When some people give to others, it seems to come so naturally to them that they go through life almost unnoticed because those who routinely give so generously hardly draw attention to themselves; their minds resting easily on the needs of others. This week, one of those wonderful people has passed away after a courageous battle with a complicated cancer, and the hole she seemingly left in the world is vast. However, never to let anything go undone, she left it filled with a legacy of love.
When I first met Jonan and her husband, Bill, at church several years back, I marveled at their ability to balance their life together. I never saw one without the other. They took on several volunteer projects. Both gave of their time greatly by taking on the tasks of cleaning the church (not just surface cleaning, but deep cleaning the inside and outer buildings, including the bathrooms. As if that wasn’t enough, she was the person who beautifully decorated the interior of the church with fresh flowers each week. She and her husband were taking on retirement by going to work; the example they set for those of us in the middle of our lives left an indelible impression. Together they worked with the zest and zeal of artisans who also happened to have the hearts of Clydesdales; happy and cheerful, knowing they were serving a higher and more important need, not only for others, but for God. She was always about the business of cheerfully staying busy, stopping occasionally to chat about the most important people in her life, her family; comprised of eight children and over 30 grandchildren. You would never know that she came from a life of hardship and loss. Jonan was a woman who listened, rather than complained and was willing to offer advice if you asked her for it, never imposing herself on others. She was simply a woman of grace.
In the greatness of small things, she was creative. Whether it was sewing, crafts, entertaining or arranging flowers; her talents were wide reaching. Always, the mother and grandmother; she embodied the woman of Proverbs 31, reminiscent so much of my Aunt Carol; both women to be emulated. Many women live their lives honorably and justly, few do so in seeming anonymity. When she first was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, it was humbling to watch both she and Bill tackle the business of fighting the cancer, much in the way that they cleaned the church or she arranged the flowers; with great tenacity and grace, always seeking the will of God, surrounding themselves with those they loved and even unto the end, she had her mind on others.
When JD & I stopped by to see her a few days ago in her final days; she seemed to grow ever more beautiful, taking on her youthful countenance again. Cancer may have robbed her of a certain quantity of days, but it would not deprive of her of the quality of them, because as she suffered through those last few days, love seemed to grow ever more present in her home, with her husband and children near her side day and night. I have been very few places where I felt an overwhelming sense of love; but never so much as was in their home the night we visited her. Wanting to reassure her, she reassured me. Wanting to tell her not to be afraid, she trusted in God’s will all the while asking after the kids who resided in her heart. As a Proverbs 31 woman, she has lived with dignity and goodness. It was an honor and privilege to have known her. My prayer is that she be showered by the saints with roses as she enters the heavenly gates.
“Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her...with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard....She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle…She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor...She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow: for all her domestics are clothed with double garments…Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day…Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised…Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.”