May 23, 1996 was a memorable day for Mema for several reasons - it was the 59th anniversary of her marriage to Dad, who had been gone nearly 5 years. She also learned later in the day that the house my Dad had grown up in had burned in the early hours. She and Dad lived with his family after they were married and she really loved being with that family. In this piece she is remembering those days with the Sutherlands.
"Harold and I in our last years on this earth decided we made the best choice (to slip off to Illinois to get married)looking back through all our 54+ years together. We have no regrets at all and I have been alone now nearly 5 years. He lived his last days a very happy man even through all his illness and suffering.
Our family of 31 are a happy bunch, the newest member is due in August to Michael and Annette. What a great event for our family to anticipate. But, we miss "Frosty", oh yes! Today the house Harold grew up in burned to the ground. We had some great homecomings in that house. Lots of holidays - good food - happy times. Pa and Grandma were wonderful to me and I loved them dearly. Grandma Grace was Dr E.G. Thomas' daughter and he delivered all eight of her children at home in that house.
I was so happy to be in Harold's fine family so I had real good teachers in family life with my Mom and Dad. My Dad had eight brothers and sisters and my Mom had seven in her family. I really grew up in the greatest family environment of loving and living in joy and hard work. I rocked many babies in my lifetime. As a child I learned what I really wanted out of life. Being a mother and wife has been the big joy to me and a deep reality of well being. I'm sure now this was my ambition growing up. Harold was my dream come true and we hope our lovely family to be as happy homemakers as we are!
God has made us married forever, truly. This isn't possible without the Lord Jesus Christ and his church. I am on my knees in thanksgiving and my trust is growing stronger every day. Half of me is already gone and I hope someday to take up our life together again. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, are all we will take out of God's beautiful world."
I have been privileged over the years to be in the presence some beautiful, faithful people as they breathed their last in this world. The opportunity to minister to them and their families and to learn from them has been one of the true blessings of a half century of ministry. I can firmly say that I have never seen a person of true faith die in fear! That is a gift from God through his Holy Spirit, made possible by the love of Jesus Christ for all the human family. Amazing Mema has prepared her heart to see beyond the grave we will someday place her body in. HALLELUJAH!