Monday, August 03, 2009

In Jesus' Arms. . .

It is through tear-filled eyes that I am attempting to put this post together.

My sweet husband was three hours from the hospital when he received the call that Jesus had called his precious mother home.

Thanks so much to those who prayed.

But, you know what I know without a doubt?

I know that she knows.

She knows her big boy loves her because he told her over and over and over and over while she was with him. He loved her well, and I have been blessed to have witnessed that love in action as he cared for her each weekend over the past few months.

I'll never forget watching him walk into her hospital room and take command. He'd open the blinds. Talk to her sweetly. Do his little physical therapy routine on her while I constantly assured her that he loved her so much and that is why he was working her so hard! He'd ask her 100s of questions to check her memory. Watching him look her over with a doctor's eye. Watching him spoon feed her and clean her up. Yes, he loved her well.

Her children arose and called her blessed. She couldn't have asked for more.

I think the thing that makes me the most sad is when I think about how little of her my sons will know. Joshua will remember the most, but even he has a mere 6 years worth of memories. It just makes me that much more determined to keep her memory alive.

Who was she, you ask?

Oh, do let me tell you a bit about her. . .

We are blessed to have walked with her. Her heart was pure and selfless. Her hands were those of a servant. I have met few like her on my journey thus far. A humble, beautiful soul.

She loved me for who I am. She never thought I, or anyone else for that matter, needed to be anything or anyone other than exactly who they are. She loved with every fiber of her being. She gave the most amazing love pats. She could pat legs like she could beat eggs ~ with amazing wrist power! She was something special. Brutally honest. Always saying exactly what she thought. She told my parents the first time ever she met them that "Jimmy and I are praying Erik marries your daughter." Erik and I had known each other only a few months, and my parents were flattered but a bit surprised! The best was when she told Brother (Sean) that he looked like George Castanza! She was a great lady. But, the most remarkable thing about her was the way she believed in those she loved. For instance. . .

She thought I could do no wrong ~ even though my inadequacies were ever present and unfortunately quite obvious.

She thought I was a wonderful mother ~ even when she witnessed me losing my temper with her beloved grandsons.

She thought I was a great cook ~ even when I made a complete mess of dinner.

She thought I was a precious wife ~ even when she watched her son carry most of the weight.

She thought I was a wonderful housekeeper ~ even when there were cobwebs in every corner of my house and crumbs all over my floors.

She thought I was tiny ~ even when I was 9 months pregnant with my fourth son.

She thought I was a great writer ~ even when I couldn't put two thoughts together to save my life.

She thought I was organized ~ even when my counter tops had clutter piled to ceilings.

She thought I was beautiful ~ even when I first got up in the morning with dark circles under my eyes and no make-up on my face.

She thought I was a wonderful hostess ~ even when I didn't have time to make sweet tea or change the sheets on the guest bed before she arrived.

She thought I could do ANYTHING that I wanted to do ~ even though I am extremely fearful and consumed with self-doubt.

She believed in me.

She always and only built me up. I could have asked for no more in a mother-in-love. Her faith was simple and sweet. I will miss her something fierce.

I talked to my husband a while ago, and he was in her room saying goodbye. His voice was pure peace, and I can't tell you how it soothed my soul to hear it. He said, "Well, Baby, she is pretty. She is pale, and she is pretty, but she is not here. She is lifeless. Her spirit is gone. She is in Jesus' arms now." Peace. That is the kind of peace that only comes from One Source and One Source alone.

Erik called around bedtime to tell the big boys. I had one on each side of me holding them in my arms. I put the phone on speaker, and Erik began to explain to the boys what happened to their sweet Grandma. The conversation went something like this, "Boys, you know how we are spirit, and we relate to God through our spirit. You know, how we talk about that we are Spiritual beings? Well, Grandma's Spirit went to be with Jesus today. And, now she is well. Jesus gave her a brand new body, and she can walk and talk and do all the things she used to be able to do. And, her new body is even better than her old one!"

Joshua was grinning from ear to ear. He even let out an "Awesome!" as he listened to his Dad talk about Grandma's new body. But, it wasn't until a little later in the conversation when JCT very astutely asked, "So, are you saying Grandma died?" When Erik said yes, Joshua picked up the front of his t-shirt and pulled it up over his face and my big boy's little dam broke. He finally understood that he wouldn't see his Grandma again on this earth.

But, praise God, he will see her again one day!

After the conversation with Erik, I sat on the couch and held my little man as he cried and cried. I couldn't help being so thankful. So thankful that he loved her so much. So thankful that he had such a precious Grandma to love for the first 6 years of his life. May he always remember what a precious and loving lady she was.

Please continue to pray for our family.


by Cheri said...

Erin, This is Cheri Tew. A former student of NOBTS & a friend of Jimmy & Retia. Thank you for this post. Thank you for expressing so well who Retia was. She will forever live in our hearts until we see her again. I can still hear her laugh. That laugh was as unique as she was. We will continue to pray for you and your family. God Bless You.

Sara said...

Went to bed last night praying for you guys and awoke this morning doing the same. You and your family has handled this hard situation with such love and courage. Well done! Love you guys and will continue to pray, pray, pray.

Christi said...

Oh, Erin. We will continue to pray for your family!

Deidre said...

Oh, Erin. I am just seeing this post and the one before. I am so sorry for your loss and will be praying for you and your sweet family over the coming days.

dee said...

