Gladys Peck

We gather here this afternoon to remember the life and mourn the loss of Gladys L. Peck.  Today we celebrate Gladys’ spirit and her heart.  As we do so, we look to the Word of God for comfort and for hope.

Psalm 103:13-18 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows no more.  But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

The Apostle Paul wrote these appropriate words:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in his presence…Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Will you pray with me?

Gracious Father, we turn to you this day to find comfort and strength in time of loss.  As we come to you we find ourselves filled with a variety of emotions: sadness, regret, frustration, and a profound loneliness.  Please help us in our time of need.   Grant, our Father, that we might be strengthened in faith for the future, even as we remember and celebrate the past.  We ask these things in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Gladys Peck was born Gladys L. Driskell on August 14, 1912 near Raritan, Illinois, She was the daughter of Ray and Estella Gaumer Driskell. She was a graduate of Blandinsville High School. Gladys was never afraid of hard work.  She gave much of her time to caring for people in their homes.  Often she would be taking care of a person all week long and she would come home to her own family on the weekends.  I guess she felt she was doing what she had to do to take care of her girls.

On October 16, 1948 she married Kenneth Peck in Carthage, Illinois. She had a great time with Kenneth.  According to Gladys, they met at a dance and after their marriage they went to dances a few times a week.  Later, Gladys went to work at the school cafeteria for 15 years, first in Terre Haute then in LaHarpe, retiring in 1981. She also cleaned the Durham schoolhouse.  Gladys wasn’t one of those people who sat around and did nothing.  She always had to be busy.

For a period of time Kenneth and Gladys’ mother were in the Nursing home at the same time.  This is when I met Gladys.  Every day for 11 years with her mother, and 9 years with Kenneth, she came to the Nursing home for mealtimes to take care of her family.  She seldom missed a day or a mealtime unless she was sick.  She cared for both her mother and her husband right up until the time they died.  Kenneth died on Dec. 21, 1989.

Even after the death of her mother and her husband Gladys continued to volunteer at the Nursing home.  She was eager to bring comfort to those who needed it.

Gladys had a number of health problems over the years battling heart disease and cancer.  Many of us remember seeing Gladys walking all over town getting her exercise for her heart.  She refused to give in to any limitation.

Gladys loved to dress up.  Her favorite color was red.  You would always see her wearing a dress and on Sundays she often also wore a hat.  She enjoyed playing cards at the Senior Center and loved to cook.  There are many people who knew Gladys Peck as the pie lady.  She was constantly making pies and giving them to others.  I enjoyed several of those pies myself.  Even when she was in the Nursing home in LaHarpe she made pies for the staff.  In Roseville she still wanted to make some pies.

Gladys was . . . . feisty.  She had no trouble sharing her opinion.  She wasn’t going to be pushed around by anyone.  Gladys loved to tease, had a great sense of humor, and had that loud infectious cackle.  She always loved the opportunity to go visit her girls.

Gladys Peck was a caring woman.  Every year at Christmas she would call the house and tell me that there was a ham waiting for me at the grocery store.  She cared about people.  Even these last couple of years in Roseville she was trying to help those who were around her.  She was a member of the Union Church of LaHarpe and helped with funeral dinners and was always volunteering to bake something.

Gladys was fortunate to have a number of friends and neighbors who cared for her.  Isabel Livermore was a dear friend and caring helper, Dean and Carolyn Moore, Jake and Mary Snelson, Ryan Kienast and many others made it possible for Gladys to stay in her home as long as she did.  She appreciated and thanked God for her friends.  Gladys Peck was a unique, spirited, fun, and special woman.

She is survived by 2 daughters,

Beverly Maddox of Houston, Texas and

Gloria Brown of Fisher, Illinois,

5 grandchildren, Clifford Foster, Pamela Slavik, Douglas Maddox, Randy Brown and Kevin Brown,

7 great-grandchildren, 6 great-great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Gladys died on Thursday, February 24th at 3:05 p.m.  She was preceded in death by her husband and 3 brothers, Calvin, Wendell and Robert Driskell and her parents.  She was 92 years old.

