We gather this morning to remember the life and mourn the loss of Genevieve E. Colvin. At this time of loss we look for something to hold on to. We want more than the warm memories of the past, we long to find something that will assure us that life is more than living and then dying.
For that hope, that substance, we turn to the Word of God. The Apostle Paul said,
I declare to you brothers that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery” we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15)
Our Lord Jesus said,
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
And He also said,
“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.
With this hope in our heart, will you turn with me to God in prayer,
Gracious Father, you hold our lives in your hands. You give us life and you set the time for that life to return to you.
Today we celebrate the life of Genevieve Colvin. You have enriched our lives through her and we give you thanks. Help us to celebrate her life. Help us as we search for strength and hope in You. Help us to see beyond what is temporal and to hold fast to what is eternal. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Genevieve Evelyn Colvin would have celebrated her 93rd birthday today. She was born March 11, 1913 near Waverly Illinois, the daughter of Robert Roy and Mae E. [Delong] Crum.
Genevieve grew up on the family farm and graduated from Waverly High School. It wasn’t always easy. After graduation she was employed at the former Jacksonville State Hospital as a ward attendant. It was during this time that she met Kenneth Colvin. They were married on September 2nd 1934. They lived in several different locations and settled in LaHarpe in 1953. He died in 1993. She worked at the Lomax Tomato Canning Company for many years and also worked as an aide at the La Harpe Hospital.
Genevieve was widely known and recognized for her beautiful quilts and she won and award for her “Bridal Wreath” quilt with red hearts and green leaves in the background at the 14th District Annual Meeting in Milan in 1984. Her other hobbies included playing organ, working crossword puzzles and watching TV game shows (especially Jeopardy…which she often watched twice so she could get more answers right the second time!). She was active in the LaHarpe Senior Citizens, was involved in the Hancock County RSVP, was in the Happy Helpers Club, and several other organizations. She was active in the Union Church and a regular part of the Sunday Lunch bunch that traveled to different restaurants after worship.
Three brothers preceded Genevieve in death: Raymond, Kenneth and Aubrey Crum. She is survived by her brother, Norman, of Camarillo, California, Several cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, including Russell Crum, Robert Crum, Judy Ross, Mary Kane, Kevin Crum and Brenda Curts. She is also survived by her dear friends, neighbors and in her heart her LaHarpe family, Tom and Dawn, Tyler, Nathan and Samuel Todd.
I am pleased to be able to share with you the reflections of Genevieve’s brother, Norman.
By Her Brother, Norman Crum March 11, 2006
On this day as we gather to celebrate the earthly life of my beloved sister, Genevieve, I would like to share some thoughts with you regarding her life from a brother’s perspective.
Genevieve, if she had lived two more days, would be 93 today. Her life was based on honesty, hard work, strong endurance and other often forgotten old-time virtues. She made beautiful quilts, regularly worked crossword puzzles and cooked to perfection. However, a major theme runs through her life – the role of a caregiver.
She began early – even at 13 she realized my mother was overworked and that I as a baby needed diapers changed. After all, mother always raised a lot of chickens and turkeys – and that meant household chores often went unattended. Genevieve came to the rescue!
When my Grandma DeLong fell ill, Genevieve dropped out of grade school to live with her and help nurse her back to health. I believe that she lost 2 grade levels as a result.
When Kenneth, her husband, nearly died from stomach ulcers and required drastic surgery, Genevieve was there for him too. And when my mother needed close attention during the late 50’s, she was there for her. Some of her deeds that she felt “called” to do even resulted in marital stress.
Genevieve was even a caregiver of sorts for her brother Raymond and me when we struggled to pull together and publish the DeLong family history books in the early 90’s. She felt that she should be making a more direct contribution. However, as a proofreader, she often was the first person to detect a mistaken date or incorrect identification of an old photo. She was always a close observer with a remarkable memory. She also was generous with funding for this project.
I must not omit my observation of her love for children – she loved to feed our children when they were babies during her several visits to our home in California in the 1960’s. In her telephone calls, she was always ready to share her latest experiences with Sam, Tom and Dawn’s youngest son. What a blessing he was – he added much joy to her life.
A few years ago I called my sister and during a good conversation, I told her that I often worried about her and the status of her health. With her usual brevity and self-denial she replied, “Norman, don’t worry about me, I’ve had a good life”.
So today on March 11, what would have been your 93rd birthday – yes Genevieve, we all agree that you have had a good life and you deserve a special place in heaven for being a Godly woman that performed many acts of care-giving in your earthly life. You will be missed.
I loved Genevieve’s spirit and her wonderful sense of humor. She gave me a hard time several times when I would misspell her name. She said, “It’s not that hard…Gen-Ev-Ieve.” She didn’t seem to understand that I knew how to say her name, it was spelling it that gave me trouble! Genevieve didn’t mind people giving her a hard time. She not only could take it, she seemed to relish it. She was a person who was always quick to get a joke. When others would sit in this sanctuary and simply stare at me after what I thought was a humorous comment. . . Genevieve would be smiling and laughing. She “got it”.
