After While, Crocodile – a Tribute to One Feisty Lady

(Note: Sorry I missed last week. It was an emotional blur. Writing this tribute to my mother-in-law was therapeutic for me. I realize it’s a bit long, so thanks for letting me share it with you. I hope somehow you’ll be blessed by it.) 

   On October 10th, Jay and I traveled to Delaware for a short visit with his mother. We had no idea she would no longer be with us nine days later. Although she requested no service, the family decided to host a Celebration of Life. 

Since Jay’s mother worked for the DuPont Company, we were pleased to host the party at their country club. Mil often conveyed rich memories of the family dancing to the music of big bands like Louie Armstrong, Guy Lombardo and the Dorseys.

                                                                        

Mil’s family consists of Chick, Jay, seven grandchildren, various spouses and 11 great-grandchildren. Since we weren’t able to plan a 100th birthday party for her, each of our five daughters promised they would visit their grandmother within the coming year. And they did, even Katie who lives in Alaska. They weren’t able to come to the celebration, but I know they cherish their personal times with her.  

  Mildred Welsh was 102 on September 24th. Up until recently, her mind has been sharp and unhindered by the ravages of aging. She had no life-threatening malady or disease. However, it was sad to watch the mark of time take its toll, slowly shutting down her senses.

Mil was an avid reader until her eyesight gave way to her memories and the miles she’d traveled from her favorite rocker by her kitchen window. She loved good food, but claimed she’d lost her ability to taste. However, she was quick to tell you if she didn’t like something. And she did eat three of her granddaughter Kim’s crab cakes on the day of her 102nd birthday.

When Mil lost the feeling in her fingers, unknowingly she would push the keys on the phone in the middle of the conversation. However, she had no trouble holding her glass of Southern Comfort, which she called her medicine. She’d fall sound asleep in her chair never losing her grip on the glass. I find her choice of Southern Comfort amusing. I don’t think she ever forgave me for making a southerner out of her baby boy.    

Although she was an introvert, Mil had a great sense of humor. She was an interesting conversationalist—when she wanted to be. Her loss of hearing made this more difficult, especially for my sweet husband who called her every other day to talk to her. His goal was to make her laugh and most of the time, he did.

After she died, Chick, his children Kim, Kip and Norma Jean, Jay and I gathered by her side to mourn our loss. Kim’s grandmother had been like a mother to her since her mom died years ago. Devastated, she kept asking me, “She’s not really here . . . is she?” I tried to assure her the Bible promises when we’re absent in the body, we’ll be present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8 John 14:1-4)

Why do I believe this is true for Mil? Let me share a short version of a conversation I had with my mother-in-law a few months ago.

Last spring, Mil spent five weeks in a nursing facility. One day, I went to visit her while Jay was cleaning the floors at her house. When I got to her room, I handed her the newspaper and then settled in the chair across from her rocker.

She read her paper while I worked on the computer. In time, we began to talk. I don’t know exactly how the conversation started, but I remember her saying, “No one who’s ever lived is perfect.”

I gently reminded her there is one person who was perfect, Jesus. I talked about the person of Christ—why He came. At one point, she said, “I believe in God.” I answered, “I know you believe in Him in your head. But I don’t think you believe in your heart.”

After talking for a while, I sensed she didn’t yet understand the significance of knowing for sure she was going to heaven. “If you wake up one night and decide you do want to receive Christ, would you know how to do that?”

“No,” she replied.

I asked her if it would be okay if I explained it to her, just in case she wanted to do this on her own. When she agreed, I invited her to listen as I read a booklet called “Would You Like to Know God Personally?”

She listened intently as I read the scriptures and explained how she could receive Christ. I don’t know when the Holy Spirit revealed to her the truth of God’s Word. But He did. For, when I asked her if she would like to invite Christ into her life by faith, she said, “Yes.”

After she prayed with me, I looked up and could literally see the peace on her face. A little later, a Christian friend came in the room. I looked at Mil and said, “Tell her what you did.”

Mil looked at the friend and smiled. “I became a Christian.”

Months before this, Jay’s mother had told us how she prayed every day. She would say the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer and then while looking at the pictures on the wall, she prayed for every member in the family.

I believe she’s still praying every day for us, but now she’s face-to-face with the One who answers prayers. No more pain, sorrow or confusion as to why she lived so long. God had his purpose and I believe we’re just beginning to understand some of the reasons.   

