Posted by: bellissimanh | November 29, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Hope

After a wonderful Thanksgiving – a true gift from the Lord – we said goodbye to my mother-in-love as she left us to be with the Lord.

Hope was a survivor from the start. Born in 1933, she weighed in at 1 pound, 3 ounces… with a defective heart. The doctors basically sent her home to die. Her grandmother refused to give up, however, and placed baby Hope in a shoebox on the oven door, keeping her warm. Aspirin had just come on the market and the grandmother crushed it and gave a tiny bit to the tiny baby each day. She told no one about this until years later, for if Hope had died, she’d thought she’d be blamed. But miraculously, Hope lived.

She had a wonderful marriage and raised four incredible children. In addition to the four, she mourned the loss of another to crib death. It wasn’t only her immediate family that was touched by her love and generosity, however. Grandma to 10 and great-grandma to 7, but she was also”Aunt Hope” to countless others… and loved by all. She was a deeply loved sister, cousin, aunt, mother-in-law, and friend.  Enveloped by the love of friends and family, Hope lived.

Hope was one of the most generous women I’ve ever known. Through the course of speaking with friends and family members over the past week, I’d guess that about 50 percent of those in attendance at her funeral had lived with her through the years. She just had a heart that took in anyone in need. It didn’t matter whether the need was for two weeks or two years… Hope was there, and eager to do whatever she could to meet the need. She was also very active in her community, anchoring many charities and public causes. Out of the goodness of her heart, Hope lived.

Hope was also a very honest woman. There was no guessing where you stood with her… she laid it all out there. I suppose that was the “Mainer” in her. 🙂 At times it wasn’t pretty, and might not have been what we wanted to hear… but Hope never minced words and she never disguised her feelings in false sentimentality.  And when she told you she loved you… you knew without a doubt that she meant it. The words she spoke, Hope lived.

Hope grew up in the Catholic faith. My husband is thankful for that heritage. As a born again believer, he realizes that all of those years of catechism laid a foundation upon which the Lord was able to build, and it has all contributed to his life in Christ today. After her husband died, Hope became angry with God, and stopped attending mass. Years later, she was drawn to the little community church in her town of New Hampton – a non-denominational fellowship. She attended services there as long as she was able, although in her latter years that became increasingly difficult for her. Regardless, loving God, Hope lived.

Two years ago my husband had the lead role in our own church’s Christmas Cantata. It was called “Foxhole Christmas” and was about a man who had gone away to the war, not really believing in God, thinking religion was fine for women and children… yet in the darkness of a foxhole, with his Christian friend at his side, he came to recognize his need for a Savior, and accepted Christ into his life. At the end of the production, Joel had the privilege of giving the invitation.  In the moments after the Cantata, Hope hugged him and whispered to him through her tears, “I didn’t want to get up in front of all those people, but I want you to know I prayed that prayer with you.” There was no greater Christmas gift that year! And from that moment on, with Christ as her Savior, Hope lived.

Our family hadn’t all gathered for Thanksgiving in about 6 or 7 years, but for some reason we decided to all celebrate together this year. We had a wonderful day, of feasting, giving thanks, and enjoying one another’s presence. After a wonderful dinner we all sat around and played a rousing game of Catch Phrase. With a big smile on her face, Hope laughed her way through the afternoon, enjoying having her family gathered around her. She always was the life of the party. That’s how Hope lived.

“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

John 14:1-6

 

This is our comfort. We know without a doubt that death is not the end. Hope’s life is just beginning, and it’s even better than the one she enjoyed while on this earth. We have confidence and joy not only that her physical suffering is over, but that we will see her again!

As we got out of the car at the cemetery for the graveside service, Noah (who had grumbled off and on through the morning about being bored) piped up and said fairly loudly, “Well… there’s ONE good thing about this day.” I held my breath, praying that he wasn’t about to say something totally insensitive and inappropriate.

“What’s that?” I asked.

I closed my eyes and waited. “Now Nana Hope gets to be with Jesus!” he exclaimed.

*tears* Yes!

 Forever with the Lord, Hope lives!

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Responses

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mother in law! Reminds me of the very nice relationship I too enjoyed with my mother in law. I miss her alot and think of her often.

    Just remember…..you’re not saying goodbye to Hope. You’re really saying….”see ya later.”

    What a hope we all have in Christ. Oh what a day it will be when we will all be reunited with our loved ones. It gives us all something to “hope” for.

    Blessings Heather.

  2. Yes, what a tribute indeed! Thought of that scripture, “We mourn not like those with no Hope.” Thank goodness you had Hope and that you have Hope! -S

  3. I’ve been wondering about you and even thought about commenting or emailing to see if everything was okay. I wish now that I would have. I’m very sorry for your loss, but thank the Lord it is Hope’s gain!

    Praying peace for your family.

  4. What a heartfelt tribute to a mother-in-law. Also, a blessed hope we all have that we will all be together worshiping and prasing the Lord. Bless His Holy Name. Thank you for sharing this tribute with me. And what Noah said is precious also. Out of the mouth of a child comes the simple truth of our reward.

  5. that was sweet. 🙂 i kept worrying about noah’s mouth too, but he did pretty well for not really comprehending the seriousness of what was going on. he’s a good boy.
    love you!

  6. Heather,
    I am so sorry for your loss, please give our love to Joel and your family. How exciting to know you WILL see her again. I am so happy for you for that fact. If there is anything you need, please let us know. Maybe we can just have dinner or something. We haven’t hung out with you guys in forever. Your letter was beautiful and I am glad you guys had such a wonderful Thanksgiving with Hope before she had to leave. 🙂 God Bless you guys.

  7. You’ve been on our hearts all week. My heart aches for you! We love you all.

    Can’t wait to meet Hope someday…can’t wait for that day,
    she is so lucky…she beat me there!!!I’m so glad to know that You and Joel will always be with us forever , and forever is a long time.

    God Bless-Candy

  8. I had the same thought as Alana…hadn’t heard from you in a while and was starting to get a little worried. This post made me cry…and that is not something that I do very often. They were good tears though…we do have hope and that is what gets us through our struggles. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to a woman who was clearly loved by many.

  9. Wow! What a wonderful tribute! We look forward to a wonderful reunion with my father-in-law one day! I really enjoy your blog – keep posting from the heart. It is very inspiring.

  10. What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful woman. How precious that she prayed that prayer that day! Makes me cry.

    It is wonderful when we know that our loved ones are with the Lord.
    Beautiful post.
    Blessings,
    Sue

  11. Your family is in my prayer. What an amazing legacy she has left for you all.

  12. Thank you Heather, you have a wonderful way with words, and a beautiful voice too while singing The Lord’s Prayer at Aunt Hope’s funeral. Although we didn’t see her as often as we’d like, we were fortunate to spend some time with her at your house in October after Joel’s birthday party. She was a grand lady and we’ll miss her greatly.

    Donna and Doug

  13. How beautiful your tribute… you have a blessed Hope.

    Blessed…


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