Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Son's Funeral Tribute to His Mother

I recently attended the funeral of a woman who's son is a member of Redeemer. Lyle Burton gave me permission to post the remarks he gave at the funeral, I found them to be a blessing. I hope they are to you as well.

Funeral Tribute to Mom

While God was growing me inside my mother’s womb, when I first became able to hear, I’m sure that the first sounds I heard were those of my mother’s heartbeat and her voice. So began a lifelong bond with my mother. After she gave me birth, I still listened for the sound of her voice as she tended to literally my every need. I heard her familiar voice as she sang lullabies to me to get me to sleep. As I began to grow, her soft words of encouragement when I was discouraged, and words of comfort when I was hurt or scared, served to strengthen that bond between us. My mother became my emotional anchor and moral compass. She taught me right from wrong and taught me about Jesus. She also taught me about responsibility and even how to wash dishes, do laundry, and cook. If I got up sick in the night, she was up too, without my even having to call out to her. It was her hand that I felt on my back or on my forehead and her comforting voice in my ears.

When I became a teenager, her voice was sometimes filled with words of disagreement as I was pretty sure I knew it all. When I became an adult, I realized that I actually didn’t know it all, and turned to her frequently for advice about every day issues of living and answers to questions about what to do about a baby’s fevers or tummy aches. I heard her familiar voice singing those same familiar lullabies to my children and nieces and nephews and eventually my grandchildren.

In the year since Dad died, I called her more frequently not because I needed something, but rather to hear her voice tell me she was okay or to find out if she needed something. In the last few months of her life, it was her voice telling me that she needed help because she was in terrible pain and didn’t know what to do, or that she was too dizzy to get out of bed and get to the bathroom and needed help. In the last few days of her life, it was her voice telling me that she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to eat, and me telling her to please eat her dinner.

Well, her heartbeat and her voice are both silent now, and how I wish I could hear them again. About a year ago, my Dad died very suddenly, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye or to have any final end of life conversations. I count it a blessing that last week she asked me if I had anything to say to her. I said “yes, I do”, and we had a very nice conversation in which we got the opportunity to tell each other good-bye and that we loved each other.

I’ll tell a story that I’ve shared with some of you about something that happened the last week of her life. When she had refused the dialysis and knew that she was going to die, she was planning what dress to wear for burial and some other details. She asked me to find a picture of her showing the way she fixed her hair and take it to the funeral home so they could cut her hair and fix it the way she would want it. I promised her I would. A few days later, she was slipping in and out of consciousness, and my wife Lorie was sitting with her in her hospital room. She woke up and said she wanted to speak to me. Lorie called me and said she wanted to talk to me and I should get over there right away before she lost consciousness again. I hadn’t shaved or showered, but I pulled on a pair of sweat pants and drove over to the hospital as quickly as I could. When I got there, I asked her what she wanted to tell me, expecting some profound end-of-life revelation. She said simply; “don’t forget to take the picture to the funeral home”. I told her I wouldn’t forget. As I look at her body lying here today, she is out of pain, her hair is exactly right, and she looks better than she has for three months.

I have a scripture passage I would like to read that gives us the reason for our hope. It is First Peter, Chapter 1, verses 3-9:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I know my mother is in Christ, so I can now say, To God Be The Glory!

I love you, Mom. I’ll see you later.


Greg said...

I am grateful Lyle has allowed you to share...I too, am blessed, by his spoken and written words...

Lyle said...

Thanks, Tony.

Frontier Forest said...

Great comforting words from a quiet man of grace with sincere heart for encouragement. What a blessing the entire, extended Burton family is. Thanks for sharing.