Here are the remarks I made at my step-mother’s funeral today. Deborah Vivian Glover Johns – you will always be remembered and loved.
A few weeks ago I was watching TV and there was an interview with a photographer who had been taking pictures of real people in New York City. He had just come out with a book containing some of his favorites and he described one of a woman who was 92 years old, walking around New York in the rain with an umbrella, offering to keep people dry. When the photographer asked her why she was being so nice to people she said, “When my husband was dying I asked him how I would ever live without him and he told me to take the love he had for me and spread it around. I’ve been doing so ever since.”
Debbie took love with her everywhere she went and spread it around.
When I decided to go back to seminary after having two kids, I wasn’t sure how I would do it. I spoke with Debbie many times about wanting to fulfill my calling but I just didn’t know how I would manage to care for two small boys at the same time. She told me not to worry about the boys. She would help me make it happen.
And we did. At first I thought she just wanted time with her grandsons – and I’m sure that was part of it. But later I realized that she wanted to see me succeed. She wanted to help me be the person that God called me to be. She loved me.
Debbie taught me more about grace than any theology class ever could. Her hugs, her laughter, her joy were available without limitations. She radiate the Holy Spirit and made every room she entered a happier place.
When it comes to family, you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit. But when it came to Debbie, she made everyone her family, and Dad and I were blessed that he didn’t mess this one up.
When they started dating, I was just happy that Dad had a companion, but I gained a friend, a sister in Christ, and a bonus mom.
Ecclesiasties 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Debbie, our bonds are not broken because of death. We will meet again, but until then I will hug a little tighter and a little longer and I will spread your love around because I know that your love came from God and it transformed the world.
Take the love she had for you and spread it around.
That is what Debbie would want us to do now.
In closing I’d like to read a poem that is special to Dad and Debbie:
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Debbie – you have made all the difference.
Until Everyone Hears,