Remarks by Edna's children at the 1/17/09 Memorial service:.
Remarks by Theodore A. (Ted) Johns (hear the mp3):
It's hard to know exactly what words to
say so as to do justice to the memory of the angel that has just left
us. Anyone blessed enough to have loved and been loved by my mother
knows that there's really no way to crystallize in a few minutes how
special she was.
To me, Mom's greatest strength was the ability to make people feel
special. So many of us felt such a strong bond with her; I know I, for
one, catch myself foolishly wanting to believe I held some sort of extra
special top place in her heart. But that was really her brilliance,
wasn't it? Mom/Grandmom/Aunt Ted/Edna: Whatever your relationship with
her, you were made to feel a king or a queen.
Mom and I shared birth positions as youngest in our families. Maybe this
gave us an extra special bond, maybe it didn't. It doesn't matter – she
made me feel like it did.
Not long ago, I was going through a box Mom had sent me filled with
childhood mementos: a baby book, grade school artwork, news clippings
and the like. In this box were the five hospital ID bracelets she had
saved from the five times I sent her to the hospital with false labor
before I finally came into the world. A challenge from the start, I
guess. And this to a nearly forty-two-year-old, a time when most women
have put the efforts of nursing and diaper changes behind them. As an
adult and a father, I find this incredible, but as a child, I was
unaware. Mom was more energetic and vital than mothers decades younger.
She only made me feel I had the most loving, caring,
talented, tireless and experienced mother in the world.
For all four of us, Mom always did more than babysit; she participated.
When we were young, she'd get on the floor and play our games with us.
Teach us. Laugh with us. Compete with us. When we got a little older,
she befriended our friends. People always wanted to come to our house
for sleepovers. There weren't just chocolate chips in those pancakes,
there was love. As we got older, she genuinely loved our spouses as her
own and shared her gifts with our children. Selfishly, I wish my
children could have some more.
When Mom was sixty-nine and I had just finished medical school, she
called me and asked if I had time to go to Disneyworld since neither of
us had ever been. Just me and her. She ran me into the ground through
rain and shine and it was one of the sweetest times of my life. If you
have no better way to remember my mother, picture her as a sixty-nine
year old teenager running around in the rain wearing a
yellow Mickey Mouse poncho.
For the past many years, Mom and I shared the crossword puzzles
together. We'd discuss them over the phone since I was out of town.
Seems like such a simple thing, but those puzzles branched to deeper
conversations that were oh so special. When I started puzzling, it was
in large part a way to guarantee some Mom-time. If you knew my mother,
and I hope you did, cherish your memories of her. If you didn't know
Mom, I am truly sorry; you missed something irreplaceable.
I only wish we could all have some more Mom-time now.
by Robert A. (Rob) Johns (hear the mp3):
We're gathered today to remember and pay tribute to a very special lady.
Some of you knew her quite well and for a long time while others were
denied that privilege. On behalf of my family, we are extremely pleased
that you are here in her honor.
God, our Heavenly Father, made himself very apparent in my mom's last
months, weeks ,and days, through various signs and actions. I want to
personally thank the staff of Aberdeen Village and Grace Hospice, who
selflessly cared for Mom with a Godly graciousness that maximized her
comfort and dignity. The care Mom received was a reflection of that
which she gave throughout her life. It was reflected in the nurturing of
her kids and grandkids, all of whom were treated in such a way that each
thought they were her favorite. It was reflected in her service in
Stephen Ministry, in her years of caregiving for my dad after his spinal
cord injury, and in her devotion to all the special friendships she
cultivated over the years.
A few years ago, when it was time to license our car, my wife chose a
personalized plate which read ZEPH317. She chose it because our son,
Scott, had read to her from his Bible from the book of Zephaniah,
chapter 3 verse 17, and because a friend had shared with her how her own
son had read that very verse to her for encouragement.
On Tuesday, when Patsy opened Mom's devotional to read to her, the
scripture was Zephaniah 3:17—
"The Lord your God is with you, he is
mighty to save. He will
take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He
will rejoice over you with singing."
While some may write this off as
coincidence, I choose to believe it to be a poignant example of God's
attention to detail.
On a slightly lighter note, many of you know that Mom enjoyed,
immensely, solving crossword puzzles and shared that love with friends
and family. On Wednesday, as I sat in her room reflecting, I picked up
that day's New York Times puzzle. Somehow, I felt it an appropriate way
to spend time with Mom. The third clue I looked at was 5 Down, given my
random-scan, non-systematic approach to crosswording. The clue was part
of a palindrome, and after a few moments thought, I figured out that the
four letter answer was E-D-N-A. I congratulated Mom on making it into
the puzzle and, while it was not a great spiritual moment, I will
remember and cherish it forever.
Finally, as I entered Mom's room after returning from lunch on
Wednesday, I heard emanating softly from the CD player the words to
"Beautiful Savior", one of many hymns on a CD that we had brought to her
room only a few hours before and one which Mom had made very clear to us
years ago that she wanted as part of her memorial service. Only then did
I notice my sister's sobs and realize that Mom had just drawn her last
breaths while her favorite hymn was playing.
God's timing and plan are perfect. He blessed this world with Mom nearly
84 years ago. She blessed us with her love. And she is now blessed with
the joy of eternal life in heaven.
by Chris Johns (hear the mp3):
I am Christine Anne Johns Mathews, Edna’s 1st born and her daughter.
What a special privilege that has been! Mom was my dear friend, my
sounding board, my teacher, my example. The phrase “I am becoming just
like my mother” is not a joke or curse for me, but a high compliment. I
desire my life to contain the character qualities embodied in hers.
In Matthew 22:36-37 Jesus tells us “‘Love the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the
first and greatest commandment.” As a daughter, granddaughter and sister
to Lutheran Ministers, Mom was ingrained with a deep Faith in God. She
spent countless hours in personal Bible Study and prayer over her
lifetime. Many of you can attest to the additional time she devoted to
serving the Lord inside this church building and out in the community.
Mom, thank you for the example of making Faith central to existence on
Jesus continues in Matthew 22 “And the second is like it: ’Love your
neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two
commandments.” Edna Caroline Shealy Johns loved people. Thank you, Mom,
for teaching us to put into action heart felt feelings for others. Each
of you could come up with your own experience of the love with which Mom
touched your life. She actually made the phone call, wrote the
comforting note, found time to sit and visit. She selflessly made
I close with the words of Mom’s first grandchild, my son Drew.
“As our world continues to crumble under the weight of corrupt
individuality, we are surely indebted to those truly special people who
buck the trend and tip the scales toward what is true and noble and
right. These people lose their individual lives in an effort to serve
others, influencing enough fellow citizens to retain at least a remnant
of excellence on the earth. Sometimes such influence comes in an overt
fashion, from podiums and best-sellers, but the most pervasive and
lasting influence flows through everyday circumstances, in the
nitty-gritty events of life that are not always highlighted. It is found
in the form of subtle, unassuming consistency of character that often is
not fully appreciated until it is gone. This only begins to paint the
picture of Edna Johns, my dear grandmother, to whom no one else
compares….No more memories will be made, but Grandmom’s influence will
continue to multiply exponentially. I hope that Grandmom makes us
realize that life doesn’t have to continually deteriorate, that perhaps
we are not supposed to passively watch our world crumble. May she remind
us that through faith in Christ, and the work of His Holy Spirit, we can
truly participate in a glorious kingdom in which splendor is unlimited.”
Edna and Leo Johns
(with Golda von Kaiserstein I) - 1951