[The Old Rugged Cross]
Today we gather to mourn the loss and to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Nancy Lu Parrish. We come together seeking God’s strength, comfort, and perspective. To that end we turn to the Word of God.
One of Nancy’s favorite texts was Psalm 23 where we read,
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Another of those great texts is John 14 where it is Jesus who is talking and He reminds us of this great promise,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. [NLT]
It is with this perspective that we seek comfort in loss and it is with this hope that we remember. Please pray with me,
Our Father, we stand before you at the start of a New Year aching with the reality that this year will be lived without Nancy Lu Parrish at our side. Life changes so quickly, it seems. Less than a month ago Nancy was enjoying life and then everything changed. She seemed to be recovering and then it all changed. Father, hold us up when we are weary from the changes that come in life.
This morning we ask that you help us to remember accurately and affectionately. We also ask that you draw us close and whisper again your promises to us. Stir up in our hearts that hope that comes from you alone. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Nancy Lu Parrish, was born November 9, 1935 in LaHarpe, the daughter of George F. and Leah Jane Warner Painter. On June 27, 1953, she married Jack L. Parrish in Terre Haute, IL. He preceded her in death on March 9, 2009.
Nancy received a diploma in Medical Assisting and X-Ray Certification. She worked as a medical office assistant for Dr. Hafeez in LaHarpe and then for Dr. Bedi in Burlington, IA. When the children were small she was a school bus driver. In these last years she provided home companionship and care for several who needed a little extra help. She helped Mildred Blythe, Roberta Haines, Kathryn Link, Barbara Smyser, Clifford Rich, Hazel Mae Little, Jean Cratsenberg, and Zenith Thompson. Nancy not only gave the help these people needed, she became their friend.
Nancy was active. She was a member of the G.T. Club in Durham, IL, TOPS in Blandinsville, IL, the Kum-Join-Us Class at the Union Church and was very involved in her Church. Over the years she sang in the choir, served as a Sunday School Superintendent, was a Deaconess, and attended the Thursday morning Bible Study right up until the end of her life.
Nancy died Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 2:15 PM at the OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL.
She is survived by her special friend,
- James “Pooch” Rodeffer of Stronghurst, IL,
- 3 daughters, Lucretia McPeak and Betty Parrish, both of LaHarpe and Brenda (David) Murphy of Burlington,
- A daughter-in-law, Diane Parrish of LaHarpe,
- 2 grandchildren, Amanda (Lee) Woods and Christopher Braun,
- 1 step-granddaughter, Jamie Murphy,
- 1 great-grandson, Colton Woods,
- 2 step-great-granddaughters, Cody Woods and Olivia Murphy,
- 1 brother, David (Jean) Painter of Stronghurst,
- 1 sister, Margaret (Fred) Starr of Spring Bay, IL
- and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband Jack, 1 son, Jim Parrish, 1 granddaughter, Jacqueline Braun, 1 brother, Dale Painter and 1 sister, Leanne Sargeant.
I met Nancy Parrish my first Sunday in La Harpe. Over these 30 years we have laughed, cried, and grown together.
I’m told that Nancy had fun as part of her family. David and Leah Ann had already been in High School when Nancy became a freshman. David reported that up until that time whenever the folks would ask what happened at school he and Leah Ann always said, “Nothin”. He said when Nancy came to High School and the question was asked, “Then the Radio turned on!” and all secrets were exposed.
It sounds like it was an interesting family. In addition to David hanging Barbie dolls (he says they didn’t have TV so they needed to do something for entertainment!), I hear that when Nancy was around 17 she took time to play with 9 year old Margaret . . . until her parents would leave with Nancy in charge. As soon as her parents were gone Nancy looked at her sister and said, “Let the games begin”. It sounds like the older kids had a good time tormenting their younger siblings.
One of the first things I learned about Nancy was that she adored her husband Jack. The story is told that Jack took a liking to Nancy Lu Painter who went to school in Terre Haute. He was nervous about asking her out so he asked various friends to set them up. One day Jack was driving by and noticed Nancy on horseback with a spooked horse. He turned around to rescue her (by this time she already had things under control) and asked her out that night (his birthday, Nancy would find out later). She couldn’t go out that night but they made a date for the next Sunday night. Nancy was Not looking forward to the day but one date was all it took for Jack to win her heart. Nancy loved his dimples and the life that was in his eyes. She calls Jack her “Knight in shining armor” because he always seemed to know when she needed help. He never forgot an anniversary.
Jack and Nancy worked hard as they raised their family. They both had a great sense of humor and a strong faith. Jack worked a lot so it was up to Nancy to do most of the disciplining. According to Betty, Nancy was stern with the girls (not Jim!).
Nancy was a lot like her dad, George Painter. She was frugal and didn’t throw anything away. In hindsight, that frugality probably helped a great deal through the years.
