We gather today to remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the life of Maxine Clover. We want to draw comfort from each other and from the sure hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the Bible we read these words,
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. (John 11:25-26)
The Apostle Paul wrote,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul wrote about the resurrection,
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
The consistent and persistent message of God’s Word is that this life is not all there is. The way you become sure of eternal life is to place your trust and hope in the sacrifice of Christ, who died on our behalf, and then follow Him. He says those who come to Him will not be tossed aside.
This is our confidence and comfort as we sift through a myriad of feelings and memories. This is only the end of one chapter in a story of Maxine’s life that continues forever. Let’s pray together,
Our Father, we bow before you today and give thanks for the confidence that we have, through Christ, that this life is not all that there is. Today we gather with mixed emotions. On the one hand we are grateful for Maxine’s 99 years and that she did not linger between life and death. On the other hand, this is still a very significant loss. So we seek your comfort. Remind us again of the richness of your promises. Help us to remember the blessing we have had in our lives because of Maxine. Stand beside us and grant the peace that we crave. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Maxine E. Ailes Clover, was born on November 24, 1916 the daughter of Robert and Jenora Rice Ailes. She was born on the farm where she lived almost all her life. In April of 1917 the United States entered World War I. Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States.
Maxine remembers her parents as always supportive and present. She shared a room with her two sisters. Their home had no furnace and no electricity. Her parents worked hard to provide a good home for them. She saw a lot of change over the course of her lifetime. Maxine was close to her sisters and appreciated how hard her parents worked to provide for the family.
Maxine met Lowell while they were in school. He was a senior and she was a freshman. Their first date was to a basketball game. Maxine graduated in1934 from LaHarpe High School. She graduated from the Burlington Protestant Hospital School of Nurses, in 1938. Maxine and Lowell were dating off and on during this time. They did this for six years. When asked how Lowell proposed, Maxine’s response was “He said I proposed” which of course is neither an admission or a denial. Either way, on January 21, 1940 Lowell K. Clover and Maxine E. Ailes were married in Middletown, IA.
They had 4 children. They all helped on the farm and the family was well taken care of.
Lowell developed ALS which was a devastating blow to the entire family. Maxine took care of her husband without a complaint. For the final two years he could not speak and she had to do everything for him. In love, that is what she did. He preceded her in death on April 26, 1983.
Maxine was a member of the former Disco Methodist Church where she played the piano for many years. She currently was an active member of the Union Church. She was also active in the Kum Join Us Class of the Union Church, and a member or former member of the Disco Embroidery Club, the Jane Delano Henderson County Republican Women, Henderson County Home Extension, and the Bible Study Group with the Terre Haute women.
Maxine died early on Saturday, February 6 in the same home she lived in for all but six years of her life.
She is survived by three daughters, Sherry (Gary) Butler of LaHarpe, IL, Marilyn (Roger) Jackson of LaHarpe, Jeanette (Jim) Ford of LaHarpe, one son, Steven (Denita) Clover of Dallas City, five granddaughters, three grandsons, two step-grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.
She was preceded by her husband Lowell, her parents, and her two sisters, Jane Burg and Neola Brandt.
Maxine Clover was a unique and special woman. She was wonderfully talented. She made probably hundreds of quilts, afghans, and embroidered pillows. She was a good seamstress and made many of the clothes her children wore.
Maxine was a soft mom with Sherry and Marilyn. When Sherry was young, Maxine would ride the horse out to the field (toting Sherry) to bring the guys a meal. As the family grew the horse was put away and Maxine was busy as a mom. When Jeanette and Steve came along Maxine was more stern in her discipline. She would be quick to let you know if you were doing something she didn’t think was right. She was a creative disciplinarian. When Sherry would do something Maxine didn’t approve of she would tell Sherry to wash down the wood in her room! Sherry always had clean wood in her room!
Maxine loved being married to Lowell. They had a good life together. She wasn’t interested in doing field work on the farm but she was busy, cooking, cleaning, choring, and giving bottles to new calves. She always made big meals and was a superb cook. However, if dinner was at noon she expected you to be ready to eat at noon! This was true for the workers or for meals with the entire family. Maxine made fried chicken every Sunday.
Lowell wanted to be an outdoors-man he liked the idea of traveling. Maxine was less enthusiastic. He bought a boat and if Maxine had been open to the idea he would have eventually purchased an RV to travel around the country. Unfortunately, Lowell’s illness came before they could debate the merits of this idea. They were able to get a couple of bus trips in before they were unable to travel anymore.
Maxine was not a real big fan of Lowell’s boat. When they took the boat out “for fun”, she had to make a meal and snacks and get the kids ready to go on the “fun” boat trip on the Mississippi. It was a lot of work for her. However, Maxine was all about family. If this is what Lowell wanted to do with the family . . . well then, that is what they should do. She was a true helpmate to her husband.
