“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.” Proverbs 31:10-15
Love legacies take a lifetime to build, by placing a strategic emphasis on others and the generations to come. For our family, it was no surprise everyone wanted to be a part of my mother-in-law’s funeral celebration. She had left a legacy of love, and the family remembered, and respected, the way she had conducted her life. She would shudder and shake her head to think this column could be about her. Attention would be the last thing she desired.
“She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20
Doris was born on the eve of the Great Depression when the Stock Market crashed, and the banks failed. They say a third of the people were out of work and there were soup lines in every city. Probably didn’t affect her family as they didn’t have much money, and their only stock was a single cow. By today’s standards they were living in adject poverty. As a small child a hungry rat crawled up into bed with her and bit her on the forehead. Those scars compel compassion for the poor.
Even with her experiences as a child and the rat incident, she allowed her daughter to have a guinea pig- hamster type creature she called a fluffy rat. It was no wonder she became unnerved when it escaped the cage.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her:” Proverbs 26-28
Doris dwelt on the acts of kindness she received, focusing on the hearts of those of demonstrated love. She often repeated the story from her childhood about walking to school. She had to cross a large creek on her journey, and when there had been a heavy rain and the creek would be swollen, her “Daddy Pete” would swoop her up into his arms and carry her to the other side. He said, “Can’t have you sitting wet all day at school!”
She couldn’t handle women who were two-faced or talked behind your back. Her name for those ladies stemmed from her experiences as a child. It was her responsibility to bring the wandering cow back to the barn at the end of the day. As always, the cow would be on the other side of the farm, requiring her to tip toe barefoot between cow pies, sticker bushes, and past the sweet honeysuckle. “Aggravating hussy!” This is probably the reason why later in life ladies of a certain disposition were called “heifers.”
God gives us all purpose. For Doris, she was a caregiver. She cared for Aunts and Uncles, mother-in-law and mom, not to mention her son’s children after a car accident. But her greatest act of love was caring for her husband, one surgery after another. In all, he had 30 or more procedures, and countless hospital stays. I am sure she would have loved to see the world, but instead, she showed us the way to love others.
Doris understood the delicate balance between one breath and the next, having watched her younger siblings go home to heaven. She was homesick for heaven, longing to see her family again. As we checked on her that last day, we were focused on things of this world like appetite, medication, and laundry. Almost berating her my husband said, “Mom, they say you haven’t been eating, or out of your apartment for three days?”
In fact, my last words were, “What about your laundry? We can bring it back tomorrow when we visit?” Laundry was the last thing on her mind, she was planning a trip to heaven! All decked out in her best gown, she was taking a nap, waking up in heaven!
And her last words, “Do we have a baby? What are you going to do with a baby! Oh my!”
Baby Eden was born five days later, and she is as beautiful as that Garden of God. While Doris never saw this beautiful child, her impact on the lives of those who surround this child will bathe her with wisdom and love.
“Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31
Doris’ last words touched my heart, just as Eden’s first words will be written down in the baby book. As Christians, we should be choosing our words carefully as all are remembered by God.
Let’s hope we all hear these words one day from God, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”