Beth's Funeral, Talk written by Crystal Spencer
Contributor: Biehnc Created: 2 months ago Updated: 2 months ago
On Monday night of last week I brought some life questions to my mom’s house to ask her. We didn’t know how fast everything would go, but I had been meaning to do it for a year, but hadn’t. I knew it would make her uncomfortable to be the center of attention with these questions. Of course I loved hearing her answers, but she responded to a many of them by saying, “I’m sorry, Crystal. I am just not an interesting person.” But to see the amount of people who are here… Mom, I think a at least a few people are interested in you. ;)
My mom had a favorite place to be and that was home. My mom had a favorite day of the week and that was Sunday. She also had a favorite time of Sundays and that is when all the family would come over for Sunday dinner.
Many of you know where my parents live, just up the street from here, and if you have driven by on a Sunday between 4:00-8:00, you have probably seen all the cars in front.
I want to let you know what it was like to be a grandkid walking up to this house on a Sunday afternoon. When you rang the doorbell, you’d hear footsteps running to the door. Grandma would open it and when she would see your face, she would give you this huge reaction; a smile, a hug, a cheer…she would ask you lots of questions and really listen to the answers. She’d act like she hadn’t seen you in YEARS and yet you were probably there yesterday.
If you looked to your right in the entry, you would see the formal family room with Grandma’s piano. There may be a couple of carseats in there with sleeping newborn cousins.
If you look to your left, you would see the dining room. This room seems fancy because it has a big Crystal chandelier, just like you would see in a temple. There is also a really long white table with 12 white chairs. Grandma and Grandpa painted and pieced together the set to accommodate these Sunday dinners and other family gatherings.
If you head into the kitchen, you will find food aligned on the counter. September was my absolute favorite time of year to eat there because we had Grandpa’s garden harvest, prepared by Grandma. It usually started with chicken and led into potatoes, baked butternut squash, and sliced French bread with butter and homemade raspberry jam. At the end of the line, there would be cold watermelon and cantaloupe in a bowl. It had been cut into cubes with all of the seeds carefully removed by Grandma.
If you walk into the family room, the adults would be in here hanging out. The walls are lined with comfortable couches and recliners. This is that everyone can fit comfortably in the room and visit. The walls have five big frames with a picture of each family. Lots of laughing would be going on in here. If we got Grandma going, her laugh would be the best of them all. There would be a ball of some sort being tossed across the room with an unofficial and never ending game of keep-away happening.
If you walk around the corner, you will find the “princess room” Despite its title and the pictures of princesses on the walls, the room could be fun for boys too with cars, trains and dinosaurs in the closet.
If you go upstairs you will find “the movie room”. This is where you would find all the “big” cousins. A while ago, Grandma put a rod across the room with red window curtains to create the feeling of a stage. The big kids would disappear for most of the night and then come down and beg the adults to come up and watch the “show” they have been practicing. It is usually some type of play or talent show.
Many of you know that my mom suffered from cancer, but not many of you know the series of events that lead up to her passing. It may have seemed very sudden to you. I know my mom wouldn’t want me to focus completely on her sickness because that was such a small part of her beautiful life, but I do think there is some significance I would like to share.
Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma of the skin right before Thanksgiving of 2016. She underwent radiation and that seemed to help.
The following spring she began having pain in her chest and back. She had many tests done, but it wasn’t until September, right after that family picture out there was taken, that doctors were able to spot a large tumor in her abdomen. She wasn’t given much hope about the chances of a long life. She was told that chemotherapy could help shrink the tumor, but that it may come back quickly. My sister-in-law and I were both in our last trimester. I told my mom I would honor whatever decision she decided to make about doing the chemotherapy, but I also told her how much I wanted her here to meet my baby.
Mom decided to do the therapy. After her treatments, they did a scan and saw that the tumor had significantly shrunk and my mom was feeling good! January gave us a lot of hope. She asked me if I would take her shopping one Thursday when my older kids were at school. I was thrilled! We talked a lot in the car about life and friends and the kids.
