CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF
Mrs. Amy Jean Ward
"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
St. Andrew’s United Church, Williamstown
Thursday February 28, 2002 at 11 a.m.
Minister: Rev. Andrea Harrison
To go directly to Eulogy by Maureen Ward, click here (or scroll down through the service)
A human life is sacred.
It is sacred in its being born.
It is sacred in its living.
And it is sacred in its dying.
The sorrow and joy of life weave a tapestry of our individual lives as death gathers us once again into a blessed community.
We come to bid farewell to Amy Ward – a woman who was well loved, and very much a part of the tapestry of this community.
We come to search for life’s deepest meanings.
We come to seek the comfort and healing of God’s presence, and the presence of each other as we share sorrow and joy.
We come to say "yes" to life’s greatest expression—Love.
Love believes all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Today we must grieve Amy’s death. But we must also celebrate Amy’s life. Though our grief is strong and we must mourn, we will not let the shadow of death obscure the living person who touched us many times, in many ways, filling our lives with memories, meaning, and love.
Let us be wise enough and let us be brave enough, this morning to honestly remember and bravely celebrate a human life—the life that was Amy’s life.
May God, our source of life and love, be encountered in the midst of our grieving to give us strength, comfort, and courage to embrace life in the face of death.
Hymn: "Lord of All Hopefulness"
Prayer of Approach
Creator God, as we come together to recognize the end of a life we have known and to reflect upon its meaning, move within us with the assurance that in death, no less than in life itself those we have loved are in your hands. Be with us now as we remember the life of Amy Ward, who lived among us a life of compassion and good will, and loved her family dearly.
Help us to celebrate, in this time of remembering, the love that was so much a part of Amy, and that makes her death a painful loss. As we celebrate that love, may there be a sense of healing, for we know that love once known is never lost, but continues to enrich our lives, and empowers us into new possibilities in the future. Amen
First Reading: Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – Read by Susan
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Third Reading: John 14:1-3, 18-20
"Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." …
"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father , and you in me, and I in you."
Poem: "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"
by Dylan Thomas – read by Joan P. MacDonald
Ministry of Music – Lois Gaudet
Eulogies: Gladys Donelon
Everyone here knew Amy. She was a friend to many people, a co-worker, sister, aunt, Grandmother and mother. She was my mom.
I want to share with you how I feel about her life and what it meant to me. We are all children of parents and often it is only as an adult that we begin to appreciate the role they had in shaping who we become. In my mother's struggle I had an opportunity to reflect on and appreciate all the wonderful things she did for all of us.
No matter where my mom was, whether in the city or country she had an understanding of how life and nature worked together, hand in hand. On the West Island of Montreal she would take us to the woods at the end of the street to pick brambleberries for pies. On family drives, she never missed an opportunity to bring the car to a halt, leap out and pick sprigs of bittersweet and pussywillows from the roadside ditches. On the farm, she loved to walk the fields in early fall mornings, looking for field mushrooms.
One spring, when I was in kindergarten she brought in an incubator to show all the children the miracle of chicks hatching. She did this again years later at the Williamstown Fair - always wanting to share with other children and turn the ordinary into something special.
In the summers, my mom would spend hours batting balls out on the street for my brother, Cameron and I and our neighbourhood friends. And out of this grew my mom's role in starting the West Island girls softball league, now a city-wide league of over 400 teams. When we came to Glengarry this same spirit of encouraging young people to play started the evening badminton league at Charlan, still carrying on I think after nearly 30 years.
The first moonwalk was made special to us by my mom setting up the television in the backyard so that we could see the moon and the images on the screen at the same time.
In 1970, with four kids in tow, one still in diapers, my mom packed up the tent trailer and drove us out to Alberta to where she had grown up. She was in no hurry, making stops along the way, so that we could enjoy the adventure.
Our life changed quite dramatically when we moved to the farm. And this showed to me yet another side of my mother - her keen savvy of farming and rural life. I remember waking up at 2am one weeknight from the sound of the car pulling into the drive. I heard the trunk pop open and the bleating of two small calves. That was my mom back from a successful round of bidding down at the Lancaster Auction barn - and the start of our herd of cattle.
In winter, to save newborn calves from freezing, my mom would carry them into the back room of the house. There she'd warm them up and dry them off with her hairdryer and curling broom. Then, pulling my brother's long hockey socks over their gangly legs she'd carry them back out to the barn for feeding.
Our mother was a born problem solver and challenged us to be the same. When we couldn't find something, she taught us not to proclaim "it's not there," but instead to say "I can't seem to see it," and to keep looking. She also challenged us to work hard and economize, something we'd tease her about as we'd come across jars of fruit jellies in the cupboard, won from some curling bonspiel years past.
