We've heard it said and often find it true:
You don't know the value of a treasure until you're without it.
We take for granted the things in life that seem so readily available.
A paperclip or rubber band, to hold things together.
A tissue or napkin, to wipe our nose to clean our face, to absorb our tears.
A Bible to speak words of wisdom and instruction and life and love.
And a Mother, who is all these things and more.
She is readily available.
She holds things together.
She wipes our nose, cleans our face (and our fingers, and, well…everything else!)
She absorbs our tears and calms our fears.
"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)
Within hours after my mother passed into the gates of our heavenly home, I was missing her. Her quick wit…humor…charm. Her warm smile and melodious laughter, which served her well to the very end, as did our Lord Jesus Christ, who so graciously allowed her to slip quietly and peacefully into His arms.
She simply stopped breathing.
As I stood at her bedside in those priceless moments after her passing, I wanted to touch her skin as much as possible while there was still warmth in her body; to nuzzle my nose against her head and breathe in the scent of her hair while she was still there. Priceless treasures I was guilty of taking for granted, clouded by unmet needs. I was so consumed with what she was not, that I never fully appreciated who she was. It’s like I was blind, but now I see!
I see her strength, her commitment. Her perseverance…sacrifice…her unspoken love. I see how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her.
She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.
“Her children stand and bless her… a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (vs. 31).”
This last verse of the poem serves as an epitaph for the woman of virtue. It speaks of the legacy she leaves in her passing. It spurred me to write a personal epitaph for my mother, which I read at her funeral.
We publicly declare your praise today,
and in the days to come,
for you deserve to be praised and blessed,
"We honor you, Mom, for all you have done!"
In my earliest of memories,
You worked so hard, striving for the rest.
You persevered through great trials
and did your very best.
I know you are being rewarded
in ways far beyond our reach.
We honor you now by practicing what you've taught,
and even what you preached!
You've stood for us for all these years,
Today, we stand for you!
I pray that our applause on earth
will reach your heavenly ears.
With the reading of this poem, I asked everyone to stand. We clapped our hands in celebration and praise of the life of my mother, Margaret Alice Stiltner.
Imagine our surprise to discover that she had left a poetic epitaph for us! She had clipped it from an old magazine and framed it. I found it when I was cleaning her home, on a nightstand by her bed. My mother was never versed at expressing emotion. This was her sweet way of kissing us good-bye: a priceless treasure to remember her by.
www.WovenWomen.blogspot.com and www.CynthiaStiverson.com