When Lowell was diagnosed with ALS her nursing training was put to good use. She cared for Lowell with love and patience. I’m sure there were many days when she wanted to scream at God . . . but then again, that wasn’t her style. She accepted life for what it was.
When her sisters were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries (they were all married within a 12 month period) Maxine was a little melancholy. It was evident that she missed Lowell more than she would ever let on.
When her home was destroyed by a tornado on May 13, 1995 Maxine did not complain or curse God. When she came out of the basement, she picked up a broom and started to begin the clean-up process. Later when she and Philip were cleaning out the basement freezer Philip told her how sorry he was that this happened to her. Her response was simple: We don’t have time for this right now! Maxine did not spend time moaning about things she could not change. She was always moving forward. She received the moniker, “tough grandma”.
Maxine was touched by all the help that came in from all over after the tornado. There was even a High School class that came down from Aurora to help in the clean-up. People rallied from all over to help and that made an impression on Maxine. After that experience she was much more intentional about finding ways to help and support others.
Maxine was a young 99! She enjoyed her family immensely. She enjoyed the newest members of the family as well as continuing to spend time with her children. She still had a mind that could keep track of what was happening in the lives of others. She loved, cared for, and was concerned about everyone in the family
Her care went beyond the family however. There were many farm hands who worked at the farm over the years. Maxine not only cared for the men who worked . . . she also cared for their families. She kept in contact with many of these people long after they had moved away. She had a way of impacting your life.
She tried to see the best in people. It wasn’t that she overlooked something they were doing wrong. She was bold enough to tell you quite clearly what she thought. However, she didn’t hold someone’s past against them. She was all about the present. There is nothing you can do about the past so there was no use focusing on it!
You might not know that from talking to her on the phone. There were times when she would be done talking and hang up the phone without even saying goodbye. When she said, “I guess I don’t have anything new to add” you needed to be prepared because the conversation was ending! It wasn’t that Maxine was rude. She just had little use for small talk. She didn’t like to waste time. Even in Bible Study she felt you shouldn’t spend too much time on any one verse. She did not want to “discuss something to death” she wanted to keep moving. She was the Bible Study timekeeper. They should start on time and had to end on time.
She was energetic and determined. One day she and a friend walked home FROM BURLINGTON! I believe she was 21 or 22 at the time. They did that because they thought it would be fun! She loved family dinners and took great pride in getting everything ready. If you told her you would be over to help her set up on Saturday, she would set up on Friday. She had a wonderful gift of hospitality. She loved to entertain. The Kum-Join-Us Class used to love to come to her house for a brunch. Maxine loved having her family around. She said she really liked her Grandchildren and great-grandchildren because she didn’t have to raise them . . . just enjoy them. And enjoy them, she did.
Maxine was a woman filled with practical wisdom. She had seen all kinds of change in her life. She lived through some tough times. She was a wise woman and I am sure her family is richer because of it. She believed if you didn’t have the money for something, you didn’t need it. She believed in working hard, being on time, and keeping your promises. She believed you can choose your attitude. She knew that her faith in God was her foundation.
Maxine was always busy. She didn’t watch much television. She could always find something to do. Even at 99 she really didn’t think of herself as old. She wanted to dress young and wanted to live like a young person. She was still vital and involved. There are not many 99-year-old people who could bring out a crowd like the one that was at the visitation last night!
Maxine loved flowers and gardening. When Steve decided to not till a garden because Maxine “shouldn’t be out gardening any more” Maxine planted “mini-gardens” all over! When the kids said she shouldn’t be driving to Burlington any more she drove to Fort Madison instead!
Maxine Clover had a great sense of humor. A giant heart. A genuine love for her family. She loved life and was not afraid of death. She was proud of her children. She loved to have people in her home. She savored life. She was the kind of person who took a big bite of life and was unashamed to let the juice run down her chin! And she was grateful to God for all the blessings she had received in her life. Her faith was strong. It was not just something that she believed. She lived it, day in and day out.
In Philippians 1:20-22 we read these words from the Apostle Paul,
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.
Paul was in prison and he knew he could die. At any moment he could have heard the studded sandals of the soldiers walking down the stone hallway with an order to cut off his head. Paul wrestled with the reality that he might live or die. His conclusion is terrific: “If I live I am going to live for Christ. If I die, then I will go home to be with my Savior”. We call this a “Win/Win”.
