Rose Ella Feagin: November 26, 1930 – July 14, 2016
When I first read the Obituary Jan wrote about her mom, I took a deep breath! Even though I’ve known Jan’s mom for almost 35 years – and baptized her into the Family of Christ at Fellowship Bible Church – there was SO much I had forgotten about my remarkable mother-in-law.
There are always regrets when someone close to you dies. My regret … I didn’t celebrate Rose Ella’s remarkability more completely! Here’s the rather uncomfortable reality in that. The ‘hard’ years of a senior’s life sometimes shroud the beauty and uniqueness of their legacy … if we let it!
There’s another dimension of remarkability over these last few years; Jan and Caroline’s care for their mom & grandmother. Jan did it graciously and with very little help! She carried the weight of literally hundreds of doctor appointments, medical tests, procedures, hospital visits, and meetings with Assisted Living Staff, etc., which translated into thousands of hours of unselfish care giving. Jan was an Angel of Grace in her mom’s last phase of life!
Caroline, was Angel of Grace #2. On her own initiative, on so many occasions, Caroline would pack up and go have dinner with Grammy … or just visit and spend time with her. They were best friends.
When Jan asked me to conduct Grammy’s Memorial Service, she knew I’d ask to see her mom’s Bible and journal. If you really want to know someone’s heart, check-out what they’ve written in the margins of their Bible or pages of their journal. Sure, that must be done with utmost respect and discretion, but there are always great insights into the person’s character in those books.
Rose Ella had a remarkable and resilient faith! Yes, veiled a bit in recent years, but rock solid and grounded in biblical truth. On the first page of her journal were notes and a diagram about Romans 12:1-2. You know those verses, “… offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Rose Ella’s journal also contained her ‘Three-Point’ Personal Purpose Statement. Lead while I have strength; Teach while I have memory; and Love everyone abundantly. Nicely succinct; wonderfully simple; and beautifully fulfilled.
Some of Rose Ella’s remarkable legacy goes with her … and her generation. She was a member of what Tom Brokaw labeled ‘The Greatest Generation.’ He wrote a book by that same name chronicling the significant events and unique challenges Rose Ella’s generation faced in their lifetime … like the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor (she was eleven on that day), WW II Rationing, The Korean War, and Growing up in the 50’s. Incidentally, Rose Ella hosted a television show as a younger woman. She loved Elvis Presley … and actually had him as a guest on her show one time!
In closing, let me share with you a few moments of her final chapter with us.
On June 7th of this year, after another fall and hospitalization, Rose Ella quietly whispered to Jan, “If this goes badly … know that I am good with God!” Rose Ella subsequently contracted pneumonia and after a stay in ICU, was admitted to Hospice.
In Hospice, we lived day-by-day with an overwhelming sense of Shalom – God’s unfailing comfort and peace. We knew we were releasing Grammy to His care. And when you’re absolutely certain of that, Shalom travels with you.
We prayed every day that Jesus would take Rose Ella across the threshold of this world into His. We held her hand, stroked her hair, and prayed from Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says, ‘Do not fear, I will help you,’” And he did! Caroline, Jan and I witnessed Grammy taking her last breath … and her Living Spirit depart her agonized body!
In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, there is a very heart-wrenching story of Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ discussion with his sister, Martha. I encourage you to read it. Martha, in her Jewish tradition knew her brother would rise again “at the last day.” But now she came face-to-face with the Agent of that hope … and the Person of New Life. Jesus ‘introduced’ himself … and then asked her a final question.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me, will never die.
“Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Rest in your Eternal Reward, Grammy.