Janice Ellen Wheeler, May 27, 1935 – March 14, 2022.
My brother called on March 14, I answered, he paused, then slowly enunciated, mom has died. He shared the few details he had, she hadn’t shown up for their weekly breakfast meeting, he asked her apartment to do a wellness check and that’s when they found she had died. Mom is no longer here.
The announcement of death is, in my experience, always a gut punch. My brothers and I all live a vibrant faith in Jesus, we revel in the hope of the resurrection. Mom was a model of faith, love, and hope. Still, death creates a void in the present. We knew mom’s health was fragile. We knew the two years of COVID isolation and restrictions were wearing on her. We were working to get her more help in cleaning and monitoring her health. We were calling more, picking her up for visits, and talking with one another to ensure she was not isolated from us. And that is part of the void of death – she is not here anymore. Faith never exempts one from experiencing life. Faith provides that anchor and stamina needed to engage, endure, survive, and thrive. Faith moves us toward healing in the face of pain, deliverance in the face of oppression, and hope and comfort in the face of loss and cynicism. Mom is no longer here.
I saw in my mom’s eyes the reflection of hopes and dreams for a family. I saw patience and a commitment to Christ that is personal and real. I saw sensitivity to others and commitment to excellence and a job well done.
Mom’s eyes shone with the reflection of generations living out the hope, faith, and love that have carried and sustained her in trial and triumph, conquest and defeat, and contentment and loss.
These things made her special to me. She was a woman of many talents. She was excellent in her pursuits and vibrant as a woman of faith and ministry. She was a wife of commitment and deep abiding love. She was a co-laborer of many and a healer of broken lives. She set captives free with her warmth and belief that Christ liberates any who will come to him.
But for me, she was my first healer of wounds, comfort in trauma, model of grace and strength. When you see me, I hope I reflect these characteristics of my mom. I love you mom and I am proud to call you this dearest and cherished of names – my mom. I miss you.