Writing an obituary for one’s mother can be challenging to say the least. Mom was … well … Mom. The first thing she wanted others to know about her was her love for the resurrected Jesus, who in His love and mercy, and by her wishes, brought her home to heaven without a lot of fuss on April 9, 2018. For that we give thanks and praise to God. Those of us who love her also want people to know that she returned His love in ways that were a profound blessing for us, her kids, and all those who knew her.
Mom’s journey began on March 9, 1921, in Jamestown, N.D., during the swinging ‘20s, where life was anything but swinging for a poor family with five kids. Then came the Great Depression. Yet through these experiences, including the early death of her mother, Mom developed resiliency, tenacity, resourcefulness, and determination. During World War II, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and served as a military police officer and staff driver for the base commander. Mom said that if alive, he would probably still remember her driving. While serving her country, she met and later married our dad, Ted, to whom she was married for 56 years. Over the years after Dad’s death, Mom talked about looking forward to seeing him when she got to heaven. We are sure her desire has now been fulfilled.
Though Mom lightheartedly said there were times she wanted to drown us three kids in the river near our house during our early years in North Dakota, she of course didn’t. Instead she demonstrated great love and patience while she and Dad raised us. Above all, she taught us what it meant to know and include Jesus in our family life together.
Did that mean our family never experienced great difficulty and even loss? Not at all. But through the hardships that are part and partial of family life together and the general zigs and zags that occur, her strength and love for God, which the Holy Spirit developed within her, has become ours. For that we are profoundly thankful.
She would agree that her life story would be incomplete without including a bit about her dedication to the church community and its ministry. She loved engaging in ministry in Jesus’ name. Both she and Dad, when he was still living, continued to demonstrate that heart and love for others till the very end. One way they expressed that was to volunteer with Laborers For Christ. Finally, within the context of her final stops, Down Manor and Brookside Assisted Living, both staff and residents will affirm how Mom demonstrated a gift for infusing joy and the love of Jesus into her relationships with them.
Her entire family will attest to the veracity of these words, though Mom would most likely have preferred they not be written — at least with so many words. We wanted to show the extent to which her life had become a tapestry interwoven with Jesus’ love for her and her response to Him.
We, her family together, grieve and celebrate her home-going: Terry Merrill (Peggy); Jeri Rector (Larry) and Jim Merrill. Grandchildren and their families: Eric Rector (Saskia), Nina, Jannik, Joshi; Jimmy Rector (Dawn), Lane and Case; Christy John (Jason), Lynnie and Nicoa; Alyssa Penicook (Dave), Molly and Katherine; Timothy Merrill and Ira. Those who loved her include her niece, Carol Yokum (Harvey), and former daughter-in-law Donna Seaton. Rejoicing with Mom in heaven is husband Ted, son Jim’s wife Kathy and their two sons, BJ and Chris.
Mom adamantly specified that in lieu of providing flowers that fade away, you join her in ongoing ministry by helping disadvantaged Guatemalan orphans. She invites you to send a generous donation to Child Beyond International, 305 Ninth St., Hood River OR 97031, or through their website, Childbeyond.org. Child Beyond is a ministry begun and supported by Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hood River.
On April 21, 2018, you are invited to help us celebrate Jesus’ presence in Mom’s life and His faithfulness to her at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 305 Ninth St., Hood River, at 11 a.m. Her body will be laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery with military honors.
Jesus kept the promise He made to her in her baptism — to keep her in this life and to send angels to accompany her to the next. There begins her never-ending life in the glorious presence of Jesus as she awaits the resurrection of all saints.
Goodbye, Mom. We’ll see you again one day. To God be all glory and praise.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River, Oregon. Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.
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