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Family Came First
Photo: Studiomill
At a family-member’s invitation, I attended the memorial service for “Lillian,” an elderly lady I’d known through my volunteer work at a nursing home. The Lillian I knew suffered many problems including severe memory loss. What impressed me was the faithfulness and frequency of family visits, including the great-granddaughter with a toddler and newborn in tow.

For a family-only event, there was a sizeable turnout and many went to the podium to share their memories. A new picture of Lillian formed in my mind. When, as a young woman, she married a widower and became a step-mom, she evidently determined to be the best, most loving mom possible. What I heard at the funeral from her step-nieces and nephews as well as from her own family members was a recurrent theme of, “family always came first.” She cared for them, she taught them, and she fed them with love.

Amid the trials, grief, and difficulties that often tear families apart, Lillian found ways to hold them together. She understood the healing process of hospitality. When trouble brewed or crises hit, she cooked. (Seems everyone loved her cooking!) I heard stories of sorrows come-to-terms with under the patient ministry of Lillian’s food and her unconditional love that she served with it.

Eat Now

I could just picture Lillian, in the midst of a tense situation, saying with her kind but authoritative voice, “It’s time to eat now. We can talk later.” What a difference restoring nutrients and calm in the body can make! When blood sugars and adrenalin are normalized and the body feels loved and cared for, something happens to the fighting spirit. The fire goes out. Meanwhile, great-aunt or grandma or great-grandma Lillian would find funny or endearing things to comment on about children or pets.

“That’s how we got through our awful times,” said a step-nephew, “by Aunt Lillian’s love and making sure our family never went hungry.”

I looked at the little clusters of families sitting in the pews, sharing the loss of a beloved woman whose greatness lay in her placing family first. Their testimonies reminded me of Proverbs 31:10 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies."

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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