I wanted to let you know that my mother, Beulah Troyer, died Monday, April 6, 2009, just before 1 a.m. in Fairview, Michigan. She had been under hospice care for just over a week, as she was filling with fluids. She was 88.
Beulah is survived by her husband, Levi, three daughters and two sons and numerous grandchildren and several great grandchildren. Funeral services were held at the Fairview Mennonite Church, Fairview, Michigan, on Thursday, April 9 at 11 a.m. I was privileged to present the following tribute to my mother and wanted to share it with you.
There is no way to sum up a life which has made such an impact on so many people. All I can do is relate some incidents from my own life.
Mom always put family first. I never doubted that I was loved – by both Mom and Dad. Mom was my rock growing up. She was always there. She always listened. She always loved – and gently guided.
One incident I remember of that gentle guidance was a Sunday afternoon when I was supposed to be at youth group. I had been at youth group but ended up with a bunch of kids in my car driving through Mio park. I didn't turn quite quickly enough and scraped a tree. I decided to get it over with and went home to confess immediately. Everyone else waited in the car while I went in and told Mom and Dad what happened. Mom never reprimanded me. She said, "We thought we could trust you." That cut me like no reprimand ever could have done. She demonstrated wise parenting — and in many ways I tried to follow her example with my children.
Mom never tried to clip my wings when I wanted to fly. When I went to Africa (for missionary service), Mom and Dad had to have had doubts and fears. But, they allowed me to make the choice. And I knew Mom was consistently praying while I was gone. Now, I will miss those prayers.
She was relieved when I came back to the States. And she was really relieved when I had Paul in my life. I asked why that was so important that I had Paul and she said because she didn't like me to be alone. That was her mother's heart.
The atmosphere of our home was welcoming. Mom accepted my friends – and never judged. I didn't have friends to stay over, but when they came for the afternoon or even a few minutes, Mom always made them feel welcome.
I never realized all those years ago all that my mother did. She raised five of us kids on very little money. She did without many things so we could have the necessities. She did the washing and ironing, always had a meal ready at the proper time, kept the house spotless (I did not inherit that from her) and often in the evenings made popcorn in that big black kettle. It wasn't until I had children that I realized all these things didn't just happen. Mom always worked and made it look easy. I believe she did it for love.
Actually, I mourned the loss of my mother some years ago. When she could no longer remember things that she cooked often (like how to make knepp soup or even that she had made it). I realized I could no longer go to Mom for counsel and advice and guidance. That hit me hard and I mourned the loss of the mother I knew and the grandma that my sons lovingly remember.
This past Christmas when we visited, I asked Mom if she wanted to go down the hall and look at Christmas decorations. Always ready to go, she said yes. But even with my urging, she wouldn't walk with me. I looked to Dad and he said, "She won't go without me. She doesn't know you." As soon as he grabbed his walker and started to come, she was willing to follow. It hurt that she didn't know me enough to trust me for a walk down the hall. But then I remembered that she would never have willingly done that to me and it was through no fault of her own that she had lost her memory and her ability to comprehend. I readily said a prayer of thanks that she had Dad to follow – even though she didn't know his name, she did know he was "her man."
That lack of knowing me made a recent incident special. My brothers and sisters were all there last weekend. Mom was failing and it was difficult, but I was thankful to be kept informed of her condition. (I knew they had removed the oxygen around noon on Saturday.) That evening, my brother called and asked if I wanted to talk to Mom. I had been praying that I could talk to her some way, so that was an answer to my prayer. There was no guarantee that she would hear me or even know who I was. I wanted to try.
Roger explained that Shelia was going to talk to her – her youngest daughter. I started to talk. "Hi, Mom. I'm sorry you aren't feeling well. I wish I could be there with you. I love you, Mom. (I heard a grunt like she was trying to respond.) I've been thinking of you and praying that Jesus would wrap His arms around you. I know He has been holding you and He has promised to continue to hold you. Keep trusting, Mom, and I love you." (Again she groaned a response.) My family tells me that when I started to speak, her eyes opened (although she probably saw nothing) and her face brightened. God gave me the desire of my heart to speak to my mother – even to the point that I believe she knew who I was.
Mom lived her life with strong spiritual values and following spiritual principles. God was first and I never doubted that she knew Jesus. I remember sitting on her lap in church fifty years ago. But more than that, I remember her singing hymns as she went about her work. Jesus wasn't something that she added on for Sundays only, but HE was a constant part of her life. She depended on Him and was thankful to know Him.
My own spiritual development and commitment is in large part due to the influence she had on me. Church was vital. Christian friends and input were vital. She was never outspoken about her Christianity, but seemed to know the right word to say and when to say it.
Last spring when we visited, Mom knew I was family although I don't think she could have called my name. While we were in the area, a man came to the nursing home to play the accordion. He played a lot of hymns. Although she didn't know me, she knew words to almost all of those hymns and sang along. What a blessing that was. I knew that when death came, she would be with Jesus. She knew Him as a personal friend and was trusting Him to lead her when she could not lead herself. I believe He took her hand and drew her into heaven this past Monday. She was probably embarrassed at all the attention that brought to her, but I bet she was smiling that sweet loving smile we all knew.
Because Mom loved Gospel music so much, we included a lot of music in her funeral. Listen – maybe you'll hear her singing along. Or maybe she is already practicing for that heavenly Easter morning choir.
Mom, we love you!
Please keep the entire Troyer family, especially my dad, in your prayers.
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