.
She never said an unkind thing. She was always encouraging, always looking for ways to speak love. Chris disputes this though – not so long ago he told her that her cat was looking quite fat. With a twinkle in her eye she said, “He might say the same about you!” Whenever one of us broke a precious ornament, she’d always say, “Never mind, darling. You can’t take it with you when you go.”
She was an encourager. She knew deep within her being that God had called her to be an encourager. That was what motivated her to draw all her beautiful bookmarks, to write all her letters to hundreds of missionaries, to pour out her heart in prayer for the hurting. It’s what she lived for.
She had a wonderful gentle Irish humour. She’d often have us in fits of laughter. When I told her she needed to take some medicine she’d say, ‘Who says?’ I’d reply, “I says. It’s good for you.” Her blue eyes would twinkle and she’d smile at me and say, “Well, you have it then, darling.” I was about to do an impromptu concert to the ladies in the lounge. Mum needed to use the bathroom, so I said to her, “Shall I go ahead and start?” From inside the bathroom I heard her answer, “Absolutely! Chamber music!”
She was always young. The Bible talks about being full of sap and ever green even in old age. Mum never grew old. There was a youthfulness about her that was fresh and invigorating. A month ago she watched Arlene, a beautiful young nurse, leave the room. She said to me, “She’s so beautiful. How old do you think she is?” I said I didn’t know. “Shall we ask her?” Mum shook her head. Then after a pause she said, “Do you think she’s about our age?” Two months ago two of her grandsons were visiting her with me. And she had one of her ‘brainwaves.’ “Why don’t the three of us each choose one shockingly exciting thing to do; something that will make us feel wonderfully alive, and do it.” What a wonderful challenge thrown out to us by a 92 year old.
She was full of courage Mum was always the excitable one, the dreamer…Dad was the steady one, dependable, strong. You could sometimes be deceived into thinking she was the frail one. And yet she had incredible courage. I saw that when she had her stroke. Her determination to walk again amazed me. And when Dad died we wondered how she would cope. She grieved for him, yes. But she continued to thrive. Every night when I’d tuck her into bed we’d pray together. Her prayers were full of thanksgiving and she always prayed that we’d both wake up happy and bright to face the new day – the day the Lord had made.
She had a deep faith Mum had such a deep faith – a faith that sustained her in an amazing way when Dad died. She never doubted that she would see him again. When one of the staff at the hospital did a standard questionnaire with her, one of the questions she asked Mum was, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ I’ll never forget the smile on Mum’s face as she shared with the nurse all about God’s salvation.
She loved. I have had the incredible blessing of watching my parents celebrate 70 years of marriage together. 70 years! What an example! It’s hard to imagine all the things they must have worked through together in 70 years. They navigated the difficult, painful war years and things weren’t easy. But Mum was always 100% committed to Dad and her children. She loved us completely. I was totally secure in her love.
These last eight months have been a gift to me. I’ve spent hundreds of precious hours with Mum, talking, reading, singing, laughing. Mum has always been like a warm crackling fire in my life – a place of comfort, of love, of fellowship and encouragement. A place where I always wanted to linger. A place where I felt all my cares and worries drop away. A place where I could share my dreams and plans and longings. I’ll miss her so much. But I know she is in a better place now. Mum showed me how to live. And she showed me how to die. Thank you, Lord, for my amazing, inspiring, loving mother.