Friday, November 5, 2010

105, almost 106!

W's Aunt Erna lived to within a few days of her 106th birthday. Yesterday I drove up to Canada to attend her graveside service. Eleven of us, three children, already in their 60s and 70s, a nephew and niece, spouses, a great-granddaughter, my mother-in-law and I. Standing at a little patch of earth to commit the ashes of a retired saint to the ground.

When her children moved her to Ontario 30 years ago, she agreed to go on one condition - she would be buried beside her husband in Chilliwack, BC. Her children honored her wishes. "Mom wanted to go home for a long time. She was looking forward to seeing Dad and her friends in heaven. She wondered why God would leave her and take younger ones with more living and ministry to do."

"She never had a bad thing to say about anyone, in all her years of ministry," said someone. "She was always positive, and that's probably one of the reasons she lived so long."

"She was interested in people and loved to stay in touch," said another. She wrote me letters until she could no longer hold a pen, into her 100s. She rarely forgot a name or person, and her mind was clear and sharp even as her body failed. Auntie Erna kept reading and learning until the end.

"She kept your Christmas cards on the dresser all year," her daughter told me. "You missed one year, and she made us call your mother-in-law to make sure you were ok. She worried that something had happened to you!" (I'd lost her new address when she moved into assisted living.)

I'll miss this lady a lot. She partnered with her husband to plant over a dozen churches for German immigrants to Canada, and was an amazing pastor's wife and mentor to many women in ministry. She also was the last placeholder of her generation in my husband's family, a constant prayer warrior, and faithful Christian. 

From across the miles and through family legend, she set a standard of faith and obedience that calls me into a closer walk with Christ. "Thanks, Auntie Erna. We're happy you got your wish to go home, but we'll miss you!" 

Read more:
*"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!" Job 19:25–27 NEV

*For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Psalm 94:14-15 NEV

*May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NIV

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