At the end of our outing my mom said, “That was fun, Crystal! We should make this a tradition and do this every Thursday.” For the first time in about a year, I heard my mom talk about plans for the future. I was so happy. Which is why it made it that much harder about a month later when all of her painful symptoms came back. The tumor was grown again and there was nothing left to stop it. She was told radiation could prolong her life a couple of weeks, but she told us she was ready. She said she wanted us to know she believed everything she had taught us about the afterlife, and she did not fear death if it was her time.
Last weekend she was put on hospice. For that reason, we had special permission to do our baby blessing at home, instead of at the church like we were planning on. My mom showed up at my door looking stunning (some of you may have seen the picture out there) and with a bunch of pink frosted cookies she had made the day before. I literally had to ask, “Wait, now what is hospice?”
The rest of the week, her health gradually declined. She was ready to progress from this earthly state and didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. We had heard that sometimes people seem to “choose” their moment and she was worried she wasn’t doing it right.
By Friday night, she had entered a state that was mostly sleepy and unresponsive. My dad and brothers encircled her and gave her a blessing. In the blessing, one of the things my dad said was:
“You’re hour of passing has been determined. It will be no coincidence. It will be coordinated and there will be a reason for it.“
This blessing us all of us a lot of peace, and I sure it did for my mom too, if she could hear it.
I went downstairs to eat, and when I came back up my dad was sitting at my mom’s side and had his scriptures open, reading verses aloud. I could tell he was flipping through pages a lot and I asked him if there were any particular ones he was looking for.
He said, “Well, a while ago Mom started trying to read all of the references under Jesus Christ in the topical guide. She has made it through about 17 of 18 pages. I WAS STUNNED. I don’t know how many of you know about this, but last year President Russell M. Nelson, the new prophet of the church, issued a challenge to the young single adults in the church to read all of those references in the topical guide. I was inspirited by the challenge so I sent a text to my family with a link to the information. I tried to work on it for a couple of months, but it was A LOT of reading and I haven’t come close to making it through yet.
My mom never said a word to me about working on it. I don’t know when she started, but I do know that her scriptures are neatly marked to check off each reference in the scriptures about Jesus Christ. On this night y dad felt an urgency about her finishing it, so he sat by her side and read them aloud.
I went back to read the words of the challenge and wondered what exactly inspired my mom to begin this assignment. In it, President Nelson said,
“In a coming day, you will present yourself before the Savior. You will be overwhelmed to the point of tears to be in His holy presence. You will struggle to find words to thank Him for paying for your sins, for forgiving you of any unkindness toward others, for healing you from the injuries and injustices of this life.
You will thank Him for strengthening you to do the impossible, for turning your weaknesses into strengths, and for making it possible for you to live with Him and your family forever. His identity, His Atonement, and His attributes will become personal and real to you.”
On Saturday night, we worked on it some more. My Dad, my sisters, and I sat around her until the final set of references were read. We all cried as Stephanie read these one of the final verses:
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: “
Sunday came. I couldn’t have imagined it, but she was worse than the night before. My Dad’s sisters and their husbands arrived and were able to help with the children downstairs while adults went upstairs to surround mom and begin discussing funeral plans. It was within that time that my mother peacefully passed away, surrounded by her husband, and the five spirits she had brought from heaven. We knelt around her bed and cried and prayed and actually even rejoiced at the wonderful lives our mother has blessed us with. We felt her presence so strongly and knew she was finally well.
After a few minutes my dad asked, “What was the time of death?” My sister said probably 6:00. We had reached her “hour of passing” that had been mentioned in her blessing. It was astounding to me because it was the hour that my mother loved. 6:00 on a Sunday night surrounded by family. Not only that, but it was the first hour that her five kids and her husband alone together since she was put on hospice. And that just what we can understand about her hour on this side of the veil… Maybe she was needed on the other side just at that hour for something special as well. ‘
I have so much faith that my mother is well now, free from pain, and happy and able to be assisting from the other side because of her faithfulness while on earth.
I am forever indebted to my savior Jesus Christ because of this and I say these things in his name, Amen.