SONG

There are several purposes for a funeral service.

First, A funeral service helps us face the reality of death and the fact that life is short.  All around us we face those who try to avoid the reality of death.  We have surgery to make us look younger, we take pills to prolong our lives, we exercise to keep fit.  Even when someone dies we work hard to make him or her look like they are still alive.  We’d like to believe death is not real.

As we sit here today we have to face the fact that death is real.    There is nothing at all that we can do to escape the fact that death is real and will come into every life.  It was Moses who wrote,

 The length of our days is seventy years—

or eighty, if we have the strength;

yet their span a is but trouble

and sorrow,

for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

11 Who knows the power of your anger?

For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

12 Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:10-12)

Facing the shortness of life and the certainty of death helps us to re-align our priorities.  Many of the things that we fret about, stew about, and find ourselves miserable over are really things that are little.  They are not worth wasting our time on.

Gladys seemed to know what was important.  She accepted the obstacles that came her way and adjusted to them.  She saw beyond the petty things and tried to enjoy the journey.

Our task today is to remind ourselves that this life is temporary and we shouldn’t waste it on things that don’t ultimately matter.

Second, we have a funeral so we can comfort each other.  Loss is always difficult.  At the time of death we inevitably are faced with sadness and regret.  It is hard to know what life will be like without the one we have loved.

By gathering together we give each other strength.  Today we can stir up the memories.  We remember the days when Gladys was healthy.  We can share hugs and tears and help each other make the difficult adjustments of loss.  A shared loss is half of a loss.

The third reason we get together is to renew our hope.  I don’t know why it is, but we tend to push the eternal things aside.  On this day the death and resurrection of Jesus matters more than ever.  Today we want to know, we need to know: is there life beyond the grave?

Today we look to the promise of Jesus who said to the sisters of Lazarus,

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)

Later Jesus said to His disciples,

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  (John 14:1-3)

The promise of the Bible is that those who have placed their trust, not in their own goodness, not in their religious deeds, but who trust in what Christ has done on our behalf, these people will live beyond the grave.  In fact, they will not only live . . . they will flourish.

Is it wishful thinking?  I don’t think so.  Jesus died and was raised from the dead.  He has gone before us; He has opened the door.  Those who trust in Him will enjoy the splendors of heaven.  In the last book of the Bible God says,

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 20:3,4)

If Gladys truly trusted in Jesus Christ . . . and I think she did . . .then this is not a sad day for her; it is the best day of all.  She is set free from her limitations and set free to dance, laugh, and enjoy like she never has before.

Today is the day for you and me to think about the eternal.  We must ask if we have placed our trust truly in Jesus Christ.  What may not seem to have mattered much before . . . matters much more now.

So, we have gathered to face the reality of death and the temporary nature of life.  We gather to comfort and help each other in our time of need.  And we come together to testify of our hope that there is life beyond the grave.

It’s become somewhat of an overused story but because of Gladys’ love of pies it seems like a fitting conclusion.

A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral service, what Scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.

As the pastor prepared to leave, the woman suddenly remembered something else. “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.

“What’s that?” said the pastor.

“This is important,” the woman said. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

“So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, ‘What’s with the fork?’ I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!’ “

This is our hope.  This is our confidence. This is our comfort.  Through faith we trust that we are not saying good-bye to Gladys Peck.  Rather, we say: We’ll see you later.

Let’s pray.

Our gracious Father, what a spirited and interesting person you created when you created Gladys.  We thank you for her spirit, her grit, her heart, and her faith.  We ask you to welcome her into the Kingdom that you have prepared for all who put their faith in you.  Tell her that we miss her and love her.

Help this family.  Help them to remember the days when Gladys was alert, vibrant and healthy.  Help them to remember the good times and to see the difficult times with new eyes.  Help them to draw strength from each other.

And help us all as confront the days that we have left.  Help us to see the future with perspective.  Deliver us from the petty things so we can pursue the important things. Help us to trust you.  Help us to believe and place our trust in the promise of our Savior Jesus.

Protect and keep us until that day when we meet again in your house.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.