While reminiscing through some of her things, Jay and I found a note. “Chick and Jay, please don’t make any fuss when I’m gone. I’ve lived a very full life. And since your dad passed away, I’ve just been waiting to join him.”

Mildred Welsh was a feisty, independent woman who loved her family more than her life. I know for a fact her greatest desire would be for us to honor her memory by loving one another.

Jay recalls his last exchange with his mom before she died. As he stood to leave, he said, “See you later, Alligator.” Her eyes shone as she looked up at him, smiled and softly replied, “After while, Crocodile.”

                                                             

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Comments
19 Responses to “After While, Crocodile – a Tribute to One Feisty Lady”
  1. Edie Melson says:

    Liz, thank you for sharing your mother-in-law with us. She’s one more person I look forward to spending time with in Heaven!

    • Thanks, Edie. Me, too. I’ll bet she’s dancing! Liz

    • Oh Millie, I’m sooo sorry this is happening to you. Since I’m praying for my 2017 miracle. I’m adding you to my list. In my need literally every my faith has been challenge and every day God has given me an amazing nugget to pull me away from my doubts. And another interesting thing is the other day He led me to also trust Him for miracles for others as He gives them to me. And that’s what I’m doing. I will definitely add your situation! I suggest that every time you worry or doubt, ask God for a faith nugget. He will give it to you! He hasn’t missed â day for me since I decoded to ask Him for my miracle. If y’all are reading my blog, I’ve invited my readers to track my miracle with me, well as their miracle.

      For example, day before yesterday, Jesus gave me one from His conversation with Peter when He asked him if He loved Him. This is what He gave me. My lack of faith exposes the shallowness of my love for Him. It also exposes the depth of my need to allow Him to reveal His love to me in the midst of my weakness or trial.

      When we love Him in the depths of our hearts, holding nothing back from Him, He will respond with from heights of His creative love and powers, holding back nothing from us.

      Family, let’s put our faith on the line and expect a miracle for Millie! He is able!

      I adore each of you for you are five of my miracles!

      Mom

  2. Harriett Salley says:

    Thank you for letting us get to know “MIL”. With her praying and reading the Bible,I feel God had already chosen her for his own. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to help her verbalize it! Know this is a hard time for Jay as he talked with her almost everyday, I think I heard him say! At her age, you would know there would be many other problems to develop down the road, had she lived longer. No one wants their loved ones to suffer. And after all, she has attained the highest honor of being with God, her husband and other loved ones! It is up to us to try to do the same!!! I am so glad y’all were there with her. Will see you soon. Love to you and Jay, Harriett

  3. Caritas Nzeyimana says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your love for your mother in law and her love for the family. Please receive my sympathy and be courageous during these hard times.

    Caritas

  4. John Austin (and Joanne) says:

    Thanks Liz for a precious tribute to a feisty woman. You got a little feisty your own self! Keep it up. Love and comfort in Christ to our dear brother, Jay

    • Thanks, John and Joanne for your comment on my post about Jay’s mother. She truly was a remarkable woman. We’re looking forward to being with her in heaven. What a joy that will be.

      Love to you both,
      Liz

  5. Susan says:

    Wow, what a gal — 102 and still sharp! And what a testimony of God’s grace and relentless pursuit of His children. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    Thanks Mom for sharing your beautiful words and from the heart. I know it had to have been an important step in healing on many levels. Thanks for giving us all another opportunity to remember Mom Mom and rejoice because we will see her again.I love you!

    • Thanks, dear one. It truly was an important step for me. What a joyful reunion we’ll have with her some day. I pray the rest of her family will come to know Him, as well. Then, it will be a real party!

      Love you, Mom

  7. Lisa Tyler says:

    ODB, Mom! I am sitting in the eye Dr’s office reading this on my phone with tears streaming down my face. What a beautiful tribute to MomMom, a truly remarkable woman for sure! We were blessed for many, many years weren’t we?! I love you and am proud of your ability to touch MomMom’s life in a way many others never could have. YOU were a BLESSING to her…always remember that!

    • Thanks, sweetie. She was pretty remarkable. I look forward to seeing her in heaven, now that she fully understands what we’ve been trying to tell her all these years.

      Love you, Mom

  8. Dixie Meeks says:

    What a blessing , thank you for sharing your memories of “Mil”. Our God is faithful to call His own unto Himself. What love & tender mercy. Blessings to you and all your family. Dixie

  9. Pat Bair says:

    Thank you for sharing the loving tribute to “Mil”…

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