Nancy loved her family. She worried about them when they went through times of crisis and she celebrated with them in the times of joy. After the kids left home she enjoyed her opportunities to spend time with them. She always went to Brenda for her hair and she looked forward to Sunday meals with the family.
In preparation for any family gathering and meal Nancy would make lists. She had a list for who was coming, who liked what food, what she needed to get from the store, and so on. Often she would make the same list twice because she would lose the list!
At the end of every Sunday meal Jack would always say, “Maybe we’ll have something better next time.”
Jack and Nancy always sat in the same seat in church. I’ll always remember that it didn’t matter what the temperature in the church, Nancy was always cold! Nancy usually attended our 8:00 a.m. service . . . unless the Bells were playing and then she came to 10:30 worship.
Every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas Nancy Ann and Jeff were invited over. After the meal Jeff would declare, “Let the Games Begin”. They would take out the game Aggravation and then later Bingo. The girls said they called this version of Aggravation “Geriatric Aggravation” because the two Nancy’s were forever forgetting or ignoring the rules. Following Aggravation they would play BINGO. Nancy Lu always called the numbers (because she had trouble playing the cards) and winners would be given goofy prizes that were gathered from around the house. It was a time of great laughter.
After Dale died Nancy, her siblings and Ernie and Pat Painter tried to get together for dinner once a month. They savored family and didn’t want to allow themselves to lose touch with each other. I know Nancy enjoyed these get-togethers greatly. They became a place of great support during hard times.
For a number of years Nancy, Brenda and Lucretia would go shopping on the day after Christmas. It was an all day outing with the girls and she loved it. One year Cynthia Sheffler joined the girls. It was a long day and Nancy was dragging (and maybe starting to complain a little). When they reached the checkout, the cashier asked, “Are you four sisters?” Nancy came to life. She stood up straighter and the aches and pains suddenly disappeared. Several times she asked the girls if they heard what the cashier had said. They assured her that they had. Cynthia would still greet her with the words, “Hi Sis!”
When her parents were sick Nancy was there to care for them. It was hard for her to lose her brother and her sister. When Jack became sick, Nancy was by his side through everything. She faithfully walked him to the door or Heaven and then entrusted him to the Lord. When Jackie died suddenly it was an especially hard blow. You aren’t supposed to bury your Grandkids. Nancy prayed for and was concerned for Jim for many years. When he died, the spark in her dimmed even more.
It was a wonderful thing when she started to visit with and then date “Pooch”. They had been friends for years and knew each other’s spouses. Pooch was attentive and made Nancy feel alive and cherished again. She smiled and laughed in a way she hadn’t for quite awhile. I’m told that for Sunday meals Nancy always leaned toward making whatever Christopher liked to eat. . . until Pooch came around.
We are all sorry that time didn’t last longer.
There were many things I appreciated about Nancy. She was wonderfully (sometimes painfully) honest. You didn’t have to ask her what she thought; she volunteered that information quite freely. But I always respected that honesty.
Nancy didn’t care much for pretense. She saw all people as equally valuable. Those who saw themselves as above others were of little use to her.
She had a great sense of humor. It is suggested that she had to develop a good sense of humor or not survive in her family. She enjoyed kidding and never had a problem making fun of herself. Family gatherings were always times of great laughter and evident joy.
Nancy was open to learn new things. She liked to play solitaire on the computer and was working to learn how to use e-mail. She was willing to adapt to changing times.
I liked the fact that she “Played the cards she was dealt”. She didn’t spend a lot of time complaining. She looked for ways to use her circumstances for good. She and Lucretia teamed up and invited some others over to the house to go through a video series on grief. Nancy benefitted from the lessons but I think she enjoyed even more the chance to share those lessons with others who were hurting.
Over the years I saw that Nancy had a strong faith. I enjoyed having her in Bible Study and the chance we would have to visit either before or after Bible study. I know Nancy was not afraid to die. She believed strongly in angels (she told how an angel helped her get out of the car after a rollover accident), she had a solid faith in Christ, she read her Bible regularly, and even in the sad times when it was hard to sit through the hymns or communion in worship, she continued to keep coming to church.
She was a godly woman.
The girls put together a poem that will tell you a great deal about Nancy through their eyes.
How do you let go of a Mother so dear,
You gave us life, and love, and held us so near.
You nurtured us all through life and through death,
It broke our hearts when you took your last breath.
As we watched you in that hospital bed,
Little did we know what lie ahead.
Comfort was all we wanted for you,
Watching you suffer, we just couldn’t do.
We three girls sat watching with tears in our eyes,
Contemplating how we’d say our goodbyes.
We reminisced of when we were young
Growing up in our family was loads of fun.
You taught us girls to cook, clean, and bake,
Oh, the Sunday dinners you would make.
For Dave, Brenda, Christopher too,
If a few more showed up, you always made do.
Family together was what you liked most,
When Holiday time came, you were eager to Host.