Living in Williamstown, my mom found a welcoming community of which she quickly became part. Farming, community sports, social activities, substitute teaching and volunteering were all encompassed in her seemingly endless energy and her will to share and be helpful.
My mom had no shortage of suggestions for how she could enrich and expand existing activities. The Williamstown Fair for her was something special and many of her suggestions like the children's area and the Tea Garden have become part of how the Fair is today.
Curling was also a passion for her. And as many people in the community know, she was very involved in the Club and took her turn as President. Even when she was no longer actively curling, she still played a role in organizing two bonspiels to raise awareness and funds for leukemia and the Little Angels Bone Marrow Transplant Fund. I think this act will become part of her legacy as a community member who shared something that was her personal challenge and turned it into something from which others could benefit.
My mom's work in real estate, which was more of a vocation than a career, was yet another way of how her strong sense of community was always the bottom line. She didn't just sell folks houses, she did her best to find them a home and a place in the community.
It wasn't all work. Just ask Joan & Coleman (MacDonald) . It wasn't unusual for my mom and dad to be coming home in the wee hours full of cheer. The next morning we'd hear tales of how they played Chinese fire drills on the way Down East, or how Coleman had played a trick on my dad and hid his car.
As a grandmother, I could see once again all the wonderful things that she had done with us, she was now sharing with my nephews and niece. More likely to be making felt toy farmyards with her grandson, Tyler than to be watching TV, she gave him the gift of creative play and a vivid imagination. I could see that you didn't have to go very far to find richness and beauty.
The last couple of years for me have been very difficult watching my mom in her illness. But it has also been a time of great joy and thankfulness, for being able to spend time with her and return a measure of the love, care and concern that she had for us. During this time, I was able to see yet again sides of my mother that only deepened my love for her and amazement of her.
She was an extraordinary patient, never demanding or wanting for much but always on the ball. She kept the nursing staff on their toes, as with so many facets of her life she seemed to be always one step ahead of them, sometimes gently reminding them about the timing for a new medication or the stats of her last blood counts. When the opportunity arose she visited with other patients during her stays in the hospital, offering them words of encouragement and her doctor's sign of the two thumbs up. She didn't mind being in the hospital but she loved getting home again. Even if it was only for a day between chemo treatments, my mom would drive herself home and leave early enough the next day to pick a basket of fresh strawberries (hyw 34) for the nurses.
My mom never once complained. She took each new challenge of her illness as she had all the through her life - with a sense of calmness and resolve that the practical approach was the best way to overcome adversity. My mom's optimism and seemingly endless will to survive and not give in, was why whenever I left her, I never said goodbye but, "I'll see you later."
I know my mom was very thankful to her family and friends for all the love and support over these last few years. She had prepared a little speech to do at the Little Angels bonspiel a few weeks ago. In the end she couldn't do it but beforehand she asked me to read it. I looked for that bit of paper to share that with you now, but my mother has many scraps of envelopes, and if we ever find it, those words will be precious to us as an expression of her gratitude.
She had begun with thanking her family, for Bryan and Anne for selling their home and moving in with her to help her through these times. For letting her be a grandmother to her beloved Tyler and to Steven. She thanked Cameron for visiting with his family and Susan for flying home from England so many times to be with her. And me, for coming down to be with her on weekends and help her during her stays in the hospital. Her sisters for their care and concern. She was grateful to her friends and clients for their support and words of encouragement and for keeping her in their prayers. And Joan and Coleman for being such dear friends for over thirty years, for including her in so many outings and family events. She thanked all the bonspiel participants, her doctors and nurses and her cancer drivers who spent long hours driving and waiting for her during her apppointments.
And I'd like to thank all of you for coming to say goodbye to Amy, our mom, and to share in this celebration of her life.
Maureen Ward, February 28, 2002, St. Andrew's United Church, Williamstown
Story: Winnie the Pooh – read by Bryan Ward
In Which Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There
Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out "Pooh!"
"Yes?" said Pooh.
"When I'm - when - Pooh!"
"Yes, Christopher Robin?"
"I'm not going to do Nothing any more."
"Well, not so much. They don't let you."
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
"Yes, Christopher Robin?" said Pooh helpfully.
"Pooh, when I'm - you know - when I'm not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?"
"Will you be here too?"
"Yes, Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh."
"That's good," said Pooh.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
"I promise," he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's paw.
"Pooh,"said Chirsopher Robin earnestly, "if I - if I'm not quite----" he stopped and tried again -
"Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Oh, nothing." He lauged and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"
"Where?" said Pooh.
"Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
The passing of time is a little bit scary. Things change. We change, and just as each of us were born one day, someday we will die. We don’t like to think about that because it is scary. And we don’t like to lose the people we love, because we miss them so much.
