Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Arleen Hurt Eulogy

Arleen Hurt, R.I.P

My mother, Arleen Hurt, passed away on Friday, July 15, 2016. Following, is the Eulogy I delivered at her funeral.

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus. My name is Virgil Hurt, fourth child, third son of Arleen. I live in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I am here to tell my mom’s story, at least as far as I see it. But it is not my intent to retell her obituary in detail. Many of you read Arleen’s obituary in the newspaper. There is a longer version on the funeral home website. I commend it to you and would be honored if you looked it up and read it. You can find it HERE. (Her obituary is also below on Babbelog)

My mom was born in Los Angeles in 1938. She weighed a mere three pounds and had to fight for her life from the beginning. Her struggles did not end as an infant. Her childhood was full of pain and suffering and her father died horribly when she was twelve years old. As a result, she clung to her three brothers and her mother, Letha, whom she loved dearly, until her mother’s death in 1968. My mom’s sister in law, Aunt Carol, is here, the last living link to that generation. We honor you, Aunt Carol.

I was just a toddler when Grandma Letha died and do not really remember her at all. But one of the things I admire about my own mother is how much she loved her mother. It is a difficult task to never complain about your mother but in all my years I have never heard my mom say an unkind thing about her own mother. That is honorable.

Arleen married my father, Virgil, in 1956 in Reno, Nevada and they resided in Concord, California around that time. It wasn’t long until four kids came along. Many of those early years were difficult years for mom and for us kids and all made their way to Twin Falls, Idaho, in October of 1970, hoping for a new start. Mom was large with child then and Letha was born here in Twin Falls in January of 1971.

My dad was a roofer and my mom worked various jobs until she started working at the Roger’s Brothers Seed Company in 1971, where she worked as a seed sorter and later moved into the lab. She worked for seed companies in seed labs until just a few weeks before her death at 78 years old. She did this work for 45 years.

My mother worked hard. By her example, she taught us five kids the value of hard work. We honor her for that and pay it forward to our own children and grandchildren, who know and will know the value and honor of work and its reward. Her best friends were the ladies she worked with all those years. She could not stay retired because she liked to work and she loved her friends at work.

I am telling a story, a story of a mother, a woman, a grandmother, a friend. It is Arleen’s story. But I am not writing the story and neither is Arleen. And although it is Arleen’s story, the reality is that there is only one story.

Shakespeare wrote, All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

He then goes on to tell about the stages of life, ending with the feeble years of old age. In this life, often the best days are in the early years, or the midlife years and things travel down hill from there. It was not so for my mom. She lived best and fullest in her old age.

Like any great story, the early and middle part is fraught with difficulty, trouble and uncertainty. Although the top four children in our family have many painful memories of our childhood, there are also many good memories. Letha has many more good memories, particularly with mom. The story arch was changing. Things were improving. Our own children remember Grandpa Virgil and Grandma Arleen with universal approval and love. They were kind to my children and though my kids didn’t see Grandma often, they loved her dearly. I think that is true of all of her grands and greats.

Mom always remembered birthdays for all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She sent birthday cards to all of them, 36 in all. At Christmas, even with her meager income, she generously mailed Target gift cards to her children and grandchildren. With card in hand, we eagerly looked forward to the Target shopping spree on December 26. Thanks Grandma!

My mom received very few visitors in the weeks following her diagnosis with lung cancer in May of this year. She wanted to make that Wisconsin trip in June and said she would, even if she had to crawl there. Those of you who knew her also know that when she made up her mind it was futile to try to get her to change it. In fact, I finally figured out that the only sure way to get her to do something was to try to convince her to do the exact opposite.

Well, mom made the Wisconsin trip and she didn’t have to crawl. You can see all the great pictures in the slide show. It was just a few weeks ago. She laughed, she sang, she danced. And in making that trip, mom saw something glorious. She saw the legacy that she created. All of her children, most of her grandchildren and some of her great grandchildren, made the trip. Mom saw that the story was her story but it was much bigger than her. She acknowledged to me that the glory she saw there was a much greater glory and blessing than she ever expected or deserved.

You see, there really is only one story. The people are players but not merely players as Shakespeare suggested. They are most certainly players, indeed, part of the one great story that God is telling, part of the story that God is revealing on the Earth in the Kingdom of Jesus as He makes all things new. This is the one true story of which we are all part. I think my mom saw that with increasing clarity just a few weeks ago. She and I talked about it.

You can see this story with your own eyes. It doesn’t even take faith to see it right now. It is standing before you. It is seated around you in my siblings and their spouses and their children and grandchildren and in some of our friends and extended family gathered here. The story is real. Who are you in it? It is still being written. You can choose a part. Which will it be? Or, you can choose not to believe this story, rebel against the story, be a bit player or even the antagonist who opposes the hero of the story, who is, of course, Jesus. He is the one who rules heaven and earth and is in the process of drawing straight with crooked lines as He makes all things new. He drew straight with Arleen and we give Him thanks.

My mom’s story does not end here. In fact, it is just getting going. We have only talked about the last 78 years. Most of her recent story is the last 46 years in Idaho. But now her story goes on, woven into the fabric of the beautiful and victorious story that God is telling in Christ Jesus. We are such creatures of a moment. We need more imagination. What will Arleen’s story look like in 50 years? In 100 years? In 500 years? In a thousand generations?

What it will look like is a tremendous legacy of God’s grace and mercy, a legacy of which my mother, Arleen Hurt, played a key part. A legacy of which, through her, you will have all played a role. A legacy that will redound to the glory of God and a legacy in which we can all say, Amen and thank you Jesus.

Mom, Grandma, Aunt, Friend, Sister in law, Great grandma. You will be missed.

Arleen Hurt, Rest in Peace.

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