I write weekly for Agriculture Online, an Internet farm magazine.  My column last Thanksgiving got more responses that anything I have ever published. In that column I mentioned that my wife, Sharon, and my mother, Clara Smith were best friends. I also stated that mom’s health was good for someone who was 95 years old. Unfortunately, things changed this summer. Mom is gone now. She passed away on June 16. People ask what she died from. My answer is “she just ran out of gas.”

Until Easter things were going well. My sister took her to my niece’s house for dinner. She returned to her room at the nursing home in time for supper. Sometime that evening she fell. Recuperation took a long time. On the afternoon of June 13 there was a thunder storm. The residents of the home were placed in the hallway to avoid the hazard of broken glass in the event of a tornado. After the crisis passed, mom wanted to see how the weather was. In walking to the window, she fell again. This time the shock was too much for her systems and they began to shut down. In three days it was all over.

It is hard to predict one’s reaction to such a loss. Naturally, all of us were very sad. Each had a different level of grief. In the  eleven years that Mom spent in the home, one of my most sincere wishes was that she not have to go though a long period of suffering. At least we have that to be thankful for.

As we prepared for her memorial service, we tried to wrap up 95 years of living in a few minutes. One of the things that we heard from everyone who knew her was that she never had an unkind word about anyone. More than that, however, she left me and others in my family with some profound lessons about living.

My mother was from a different era. She never had a full time job off the farm. She was a  terrible record keeper. Yet, when she left this world, she was financially comfortable. How could this be? Her approach was very simple. Spend less than you make. Be satisfied with what you have. In today’s society, those attitudes are rare.  As I see my community becoming the suburb of a big city, I wonder how many contemporary couples could live as she and Dad did!

As I look back at my own life, becoming a farmer and moving back to the home place was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Not only did I have the opportunity to have the career I wanted, but my children got a chance to grow up close to their grandparents. That is something not many families do any more.

As my girls have become independent and gotten married, I can see traits that they learned from Mom being played out in the new families that they are forming. I could go on and on about how much they are like their grandmother. Probably the best testimonial to this influence was when my youngest daughter named her own little girl after my mother. Fortunately, Claire was born 10 months before Mom died. Besides a lot of fond memories, we have pictures of the two together.

As we were planning the funeral, the pastor asked if any of us wanted to say anything in tribute. I am not a big fan of audience participation at funerals. However, Sharon said that she would like to read a scripture. She chose Proverbs 31:10-31. If you are not familiar with that passage, get out your Bible and read it. At the end, she added the following paraphrase:

 “She picks cherries and gooseberries, makes pies and carries lunch to the field. Then she goes to town for parts.
 She not only makes her own clothes, but makes quilts and patches jeans. She cuts up apples at 4 P.M. and supplies chalk for the chalkboard.
 Her concern for the church compels her to make endless packages of noodles and embroiders pillowcases and dish towels by the dozen.
 She helps with 4-H projects, attends Jobs Daughters’ installations and takes an airplane ride to Texas to see a granddaughter married.
 She shares her stories of walking to country school, selling eggs and cream and tries to keep up the family history.
 Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

That’s my Mom. I miss her!