Christopher Robin had moments when he worried about the future. He worried that he and Pooh bear might not always be together. He made Pooh promise not to forget him. Pooh promised. Christopher looked out at the world, and knew, as he reached out for Pooh bear’s paw, that they would change and grow old. But that would be for later. For now, they would play together, the two best friends.
In one of the Disney versions of a Winnie the Pooh story, Pooh bear discovers that even when he is apart from Christopher Robin, Christopher Robin is with him in his heart.
Jesus’ friends worried about these things too. Jesus had told them that he was soon going to die. His friends didn’t want him to die, and they didn’t know what they would do without him. Jesus tried to reassure his friends, just as Christopher Robin and Pooh bear tried to reassure each other. Jesus told his friends that after he died, he was going to be with God. God was Jesus’ best friend, so Jesus wasn’t afraid of dying. Jesus said that beyond the life that we know, there is a place where God lives, like a big house, that has room for all of us.
Jesus tells his friends that when he gets there, he will prepare a place for them. He also tells them, that in time, they will know that even though they are apart, they are still in each other’s hearts
Amy, mom, grandma is gone from this life, which is very sad, because she is not here to play with you, curl with you, organize a community event, or sell you a home. But as you look up at the night sky, to that big, big expanse of space, let your imagination take you to another place where all the people you have loved and lost are now living. It’s a place where you don’t need bodies any more. A place of pure energy and no matter. No need for planets to live on, or feet to walk on, or food to eat, or sports equipment with which to play. A dimension in which the spirits live in intimate communion with each other and God, with none of the distractions of bodies or things. It’s a fine place to live. We usually call this place heaven.
While heaven is wonderful, having a body and living on earth is pretty great too. While in heaven, it might be convenient to not have to worry about buying groceries and preparing meals, or having to stop playing to sit down and eat, just think about your favourite food – a Christmas dinner, a chocolate chip cookie, Lancaster perch? Can you imagine never having a chance to taste that food? Can you imagine never having a chance to watch the sunset, or to hug someone you love? Can you imagine never having a chance to read books, or play games or sports? Can you imagine never having the joy of truly helping someone in this life. While life in heaven, we might presume, is divine, this life is also to be treasured.
Amy didn’t want to leave this life. Who could blame her, for that would mean leaving you, and leaving all that this life has to offer. And I am sure there were many things Amy still wanted to do.
The Amy you have known and loved now lives on in spirit. She is in your hearts, and you are in her heart. She is just a breath away. You can’t see her with your eyes, or touch her with your hands, but you can feel her in your heart. When you play those favourite games, read those favourite stories, or get the sudden impulse to pick bittersweet, she is there in your heart, and you are in her heart.
One day, we too will be spirits; we will leave our bodies to become the pure energy of our souls again, but in the meantime, let’s enjoy the gift of this life, and try, as Amy did, to live life to the fullest.
Hymn: #291 "All Things Bright and Beautiful"
Prayers of the People
Let us pray:
Eternal God, we give thanks for the blessings of life, and we thank you that you watch over us in life, in death, and in life beyond death.
We give thanks for the life of Amy Ward. We give thanks for the love, friendship, joy, and determination she shared with us. We pray that she will always live on in our hearts, and that her example will inspire us in our commitments to family, friends and community.
We pray for those who will miss Amy the most, especially her family and closest friends. We pray for you in your loneliness and pain, in your conflict and loss. May the gentle Spirit of God soothe you and give you hope, so that you can embrace life.
And now, as we remember and say a farewell to Amy, let us be confident and trusting that human life is full of meaning and purpose, and that beyond this life the human spirit is free to soar to new heights.
Hear us now as together we pray the prayer that Jesus taught:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory,
forever and ever, Amen.
Holy God, by your creative power you have given us the gift of life, and in your redeeming love you have promised to be with us in life, in death, and in life beyond death.
You only are fully immortal, Creator of all.
Our bodies are mortal, formed of ancient star dust that has become our earth, and to that earth, our bodies shall return.
We should celebrate that the elements of the cosmos—the inanimate, soulless stuff of stars—came together and became the living and loving person who was Amy Ward.
We now commend Amy to your merciful keeping; her mortal body to be returned to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, star dust to star dust; and we entrust her soul to your everlasting care.
Go peacefully into that abiding place prepared for us.
Go gently into God’s deeper presence.
Go confidently into that communion of saints surrounding us all;
and may they hold you precious until we meet again.
Closing Hymn: # 352 "I Danced in the Morning"
An Irish Blessing - read by Cameron
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May the peace that passes understanding,
The peace of the Spirit that rises above all the strains of the earth,
Be with us now and forevermore.
Go now in the peace of Christ. Amen