This is a very long post, intended for those of you who knew Grace (Marie's mom) or knew of this incredibly giving woman. Thank you so much for the prayers that were sent upward on our behalf. This has been a tough but sweet time.
We also share this letter to encourage all of us for the time when we will face the death of a parent -- and of God's faithfulness to meet all our needs.
(First, you will want to read both "Grace" posts below if you haven't already.)
Monday, 6:15 p.m., Grace celebrated eternal life in her new home in heaven. Her life was triumphant and now she has her reward. Grace would want to share with each one of you that she loves you. She was surrounded by your prayers and her family at the time of her passing, and now she is truly experiencing her special word -- JOY!
Sunday night, as Grace's body began to shut down from the cancer, the nurse let us know Grace had only a short time. (This was more sudden than any of us expected.) The hospital graciously arranged for her to have a single room, and even moved in a second bed for family to use through the night. She was less and less responsive but seemed to appreciate the worship CDs that we kept playing. One of us sang simple songs to her -- she showed that she heard them by responding with a tear. We stayed close by, often holding her hand or touching her gently. She would slip in and out of responsiveness -- at times mouthing "I love you" to us.
Each of her extended family was present with her in spirit. At one point, when she was awake, we sent her love from each one and released her to go home. As we said each name individually -- children, grandchildren, sisters and brother, cousins, nieces and nephews, etc. -- she listened intently and responded with little nods.
She seemed ready to go, yet was waiting. Monday afternoon, stepson John Richard arrived, representing the Peleaux side. Amazingly, Grace gained awareness just before he arrived and they were able to communicate their love to each other. Then she was ready -- and quietly breathed her last breath.
Several nights ago, while watching Mom and thinking she was close to death, I (Marie) thought of the analogy of running a race. Mom's life was her race, and she persevered despite many difficult circumstances. She triumphed through divorce, death of a young son, and disease (both her husband's and hers). Now she was on the home stretch. I imagined the crowd standing up as she neared the finish line. They started to cheer -- and went wild with excitement as she crossed the line and faithfully finished her race! She did it! I think that the angels in heaven were watching her as she neared the line, and as she approached the end of her race, they started to cheer wildly. Grace had triumphed! She made it home! How can we not celebrate with her?!!!
Grace always celebrated life not death, looked forward rather than dwelling in the past, and gave generously and encouraged us all to do the same. She was an incredible care-giver and would want us to celebrate with her now in a way that encourages each of us to live a similar life.
Reflecting upon this, Grace's daughters (Naomi, Elizabeth, and Marie) want to honor her desires. To make it more convenient for family and friends, there will be two memorial gatherings for Grace. This spring, when new life is budding forth, we plan to hold a celebration of Grace's life on earth and of her new life. This will be in northern Minnesota, where she felt so much at home for so many years. We know that like a butterfly, she is now in her full beauty in her true home in heaven. Grace desired that upon the death of her body (her cocoon), her ashes would fly freely in the wind. We want to grant this wish to her in the place she so loved in the Minnesota woods.
For those who are local to Rolla, there will be a small memorial gathering, a celebration of life, with a special welcome for families with children. (Grandma Grace loved kids!) In keeping with the theme of celebration, we have encouraged attendees to wear the colors of life rather than black to the service and to come prepared to share Grace's favorite word -- JOY.
Grace faithfully supported Bible translation for 15 years. Rather than flowers, and in the same spirit, gifts to Bible translation would be a fitting memorial for Grace. Gifts on Grace's behalf may be sent to:
God's Word for the Nations
PO Box 1259
Rolla, MO 65402
Please indicate "Grace's Memorial" on the memo line. God's Word for the Nations supports Bible translation work in more than 50 languages of the former Soviet-Union.
You can read more about Grace and her short but courageous struggle with cancer at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gracep