I haven’t had much free time lately, and the little writing I’ve done is still in the form of scribbles on the back sides of paper, waiting to find its way into a blog post or two.
One reason is, my mother-in-law’s health started deteriorating. And within only a few months she went from having back and leg pain and not sleeping well at night, to spending a week in the hospital, to coming home with hospice care, and ultimately to leaving this earth. We knew this time would come, but we weren’t expecting it to come so soon.
I wrote about her in my column, if you have a couple minutes to read it. And below is what I gave as her eulogy. As our son put it, she died on St. Patrick’s Day (and the day before a huge ladies event at our church that I coordinate every year – the church is decorated with frogs, ducks, umbrellas, rain drops, flowers and more flowers), and her Memorial service was held the day before Easter. We’re surrounded by springtime and Creation’s birthing of new life. And now our beloved Mom is surrounded by eternal springtime and rejoicing in her experience of new life! It’s hard to be sad when I think of it this way.
But we do miss her. She was one of our pastor’s wives for over two decades, and being at church now isn’t the same without her.
Eulogy for Barb Croft –
I’m Ron and Barb’s daughter-in-law, and the family asked me to give the Eulogy.
We had to look that word up, and add it to the collection of other words we’ve used lately: Metastasize. Systemic. Congestive heart failure. Hospice. Terminal.
It’s not that we didn’t know what these words mean. It’s that we never needed to use them when referring to Mom.
Eulogy is a word meaning Tribute. And today you’ll hear and see many tributes – some in the form of poetry, music, pictures… others in Scripture, in a message of hope, and in memories shared of how one woman’s life impacted so many other lives.
You’ve heard it said: The man is the head of the home, but the woman is the heart. In every way, Barb Croft was the heart of her home – and the life of the party. Everywhere she went she brought enthusiasm and her quirky sense of humor.
Barbara Croft was first a daughter, granddaughter, niece and sister. Eventually she became a wife, a mom, an aunt, mother-in-law, pastor’s wife, teacher, advisor, mentor, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Most of all, she was a friend. To everyone. She never met a stranger.
And she rarely locked or closed her doors… One thing you might not know about the Crofts is, when I first married into the family, they didn’t know how to knock on doors. And since Ron and I lived with them (and next door to them), I speak from experience. I’ll skip the details, but generally in the Croft home you never knew what you might see on the other side of a doorway. Or who might burst through a door at a most awkward moment! They didn’t quite get the concept of privacy.
But as we sat at dinner earlier this week, I listened to the stories from almost every family member seated there, and realized, this wasn’t only a leftover from Mom’s upbringing in a house full of girls – this reveals her personality: Her doors, her home, her hands, her arms, her heart – all were open to the people around her.
These past two or three years, Mom struggled with dementia, and this year it progressed even worse. She still remembered who she was and who her family was; she remembered Scripture verses from decades of teaching and counseling. And she remembered her friends.
One of her favorite subjects of conversation was her friends and neighbors here in Mariposa. She loved laughing and playing games with the “clique.” And she loved being neighbors with Harold and Alice. She was always telling me how close they were, how Alice could come over and borrow anything she needed, any time, from Mom’s house, without asking ( or knocking). And Mom could go over and borrow anything she needed, any time, from Alice’s house, even if Alice wasn’t home and without asking. They had that kind of friendship – like sisters, Mom would say.
During these past several months every time one of us walked near her, we would be accosted. She would walk up to Ron, wrap her arms around him and say to whoever stood nearby: This is my firstborn, I’m so proud of him, he’s such a blessing, etc., etc… And she’d look at him and say, I just want you to know how much I love you… and what a blessing you are…
Others at church have told me, they too were accosted by Mom, and told how much she appreciated them…
And even though I tried, I couldn’t escape. She’d find me and walk over to start telling whoever was standing around how glad she was I married her son… And then she’d say to me: Deb, I just want you to know how much I love you, how thankful I am for you, etc., etc… Anything you need, Dad and I are here for you…
It was a little annoying at first, because she forgot she already told me those things the day before. And the day before that… And the day before that… And every time she saw me.
But after a couple weeks of this, the Lord whispered.
Debbie, this is her way of saying Good-bye. She wants you to know how much she loves you and how much you mean to her – while she has the chance… while she still remembers who you are. Because she knows there will be a day when she won’t remember, or when she won’t be here to tell you.
He was right, of course. So after that I quit trying to escape. I’d stand beside her with my arm around her, and I’d listen. And when she was done, I would say: But Mom, all those wonderful things you talk about, I learned so many of those from you.
Wherever she went, whatever room she entered, her first thought was, How can I help? She was a giver, not a taker, a true servant, rarely concerned about herself, always thinking of others. When Dana and I went through her closet and craft room this week, we found gifts she hadn’t given yet, with slips of paper attached in her handwriting: For Pat. For Alice.
Barb Croft left a legacy of character and lived an example of Godly womanhood in every role she filled. She never met a problem or an obstacle she couldn’t overcome, or wasn’t willing to take on. She believed living by faith was exciting. And there wasn’t any place she’d rather be than serving the Lord.
And today we want you to know how blessed we’ve been all these years, to be her family.