Frances Harkins Roberts

While we were home over Christmas, I was blessed to be able to travel to Sylacauga to see my MeMaw and E-Earl, my Dad's parents.   They both have battled dementia and Alzheimer's the last few years.  MeMaw had a couple of strokes in 2012 and last Wednesday we found out that MeMaw had another stroke and hospice was called in.  Fortunately and an answer to prayers, she did not face a long struggle.  She peacefully left this Earth to be with her Lord and Savior on Thursday morning January 10th, 2013.

My MeMaw was born in Jasper, Alabama in 1929.  She met my E-Earl at Jacksonville State University.  She was an educator for over 35 years serving in several school districts.  She retired from the Alabama School for the Deaf.  My brother and I were laughing remembering how cool we thought it was that she could do sign language and she would teach us.  JB couldn't believe that I still remember the alphabet (up to the letter Q).  I was the oldest and first grandchild so I had more practice :-)  She was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Talladega for almost a half a century.  She served as church hostess and was a member of the women's group and the Hilltoppers.   

My MeMaw loved to play cards.  She loved to go on trips with her groups.  She went on several cruises including Alaska.  She had a subtle witty sense of humor but always a very soft gentle voice.  She pretty much let us grandkids do whatever we wanted when she watched us. Our favorite game?  Making mixtures in the kitchen.  My cousin Lori and I would mix everything you can imagine in her kitchens.  We talked about it at the funeral as both one of our fondest memories together.  

Her biggest accomplishment though?  Raising 4 kids.  My daddy, the oldest and known as Johnny, his sister Brenda, brother Jeff, and baby of the family, Chuck.  After the visitation and before the service, the family gathered with the minister in the parlor and held hands in a large circle.  As I grabbed their hands, I looked around and just praised God for what an awesome legacy He worked through my grandparents.  4 hard working, amazing, Christian children with 8 beautiful Christian grandchildren, and now 3 little grandsons being raised in the Word. The pride she took in her family too. Every person that came in to visitation said to my brother and me "oh! you must be the cloggers. Francis always showed us pictures and kept us updated on you."  I remember the first Christmas that Justin came with me to Talladega to "meet the family".  We played games, it was rowdy, it was loud, there were people every where.  When we he left Justin said to me "now that is how family should be.  We need to have a big family!"  

And you know what?  MeMaw would have loved that it was just that way when we all got together again.  Games, fellowship, hugs, and laughter.  Just as she would have enjoyed.  

The service was beautiful.  The minister did a wonderful job sharing stories that captured MeMaw's sweet spirit.  The congregation sang favorite hymns and my brother sang this amazing song. Of course, I think he did better than the original singer.  

I love this picture of my brother on the morning of the funeral.  He was across the hall at the cabin and I heard him practicing.  Such a beautiful voice and sweet spirit.

The verse that the minister used was from 2 Timothy 4:2b.  At first I thought it was an odd choice but her explanation was beautiful.  She said that she prayed "God, what would you have Francis remembered by?" And this verse came to her.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

The title of her message was "Consistent".  Memaw was loyal. Married for over 60 years.  A teacher for more than 35 years.  Served her church for almost 50 years.  Showing up in season, and out of season.  The same smile.  The same sweet spirit.  I know times were not always easy.  Raising 4 kids of 2 teachers salaries.  But MeMaw made it work.  And she made it work with a smile and a joy.  She patient.  She was consistent. I love that the Message version of this verse says "Don't ever quit.  Keep it simple."  

I like to the think that the weekend at home was just like the song JB sang. Finding joy among the sorrows.  Finding joy in a beautiful life well lived for 83 years.  Finding joy in the stories and memories.  Finding joy in being together, forever grateful for the life of Francis Harkins Roberts.

Don't you think this looks like me?  MeMaw at her graduation 
The Riley's