My wife and I had the privilege of caring for my mother full time in the final 2.5 years of her life. It was an time of getting to know my mother in a totally different way than I had known her in the past 89 years before we moved her into our home more than two years ago. It must have been a frustrating experience for her to have Alzheimer’s, dementia, and arthritis that had crippled her legs as she had been a very intelligent and physically active person all her life. Yet thru it all, she remained the sweet, loveable, and patient mother I had known as a child and now, I was seeing her as a child because of a disease that is still basically untreatable, except for easing some of the symptoms. Caring for her also showed us sides of ourselves that we did not know we had. Linda was there when Mom took her final breath in her own bedroom in our home and not in a nursing home or a hospital, my mother’s greatest fear in her final years. I can say a lot of special things about my mother that would really not have much meaning to anyone unless they had know her, so I decided to post what my minister, John Knox of the Granbury Church of Christ, had to say at the grave side service. He captures the personality of the mother I knew from my earliest memories. Thank you John for this outstanding memorial to my mother.
We are going to go through life. And we are going to go through it together. Life is going to bring things we don’t anticipate, but we will go together. We will go through life confident that that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Annabeth Clarkson went through life claiming that promise. As her life unfolded, she carefully captured “all things” as God purposes were fulfilled. She captured all things on film. She took lots of black and white photos. And she did her own developing. She captured all things written as well. Handwritten letters that are now decades old are carefully archived. They tell the story of people’s lives. In a time when electronic communication continues to trump the beauty of personal penmanship, Mrs. Clarkson carefully preserved such rare treasures in binders.
She had a keen awareness of The God who sustains all things. Her Bible is well worn and there are very few pages that are not marked extensively.
In Mrs. Clarkson’s perception of life itself, all things meant just that. She was open to be involved in all things. When the realities of a World War impacted life in Ft. Worth, she became a volunteer for the Red Cross. When she married a man that owned a small business, she stepped up to the challenge and helped that business to thrive. She was a master of detail. And when children came along, all things in her life meant being the Den Mother for the Cub Scout pack her boys were involved in.
I think she saw God’s involvement in all things and responded accordingly. She could be the Ft. Worth society lady when that was necessary. She could dress the part and put together a party that had all the amenities you would expect from a person of social standing. About 34 years ago, she left life in the city and became a country dweller. She adapted well to life in the country. And she found unique things do like volunteering at the Creation Evidence Museum. That was quite a switch from being a volunteer for the Junior League of Ft. Worth. But she loved it. She was a doer.
As we reflect on Romans 8:28, a question we have to pose to ourselves is: what is my purpose? What is God’s purpose for me? Mrs. Clarkson viewed herself as the master of details. That was her niche in life. That was a way she could contribute to others. She served behind the scenes organizing, coordinating, and yes even archiving. And it was all done in a spirit of unquestioned loyalty for those she loved and cared about. If you had an interest in a particular subject, it became her mission to collect and share data on that subject. She therefore loved people by being someone that could be an informer.
There are some random facts about her life that do not need to be left out. She was an avid Rangers fan. And at some point in her married life, she learned to be a bird hunter.
As we reflect on her life today, there are two final things that really stand out. Mrs. Clarkson was a caretaker. That was her true calling in life. She took care of her family and later in life she took care of all kinds of animals. The draw to be a caretaker was so strong for her. And finally, she never complained as her health began to become more and more of a challenge. Her quiet fortitude carried the day.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:14-18.
There is no reason to be surprised. Because… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.