This is the Eulogy that I gave at my mother’s funeral on Saturday, January 7, 2017. I wrote this according to her wishes; she would be pleased if friends and family who were unable to attend would take the few minutes to read this.
Eulogy for My Mother Helen Haas (Hynes/Luscombe)
by Leif Luscombe
January 7, 2017
My mother was born in a rural fishing village in Newfoundland in 1947. This was 2 years before Newfoundland joined Confederation, while they were a territory of Great Britain.
She was the second youngest of 11 siblings, with 8 brothers and 2 sisters. Her father Louis and her brothers made a living fishing on the high seas. Her mother, Helen, kept the home running. When she was born, they did not have the advances of electricity, telephone, radio and television, so in a way she was born into a pioneer life, and saw many technological advances in her days.
Mom would often entertain us with interesting stories of life in Fortune Harbour. One lady who insisted that all visitors to her place should close her gate to keep the horses out. That might seem logical, until you realize that there was no fence around her property.
There was the owner of the dry goods store, who was known to complain about the inconvenience of re-stocking his shelves. The tales of skating to school across the frozen harbour, of a rich community life from a time when people did not have modern distractions. My mother missed that culture, and never felt fully comfortable in the rush of a today’s modern world.
My mother got married in her mid twenties, and my sister and I were born. The way things turned out, she raised us alone from when we were small. With few skills and very little support around her, she braved the world, and Erin and I stand as a testament of her virtue and strength. I say this not to point to ourselves, but if she were here today, she would be very open with each of you about the pride she had in her children and grandchildren. To her dying day, her family was the most important thing to her in this world.
I say “in this world” because I spoke with her many times about what she would like me to say in her eulogy, and she said to me that whether she lived or died, she wanted Christ to be magnified.
My mother struggled with depression; it was a shadow that always followed her. At times it was very intense; she would descend into a darkness that few can understand. In 2010, the Lord broke through with a revelation of the gospel, of what Jesus accomplished for her on the cross, and that changed her, helping to loosen the bonds of emotional and spiritual burdens and fear.
God showed her that salvation was not based on her, or what she could offer God. Neither was it connected to the way that she felt on a certain day, or the subjective measure of her experience. Her salvation was founded solely on the historical fact of the finished work of Jesus on Calvary; nothing could be added to or subtracted from that event. All she had to do was have faith that her sins were forgiven through Jesus’ shed blood, and that because of the cross she was already accepted before God.
If on a certain day she felt poorly, it was not because of God’s displeasure, for God had already established a relationship with her by grace, through his Son. Whether or not she could feel that was not material to the reality of this salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
My mother was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer in the first week of November. I wish to briefly share with you of the Lord’s watch care during the two months that we took care of mom at our home.
Backing up to last summer, I assisted with teaching Vacation Bible School at our church. The subject was about the goodness of God, when times are good, as well as when things don’t go the way we would like them to, or when life looks dark and we can’t make sense of what we are going through.
At the time, I was honest with God and told him that it was easy to trust him, because life was relatively easy. But I prayed, Lord, I know that I am weak; will I have the faith to trust you when I face calamity and sorrow? I had put my theological roots down into biblical teaching of the Sovereignty of God in all things; that God is working through everything for his glory and our good.
The test came with the news of my mother’s condition. I struggled with intense grief when she was diagnosed as being terminally ill. We almost lost her in that first week of November. The Lord was faithful, and has kept me strong through this; it is an experience has been deeply spiritual; through my grief, God put into my heart an intense joy, peace and gratitude, which goes beyond understanding.
At the start of this journey of caring for my mother, I told the Lord that I didn’t know how to do this, that he would need to lead me each step of the way. The doors that he opened and people that he brought to us at the right moment is testimony that God was with us. I said to my sister a couple days ago as we were making arrangements for this funeral, “If we knew two months ago what we know now, we couldn’t have planned things out better than God did.” I would welcome the chance to share more details with anyone who is interested.
My mother was fairly stable in our home until Friday, December 30th, when the Lord provided the way for us to take her to Sakura House in Woodstock, where she received palliative care. The final days of my mother’s life she became dramatically weaker, eventually losing all of her strength, abilities, and faculties. We stayed with her through this, and were able to spend these days and nights watching over her.
In anticipation of her departure at Sakura House, I wrote on my Facebook page on January 2: “I do not despair; a blanket of bleakness will not settle over this place. For Jesus is here, and though the enemy Death presses in, and sadness makes our hearts heavy, we joyfully cling to the promises of God. Because of what He has done through His Son, even though death will part my mother and I for a season, we have the hope of being reunited for eternity at the resurrection.”
On January 4th at 11:30am, my mother passed peacefully, with her hand in mine, as I prayed over her. This is a powerful experience that I shall never forget; indeed it may take me years to process this brief moment in time.
I could not have borne the burdens of this time without help, and I wish to extend thanks to:
My sweet wife, Tanya, who stood by my side and supported me as we looked after my mother at home for almost 2 months.
To each my of my children for the sunshine of their love, which makes life worth living.
To my sister Erin, who has walked in the same path of sorrow with me, and her husband Jim and my nephew and niece, who poured much love on my mother through the years
To the faithfulness of my mother-in-law Sylvia, without whose help we could not have managed to offer my mother the quality of care that she received, and to my Father-in-law, Bob, whose quiet presence and listening ear was a comfort during this time.
To our spiritual family at Springfield Baptist Church, who will never know the depth of gratitude we have for the contributions they have made to our lives, and for the support they have given us during this time. Special thanks goes to Pastors John and Jeff and their wives, who offered us support and stopped in to visit, sometimes unannounced, but always at the time we needed them most.
To Harvest Bible Chapel in London, where my mother found friendship, fellowship and solid Christian teaching.
To the medical professionals at London Health Sciences Centre, who were the hands of God in saving my mother’s life on more than one occasion.
To Sakura House which helped us to manage the final days of my mother’s life, and each of the nurses and support workers who were angels of mercy and compassion.
I extend deep appreciation to all who are in attendance today, please know that it has brought our hearts much comfort and cheer.
Above all, I thank Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who shepherds us each day of our lives, and has faithfully taken us by the hand to lead us through a time that was a strange mix of incredible beauty and deep pain. (pause)
I would like to express an extra special thanks to our mother, who taught us to love the Lord. Were she here today, it would be her great desire that each one of you would know personally the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, to understand who he is, and what he did for us on Calvary. She would hope that we would let that event take hold in our lives, that we would embrace the truth that through Jesus we can be reconciled to God, not by works which we have done, but because of his great mercy.
I wrote a short poem that I would like to share with you all in closing.
A Poem by Leif for Our Mom and Nana
Rest in peace, mother dear;
We will miss the days when you were near.
Your sweet laughter and bright smiles,
That cheered us through life’s miles.
Your memory will be with us always,
The love you expressed in big and small ways.
And though we experience pain and loss,
We know that through Jesus’ cross,
We will meet once again,
Where there will be no more sorrow or pain.
In God’s kingdom made new,
We will be forever with you.