Praying through tears. I am so sorry. What a beautiful tribute to her. Your boys will treasure reading it as they grow.

Dear Abbi said...

Oh, I am so sorry! May the Lord continue to wrap you up in His peace and comfort. My husband's grandmother passed away a month ago and the Lord has been so good to us through this time.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; -- II Corinthians 1:3

I am praying for you all!

Susan said...

Erin, I am so sorry. My thoughts have returned often to you and your family since I read this. She was a beautiful woman inside and out, and I only knew her through your words. My grandmother passed away when I was young like Joshua, but my memories of her are so strong because of who she was. I know Joshua will not forget. Our thoughts and prayers are witht you all.

Kelly said...

Erin, I am so sorry for your loss and will continue to pray for supernatural peace for you all. The love that fills your family is so evident, and a wonderful legacy to live on in your boys.

Jenn @ Munchkin Land said...

Oh Erin, I am so very sorry for the loss your family is experiencing right now!! I am praying for strength and peace during this time! May God's presence be tangible in the every day...

ME :) said...

Oh wow - what an amazing post. I am SO sorry for the loss. I will be in prayer for you all - may peace continue to pour down upon each of you. May God wrap you up in His comfort. Sunshine

Sammy said...

I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am for your tremendous loss. Please know that I am praying for you and your family as you navigate your way through this difficult time. I am so sorry.

Mary said...

We are praying for you and your family during this time. Praying that God will grant you peace and comfort.


Cayce's crazy life said...

Heaven is full of brightness, light, and beauty because of all the wonderful people that are there right now! I can't wait to be reunited with many. I pray the Lord brings peace and love where pain is until you are together again.

Rosemary said...

Erin, this is Rosemary Cash McAlister, I was at your wedding and have been a friend of the Dukes since 1983. Jimmy married us and Retia gave me wonderful advice on raising children....the very thing I saw in Erik and Jason as young boys. Your post reminded me so much of chats with Retia at her kitchen table over lunch. Honest but loving. I will miss her greatly. Your family is precious.

Leanne Maples said...

Erin - What a beautiful post about a beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the type of children they raise.....I guess your "mother-in-love" will certainly win a prize for her two special boys. What a great example she has set for you (and the rest of us mothers)! You are blessed to have them and her in your life. I will continue to pray for you and the rest of the Dukes family.

Anna Lee said...

What love - Rita's for her family and her family for her! I witnessed love, strength, and peace through the wonderful writings of the Dukes family. The accident and days since then have been difficult, to say the least, but the way all of you acknowledged God's presence has stirred many a heart and many a tear. He will use your testimonies to reach others for Him! I can hardly wait for the reports of that to come in. Thanks so much to all of you for allowing us to walk with you through this time. God bless all of you.

Sharon Brumfield said...

You don't know me.....just a sister in Christ who has been reading the updates on the Caringbridge Journal. My parents attended the seminary long ago and when they found out what had happened they passed the link on to me here in North Carolina.
I have been praying and reading.
My heart just broke when I read about the home going of your husbands sweet Mom. What a beautiful woman of God she was....loved your words here in her honor.
I want you to know that my heart continues to break for your family....I will continue to pray.

A sister who cares.

Darlene said...

Erin, I don't know if you'll remember me or not. We are members of EAGLE Homeschool group and also, your husband is my Doctor. I had an appointment to see him yesterday and saw Dr. Reynolds instead. I was the next room he came into after Dr. Dukes called with the news of his mother's home-going. Although I did not know her, reading this makes me feel as if i did. I cried the whole way through it. It's beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It is inspiring and makes me want to be a better person. Thank you. Please know that your family is in our prayers.
Darlene Shook

Jenny said...

So very sorry for your loss, Erin. So thankful for the hope we have in Jesus! I will certainly be remembering your family in my prayers!!

FaceforGrace said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post. I will continue to pray for you and your family

Marnie said...

Thanks for this post Erin! My husband & I are friends of Jen & Jason's. I got to know just a smidge of who Retia was after they moved here to Orlando. In that short time, I grew to love her. Thanks for letting us see Retia from your eyes. She was so special!!! We're praying for you all!
By the way, you have an amazing gift for writing!!!

Manda said...

Oh, Erin, what a beautiful, beautiful post. I hurt for your family this morning over the loss of such a godly woman. I'll be praying for you often.

Ellen said...

Erin, I don't know you at all but love to read your blog. You are so genuine in your faith. I know the Lord will hold you and your family up during this painful time. I will pray for his peace to surround you all.

Bev said...

Erin, Praying for your family, and even especially for your little ones there who are already missing her so. Your post was a tribute to your mother-in-love and a great guide for what we should all be aiming at with our daughters and sons in love.

Erin @ Closing Time said...

Oh Erin, I am so sorry to hear this news. You are in our thoughts and prayers! We love you! :)

Linda said...

Erin - I am so terribly sorry. For some reason your posts haven't been showing up in my bloglines, and I finally decided I'd better check on you.
I will be praying for all of you. I don't have words.

Kelly said...

Just felt that I needed to stop back in today, as you were heavy on my heart, and let you know I am praying for you. Praying for your boys, both your little ones and your husband, who was so clearly devoted to his mother. So sorry for this loss, and the Lord put you on my heart again today. Praying peace for you all.

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

Definitely praying.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

Praying for the Lord's peace and grace to cover your sweet family!

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Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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