Thank you for being here to pay your respects to my mother. It’s impossible to summarize in just a few minutes the impact that my mother has made on this world and yet it is even more challenging to communicate her eternal contribution. The fact is, none of us will know until we reach the other side of eternity, just how significant our lives were but I imagine that there are many more mothers who have had a true eternal impact than any other kind of people. I am convinced that my mother was one of those truly significant souls who quietly, gently, humbly, and powerfully changed the world.
How and when did this happen? It happened between little league baseball games and cub scout meetings. It happened between bandaging scraped knees and trumpet lessons. Somehow, mom managed to make all her kids feel special and convinced us that we could do anything we set our minds to. Many of you never had the privilege of knowing my mom in her prime but you can probably imagine the strength that it took to raise five active, spirited children while traveling around the world. It is now my privilege to describe the mom I knew and loved.
Mom was adventurous. She loved to travel and explore new places. Every move we made was an exciting, new adventure, be it 8000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to a new Air Force Base or just up the coast a mere 1000 miles. After every move, we would miss our friends but we drew strength from our family and strangely enough, our favorite place was always the place we just left. And, because of mom’s positive attitude, we always looked forward to the next move because she convinced us that it was simply a new, exciting adventure.
Mom loved the outdoors. We spent a lot of time camping and sight-seeing and exploring. We also spent a lot of time just enjoying nature. Mom would often pause to watch a sunset or hike a path or explore the woods. I was born in Hawaii, and then moved to Georgia, Guam, and Mississippi, all warm water locations, I remember asking mom when I was eventually land-locked at age 10 near Springfield, Massachusetts, “where’s the beach?” Mom let me down gently and explained that although we could still get to the beach, the water was very cold. To add insult to injury, I became an lifelong Red Sox fan that same year, which taught me humility and how to deal with disappointment.
Probably what defined my mom the most was her love of life and family. Mom always exhibited a quiet optimism and she always saw the best in people. She never complained, even to the very end when, she had good reason to complain. Mom always counted her blessings, and yes, she named them one by one. Mom loved going to church. Because of her, I never felt I “had” to go to church, I “got” to go to church. Many of you probably don’t know this but Mom’s grandfather, William Bouterse, was the very first pastor at Conway Baptist Church just down the road. You probably also don’t know that Alice was valedictorian of her Christian School class of 1948 in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. This was just before she met my dad, and as she often mused, it was all down hill from there.
So is this background and pedigree and all the wonderful things my mom did for her family enough to get her into heaven? Mom would be the first to say, no, because mom understood that we are all fallen and in need of a savior. She lived out the gospel, or good news, that Jesus lived, died, and rose again to pay the penalty of our sin. Because of this fact, mom walked worthy of her calling and lived a life of gratitude, bearing much fruit. It’s no coincidence that while going through mom’s things this week, her Bible was bookmarked on Rom 5:1, which says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Mom had that peace that surpasses all understanding.
In conclusion, I’d like to tell you about events this past week. Last Wednesday afternoon, I received word that mom had taken a turn for the worse and so, I booked the very next flight from Phoenix to Orlando. My wife and I left Phoenix at 6:45 AM and during our layover in Chicago, learned that mom wasn’t expected to last more than an hour after the doctors removed her life support. At 5 PM, we landed in Orlando, jumped in the rental car and hastened our way to Gainesville. During that time, my sister, Trudy, who was with mom, told her that I was coming. Just like the faithful mom she was, she waited an extra 3 hours for me to arrive. I arrived at the hospital shortly after 7 PM and was privileged to spend mom’s final 30 minutes on earth with her. Surrounded by her children and our dad, mom passed peacefully from this life to the next. I’m convinced the last thing mom saw, before entering the presence of Jesus, was her loving family and one final sunset. I imagine that this was the most lucent sunset she had ever experienced; a sun that was immediately outshined by the bright Morning Star, none other than Jesus. For us, this was a sad event. For mom, this was simply the beginning of one last, great adventure. Welcome home Mom! I look forward to seeing you again.
Brian Hoekstra – 9/13/11