Over the past 3 months, we have experienced 5 deaths within our family and circle of friends - 3 of those within the past 2 weeks. These homegoings (as I believe all of these individuals are now home in heaven) have made me stop and ponder how wonderful life is each day. The ages of these individuals ranged from 14-months-old to 91-years-old. I wanted to post a little tribute to these individuals.
First, Robbie's grandmother passed away on January 31. She was 91-years-old and ready to go home to be with her Lord and join Grandpa who passed away in 2006. She had been in failing health the last several years, and while we did not expect her to remain here much longer, the call that she was gone was still a shock to us. We had talked with her on the phone over the last several years but it had become increasingly difficult as her health and memory deteriorated. However, in the 8 years that Robbie and I have been married, we have several beautiful memories of times with her and Grandpa: their two visits to us at our home in Rockwall; Grandpa at the age of 89 attending his first Promise Keepers meeting with Robbie and my daddy; shopping with Grandma for matching "Cinderella" dresses; Robbie and I standing up for them as they renewed their wedding vows for their 50th wedding anniversary; visiting them at their home in South Carolina and creating a 50 page scrapbook commemorating their life together, their family, and their 50th anniversary. She was the last of our living grandparents. I am so thankful to have known and loved her and grateful for the many prayers that she and Grandpa prayed for Robbie (and later for me) over the years.
Second, our dear friend Elaine Kerley passed away in March at the age of 76. Elaine and Felton were members of the Home Group we joined a few months after we were married, and they have remained a part of what I like to call our "core group" of friends, mentors, and prayer partners. Elaine always had a smile! She was a wonderful cook and made the tastiest desserts imaginable. I went by to visit Elaine and Felton in their home shortly before Christmas. Elaine was already ill then, but she still wore a smile and was delighted to sit and visit a while. We miss her the most when we walk in to church on Sunday mornings and her smile is not there to greet us.
Third was the little 14-month-old boy - someone we really didn't know. He was the great-nephew of another couple of our "core group," Don & Becky. I don't know if there was ever a definite determination of what happened, but the doctors thought that it was some type of viral infection. The little boy's father found him not breathing one morning, and while they were able to revive him, he never again gained consciousness before he passed away a few days later. I was heartbroken to hear this news and cannot imagine what his young parents must be going through. I had the privilege of helping set up and serve the after-funeral meal for the family, a large family that has rallied around this young couple in their grief. Our friends Don & Becky have experienced the loss of many close family members over the past 18 months, and it has been inspiring to watch them walk through their grief resting in God's peace.
Fourth was Bob Bevan, the man that brought Robbie to Texas years ago. Bob hired Robbie as CFO for a new start-up software company, SofTechnics, that he began in 1996. This position is one of the factors that launched Robbie onto the career path that he has continued to be so successful at over the eight years since his position at SofTechnics was eliminated after it was acquired by Mettler-Toledo. Over the six years that Robbie worked for Bob, the company grew and Bob grew Robbie's salary and responsibilities right along with it, in the end giving Robbie some of his own personal stock before the final sale. This stock allowed us to pay off debt and take a few years off so that Robbie could complete his degree. Robbie was honored to serve as a pall bearer at Bob's funeral this past weekend.
And fifth was one of my first new church friends after Robbie and I married and I moved to Rockwall, Mary Sooter. Mary was over the Hospitality Group at our church at that time, and we spent a lot of time together delivering meals, writing cards, creating diaper cakes, even cleaning the pastor's home one year for Pastor Appreciation Week. She was only 61-years-old and passed away unexpectedly in her sleep last week. Mary had a true servant's heart and a ready smile.