“A Marriage of 64 years has ended, and a new one is beginning.” Margret May Whitson, May 28th 2017.
Jonathan David Faulkner
The family Matriarch has passed, after 87 years on this planet, loving and caring for so many years and though the last three have been hard, she bore them with the graciousness of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is hard to believe that the last time I saw you was on the weekend I married my blushing bride. Grandpa passed the morning of the rehearsal dinner after making the long drive to Massachusetts from Illinois. It was her words, which grace the by-line of this piece that I remember, even more so than my own wedding vows (do not worry Rachel, I remember those too).
It is hard to believe that she is gone, the last of my grandparents. We grew up going to the farm for family gatherings. Christmas memories come to the forefront, a tree in the living room, running through the snow in the winter, opening presents by the tree in the living room, breakfast cooking and singing Christmas carols at Appanoose Presbyterian Church. Sleeping on the blowup mattresses in the living room or on the floor of the farmhouse before it was torn down.
Summer visits to the farm were always to be looked forward to, going to church with her. I was reminded recently of the rope swings and the “tree house” in the tree in the yard when my daughter tried to climb onto a rope swing that was too high for her as I am sure I once did. We would get up and you would cook us breakfast and we go play or run errands or Sarge would tell us stories.
Then there was college. Sterling was far from home, but the farm become a place of peace and solitude, partly because of Grandma. It was there that I escaped after that fall in 2014, the one that completely changed me and my life. There was no hesitation, when I asked if I could come and rest and heal, her and grandpa did not hesitate to say yes. Not only during that time, I spent Easter there, thanksgiving and other holidays there. It was a home away from home for me and for so many others.
But the thing I learned from Grandma, the thing she demonstrated, was how to care for people like Christ. How many people passed through her home as she did hospice and other medical care. I even recall one family member commenting that she was still caring for people even though someone should probably be caring for her. She embodied, in that regard, Paul’s teaching in Philippians and Jesus words in Matthew. She cared for the sick and the dying with a passion and fervor, a faithfulness that mimics that of Christ’s. On my last visit there right before I moved to the North Shore for Seminary, she took me to meet one of the last women she cared for. Even though she, herself was frail, she cared for those frailer then her. There was little thought to her own needs, but a deep and fervent reliance on Christ.
Margret Mae Whitson was not perfect, no, there were many times both her and Grandpa could be infuriating to us all. But she loved us, and she loved us all well and left in us a legacy that surpasses all the great riches of the richest men in the world. The surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ her savior, and a personal relationship with Him.
She believed, and lived as though she believed, that lived as a man, lived our life, in our skin and become one us of. Then he died on a cross like he said he would, was buried, just as he said he would be and rose again on the third day, just as he said he would. He ascended into heaven and now he sits at the right hand of God mediating on our behalf. He did this not because he considered equality with God, though his to grasp, something to be grasped and instead, taking on human form he humbled himself, taking on the very form of a servant, and then dying on the cross for the sins of humanity. He did it because God loved the world and wanted you to be able to have a relationship with Him through Christ Jesus. Margret Mae believed this, and she followed this path of downward mobility to receive the upward call of Christ Jesus. Now she has received the reward of eternal life and is reunited with her husband of 64 years. You can join her there, the bible says all you have to do confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. If you do that you are free from sins, free to live out the life of Christ for others, just as Margret Mae did.
Rest in peace Grandma, we miss you, but we will see you again.