Dinner and games, Aggravation couldn’t wait.
And then we’d play Bingo until it got late.
The Geriatric version was always in style,
When Mom and Aunt Nancy moved backwards, it always got a smile.
No matter how often we told you how to play,
You just couldn’t remember, not even to this day!
You were blessed with your Grandchildren, and they were such a joy,
Then Amanda and Lee had their little boy!
Your Great-grandson Colton, was a delight from the start,
And your Daughter-in-law Diane was always in your heart.
You were a woman of character, integrity, and will,
Faith, love, and strength abided in you still.
It pained you so to let go of Dad,
Then when Jackie died, you were so sad.
You suffered in silence when Jim died too,
We wondered just how much more you could muster through.
You showed us girls a love only a mother could know,
And supported us all until time for you to go.
You went too quickly for us to comprehend,
But you were strong for us right up to the end.
We know in our hearts you’re in a better place,
And you’re with your loved ones again face to face.
Life will be different without you by our side,
No words of wisdom from you as our guide.
We have peace knowing you’re with our Lord,
Eternity forever is your reward.
We miss you, Dear Mother, and still wish you were here,
We’re grieving and sad, and still shed a tear.
We’ll take care of each other, and never lose sight,
Till we meet again in Heaven’s bright light.
Nancy’s Grandson Christopher adds these words
Grandma. A woman full of life and love. You taught me so much when we were together. You helped me learn how to drive – though you got all tense at the first sight of a car 4 miles away. You helped me learn some basic cooking skills – though you forgot mom in the process. You also helped me to love unconditionally. You showed our family a love that made us all feel like we were the favorite no matter what we did. As it turned out, we all knew I was really the favorite. You always welcomed us with open arms. We are sad to see you leave but happy you are reunited with Grandpa. You will always be remembered.
One of Nancy’s friends expresses their memories this way,
Our God reached down
And took Nancy’s hand
So glad to welcome her
Into His great land.
A wife and a mother
And a friend like no other.
Nancy and Jack raised a family of four
Also a garden that contained food galore
Which they always would share
Knowing there was plenty to spare.
From the farm they moved to town
With a friendship that never let us down
She leaves us without a fear
Going to a home that’s so dear
This afternoon our loss is tempered by hope. In the Thursday morning Bible Study Nancy was attending, we have been working our way through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
In 2 Corinthians 4 we read,
16 …We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
These words could describe Nancy’s spirit. She faced heartache and was having various tests the last several months for physical issues. In all of this her attitude was simple: I’ll face whatever comes. Nancy was not discouraged by life . . .she kept going.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes
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 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. [NLT]
This is our hope today: this life is not all there is. As we age we begin to learn what Paul means when he says we “grow weary in our present bodies.” We begin to quite literally groan and sigh from aches and pains. But there is also another kind of groaning. As you start to lose people whom you love, you also groan. The magnet pulling you toward Heaven gets stronger and stronger.
This was the case with Nancy. She had witnessed this many times in the people she cared for. Nancy enjoyed life, but she was also ready for death. She understood that even the best of us are not good enough to earn Heaven. She recognized that eternal life is something that is offered to us through the work of Christ on our behalf. Because Jesus died for us, we can, through trusting Him, find forgiveness, new life, and eternal life.
Nancy not only understood these things, she also believed them and anchored her life to them. In a very real sense she spent her life looking forward to eternity. Her personal encounter with an angel strengthened that belief immeasurably. It was this hope that sustained her in difficult times and it is the same hope that now must sustain us.
The best thing we can do today is to learn from Nancy’s life and follow her example. We are reminded today that this life is temporary. To live only for the moment is disastrous. I believe, as did Nancy, that this life is a prelude to something so much better that our minds cannot begin to comprehend it. However, the future is only better for those who embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. We should enjoy the journey (as Nancy did) but we must do so with the knowledge that: who we trust and follow in this life, will determine the nature of our eternity.
I am going to miss Nancy. I will miss her smile, her laugh, and her faithfulness. I will miss the life that was always in her eyes. I will miss our conversations. My comfort, and I hope your comfort, comes from the realization that we are going to see her, and all those who have put their trust in Christ, again.
Prayer: Our Father, thank you for Nancy Lu Parrish. Thank you for her spirit, her heart, and her faith. She enriched us in ways we frankly never fully appreciated. Thank you.
Now, O Lord, we ask that you welcome Nancy into the place that you have prepared for her, and all who put their trust in you. Our hearts are filled with joy even in our grief because we think of her reunion with all those she cherished who have gone on before her. This bad day for us has been a very good day for her. Love her as only you can do, our Savior.
Father, comfort us in our time of loss. Motivate us by the memory of Nancy’s faithfulness. Activate our faith that we too might follow you fully. Help this family as they grieve. Grant them your comfort and strength. Sustain them with great memories and a fervent and true hope. Lead us by your grace we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen