Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Memorial to Esther Louise Baird Campbell

Five years ago this past Saturday my Grandmother went home to be the Lord. Five years ago today was her funeral. I had a part in the service with my Great Aunt (the adjective has duel meaning) and the same pastor/friend who married Robin and I.

This is a little long but I thought in her memory, I would post what I said at the funeral...

Thank you for coming. We are here to honor and remember my Grandmother. To eulogize means to extol, to praise highly, to speak well of someone. Sometimes that Greek word is translated 'to bless' in the New Testament. You know I think Grandma would be embarrassed by all this fuzz over her. But she is worth it.

I want to read a passage in Philippians. There are three commands, Paul gives to us on how to live as Christians, that I think exemplifies Grandma's life. They are found in Philippians 2:3 and following.

The first is in verse 3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." This is so much like Grandma. Now she had some vanity. She would be embarrassed that her age was printed in the program. One time we had a 'discussion' on whether I should go out in public with a t-shirt that wasn't ironed. She felt it would reflect badly on the family. But she really did nothing out of selfish ambition and in humility always considered others better than herself. I see by your nodding that you agree that she was good, kind, humble. She was generous. I think that word characterized her life: she gave generously. I know she gave to the church, ministries and she faithfully financially supported my wife and I in our ministry. But she also gave of herself to everyone. There was not a greedy bone in her body. She took pride in others. I know she did of me, her grandson and my sisters and my dad but she did of all the family. She was an encouragement to us all.

The 2nd command Paul gives to "look out not only (or merely) to your own interests but also to the interests of others." That was so much like grandma. Now she was not weak or mild. She cared about herself. She always was well-dressed. She was beautiful. She had great joy and was funny. I loved to hear her tell stories and imitate others voices as she told them. But she really looked after others. She was caring, tender, compassionate. She was sweet and loving. She was affectionate to all. She always wanted 'to get some sugar" and when I got to be about Isaac's age at 10, I didn't want my grandmother always kissing on me. But I wish I could get some sugar again. She was devoted to her family and protective. Remember Laura and Belinda, what she would say when we got in the car to leave Rockmart? She would look at mom and dad and say, "Be careful. There's precious cargo in there." I thought she was a little over-protective sometimes. when we spent the night with her, she would always place a chair by the bed to make sure I didn't fall out. One time I was sleeping in that bed of hers that was high up off the floor, remember that bed? I had to be a teen-ager and she put a chair by my bed. When she left the room, I moved it. that night for the only time in my life... I fell out of bed. I never told her. I was afraid she would have come out to Colorado to make sure I had a chair by my bed at night or at least made sure Robin did.

The last command is 'to have the attitude of Christ Jesus...' This is Grandma too. She experienced a lot of hard times in life and I never heard her complain. I think her only regret was that she didn't get her high school diploma. If I remember it right, Aunt Ruth, it was because she had to quit school to get work and help the family. She always sacrificed for others. She worked hard. Mom, did you ever know a time when she came over and didn't say, "Gladys is there anything I can do to help?" She was a servant. Jesus said, "the greatest among you is one who serves". She was the greatest among us and we didn't even know it.

One blessing the bible gives is 'blessed are those who die in the Lord."

Now Saturday when my grandmother passed away she was getting dressed. I don't know why. She got a little confused about time these last few months: calling my dad in the middle of the night or forgetting what day it was. Maybe she was confused. I like to think she wasn't. I like to think that she was getting ready for a reunion... a Baird Family Reunion.

I picture a hillside with a huge picnic table with a large spread and a huge gathering with joy and laughing, rejoicing and singing. Great Grandma Baird is there welcoming another child who has joined the reunion. And there is also her papa, who I never knew, but she loved. She said he was a great man of God. And there's all her brothers and sisters who knew the Lord as their Savior and have on before. There's Grice, Willie B, Vera and Charlie. There's Mary and Leon who died at a young age. There's Tom and Jack. And there are others there. Ray is there and Uncle Charles. My grandpa Carl Campbell. Ane Dad, maybe your Dad is there. Perhaps in his last breath he cried out to Jesus to save him. There's a host of others there too. Family who have gone on before us: Bairds, Dicks, Masks. All those ancestors you have researched, Terry, who knew the Lord.

Sis has come home!

But there's someone else at the reunion. I know He is there to greet my grandmother. Someone she loved though she had never seen: Her Joy, Her Savior, Her Redeemer, Her Lord. The One who died for her. Oh, she knew His presence before but now sees Him face-to-face as He is.

I believe Jesus rose to greet my grandmother. I believe He said, "Louise I have been waiting for you. I have prepared a place for you. It's reserved in your name since you were a young girl and placed your faith in Me. It's your inheritance. Louise, be my bride. Walk down the aisle once again but this time with me. There is no death, or morning or crying or pain. That's all done away with. What was mortal has been swallowed up by life. Rest from your labor, your deeds have followed you." Oh what joy!

You see, in our weak faith, many have said "your Grandmother is better off now." But its so much more true. Sometimes I think we say this when older people die just because we can't imagine life being worth that much. But as a believer, heaven is always so much more greater than this life.

I believe Jesus said to my grandmother, "Well done, Louise. Well done, my good and faithful servant... come and share in my happiness forever. Louise, I see sugar running down your cheek, let me get some."


Joan said...

I didn't remember the exact date -- thank you for this wonderful remembrance of my much-loved "Aunt Sis"! Mother mentions her very frequently to me!

Joan said...

Andy, I appreciate your posting your remarks from that day. I know I heard them then, but so much is lost in the emotion of the day, that we often don't really hear all that is said at a funeral. I am glad to have had a second chance to hear your very true and encouraging message.

Belinda said...

Andy, thank you so much for posting this in memory of Grandmama. She was all that and more. What a beautiful tribute. And now Don has joined the family reunion. What a glorious day that will be! Love, Belinda