Paul eventually was released from this imprisonment and he did keep serving the Lord. And he was imprisoned again. This time he knew he was going to die and he wrote these words,
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
I share these texts because I see a strong parallel with Maxine Clover. She knew she was in poor health. She knew there was nothing that could be done to “fix” her. Maxine did not have any trouble understanding what was going on. She could have sat in her chair and tried to prolong her life by exerting very little energy. But that was not her choice. If she was going to live on then she wanted to LIVE. She would go to her meetings, cook, do laundry, even drive to Ft. Madison, and have fun. And when it was time to go and be with the Lord she would be ready! Win/Win.
One of the times she was in the hospital a Nurse came up to her and asked her how she was doing. She said she would be doing a lot better if they would get her out of the bed! If she was going to live . . . she wanted to live . . . not wait to die!
The day before she had her stroke she thoroughly enjoyed a Disco Embroidery Club meeting. Maxine was living and enjoying life until her body gave out. What a great legacy: she lived until she died and when she died she lived anew. Too many people die before their dead.
Life was not always easy for Maxine but that didn’t matter. She would tell you that life isn’t easy for anyone. That’s the nature of living. You can whine about what you wish life could be or you can LIVE LIFE! That’s what this “Tough Grandma did”.
She didn’t talk about the past unless you asked her about it. She wasn’t always talking about the good old days. It seems to me that Maxine lived in the now. If she spent time reminiscing or longing for the past or even dreaming about the future, she would miss NOW. She would miss living her life in the moment. It is a wonderful attitude.
Maxine had a strong faith in Christ. She not only worshiped Him on Sunday, she served Him and tried to follow Him in her daily living. She knew where she was going (Heaven) and she knew that she was not going there because she was good. She was going to Heaven because the Lord was gracious and merciful in sending Christ to die for us and rise from the grave. She understood that apart from the work of Jesus, she was lost and heading for Hell. She was saved by grace and she lived by grace. One of Maxine’s favorite Bible passages is Romans 8:35-39
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
When you know that nothing can separate the true believer from the love of Christ you can live life with abandon and you can die without fear. That is the way Maxine lived, and that is the way she died.
One of the things that should happen at every funeral is that we should take stock of our own lives. Solomon tells us that it is better to go to a funeral than go to a party because funerals force us to ask ultimate questions that we too often avoid:
- Is this all there is?
- What is the purpose of life?
- What really matters?
- If there is life beyond the grave, how do I find it?
It is at a funeral that we confront the reality that life will one day end. And because the funeral we are attending is for someone we love, it now matters greatly what happens after we die. And hopefully thinking about such things will impact the way we live.
The Bible tells us that this is not all there is. The evidence for this is the Resurrection of Jesus. Because He rose from the dead His promise of life beyond the grave takes on a powerful credibility.
What is the purpose of life? It is to walk with the Lord. He created us to know Him and to walk with Him. This life is meant to be a preparation for the life that is yet to come. God is not trying to restrict our lives with His commands and instructions. He wants to show us where real freedom and joy is found. What really matters is whether or not you are prepared for eternity.
I know there are lots of people who don’t care. They say they are fine the way they are. To them, I guess, life really is meaningless. You live, you die. That’s it (they hope!). I hope that you learn from Maxine Clover that there is a better way. I hope you take this opportunity to take stock of your life. The arms of Jesus are open to you, just as they were to Maxine.
When someone gets to be 99 years old their death is a little less surprising. However, the loss is not insignificant. The undisputed leader of the family is gone. Family dinners will not be the same. The wisdom that Maxine possessed can no longer be gained from a phone call or a quick visit. You will feel this loss because of the impact of her life.
So we surrender Maxine to the Lord and as we do so we try to learn the lessons of her life,
- Your words should matter. If you say you will be there for lunch at noon you should be there for lunch at noon . . . not 12:05.
- The world would probably be a much better place if we would all take time to recognize when we have “nothing new to add” to a conversation.
- Living in the past or dreaming about the future takes away the privilege of living this moment in time.
- Life is for living. Choose to live and live well until you die.
- The people around you are those who bring the color to life. Notice people. Care about them. Learn from them.
- Hard times come to everyone. Grumbling about those times don’t make them any better. It is better to pick up your broom and get to work.
- If you live your life for Christ. Then you will have absolutely no need to fear in death.
May her memory warm your hearts, inspire your living, and lead you to a new or renewed faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, Wow! Thank you for the life of Maxine Clover. That for her spirit, her energy, and her spunk. Thank you for the faith you showed us through her life. We would love for you to give us a strong dose of her spirit.
Lord I ask that you help us in this time of loss. Draw this family together. Help them to appreciate, cherish, and build on the wonderful legacy they have been given. Fill their hearts with great memories that refuse to dim over the years. Help us all to reflect deeply on the lessons of her life.
And we ask that You welcome Maxine to the place that you have prepared for her. We commit her confidently to your life-giving care. And we do all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.