Tom tells the great story about the time Genevieve went shopping for a stackable washer and dryer a few years ago. The saleswoman pointed out to Genevieve that the motor had a 25 year warranty. Genevieve looked at her and said, “With a face like this, do you think I care about a 25 year warranty?”
Genevieve was eager to learn. She was surely the most “with it” 90 year old around. When she heard everyone talking about the Harry Potter books she decided that she should read them herself. And that’s what she did.
When she would be flipping channels (she loved her remote control) she would sometimes stop on a show like Jerry Springer. She was fascinated with the kinds of things (even perversions) that were going on in the world.
Mary’s kids teased her one day by putting on a rather ripe Santa Clause movie. Instead of being offended or embarrassed, Genevieve said she wanted to see how the story ended. She said, she had heard all those bad words before, just not all at once!
Genevieve maintained an active mind. She loved to play cards and most any other game. She was competitive however. She was frustrated at the Nursing Home because the people who played cards weren’t very good.
She was a good cook. She believed a good pie was one that was made from scratch. One of her few complaints at the Nursing home was that the food wasn’t very good. Of course, Genevieve was not much of an eater and when she ate, she ate very slowly. One of her legendary comments when asked if she was hungry was, “No, I just ate yesterday.”
Thought she didn’t eat quickly she enjoyed eating out. Most of the time she ate at whatever place for which she had a coupon. She loved eating at Hotel Nauvoo (where she always tried to sneak out her leftovers), enjoyed catfish, and loved her Super Six pizza from Aurelio’s Pizza, and she enjoyed her Sunday lunches at various restaurants in the area.
I’m told that Genevieve liked to get up early and be on the go whenever possible. She loved to go shopping. She didn’t buy a great deal, but she enjoyed looking around. She was careful with her money.
Genevieve was slight of stature but she was a tough lady. She had several falls resulting in serious breaks but refused to go to the hospital in the ambulance. When she broke her hip by the back steps, she dragged herself back into the house, sat in her chair and waited for Tom to come home. She insisted they go to the hospital in the car. She apparently had a high tolerance for pain.
She was a woman who cherished the people around her. She loved her brothers. She loved their families. She loved Tom and Dawn and the boys. Samuel gave her a chance to feel like she had a Great-Grandchild. She made sure she always had candy ready for Sam.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about her is that she had a very realistic view on life. She knew she wasn’t going to live forever but she was determined to live until she died. She didn’t want to bother people. Rather than grumble about going to a Nursing Home, she took it in stride. A great testament to her attitude was the way all the Nursing Staff had to come in and tell her goodbye as she was dying.
Genevieve taught us many things by her life,
- Life is more enjoyable if you “go with it” rather than fight it
- You are never too old to learn something new
- A remote control is one of life’s great blessings
- Life is more enjoyable if you don’t take yourself too seriously
- If you are going to play . . . play to win
- If you are going to eat, there is no sense paying more than you need to pay
- It’s always good to have some candy on hand
- And she taught us that the greatest gift we can give to one another is to give of ourselves.
Norman was right . . . Genevieve will be missed.
Genevieve had a good long life. She did indeed live until she died. But as we stand at this place today there is a haunting question, isn’t there? It’s the question, “Is this all there is?” Is life really just a matter of living, decaying, and then dying? If that is the case we can’t help but wonder, “What’s the point?”
Genevieve sat in this sanctuary for many years. I know she heard it proclaimed that there is life beyond the grave for anyone who puts his/her trust and confidence in Jesus Christ.
The Christian proclamation isn’t hard to understand. The Bible tells us that even the best of us falls short of God’s perfect standard. There is a rebellious streak in every human being that pits us against God. God’s standard is perfection. None of us reaches that standard. In other words, no one can get to Heaven by being a good person because no one is “good” in the way God defines “good”. If we had the time we could go through each of the 10 commandments and find that we have broken them all many times over.
So we need help. We need someone to pay the debt our rebellion has accrued. That is why Jesus came into the world. He came as God in human form as evidenced by His authority, His power, and His perfect life. He came to give His life in exchange for our sin. Because of the value of His life (as the Son of God) He was able to trade it for the lives of all who will trust Him.
Jesus literally and physically rose from the dead to prove that His payment was sufficient. It is through Christ that we can find life beyond the grave. He proves that this is NOT all there is.
This isn’t something that is forced upon us, however. We are all given a choice. We can gratefully receive God’s offer of forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ, or we can choose to reject it. What is required is a willingness to admit our sin and our rebellion, to repent of that sin, and put our confidence in the work and leadership of Christ. We need to be willing to “bet it all” on Jesus.
I know Genevieve knew all of this. She heard it many times. I can’t be sure whether she embraced Christ as her Savior or not. Only God knows for sure. It’s my hope and my prayer that because of her trust in our loving Savior, she is now enjoying His presence. She had many prayers for her and with her over these last months. I’d like to think that her calm approach to the trials of life came from a faith that was sure and deep.
However, the real issue today is this: Do YOU believe the message? Have you put your confidence in the Son of God who gave His life for you? It is the key question because it will determine how you respond to this day. If you have not put your trust in Jesus Christ and his work on your behalf, then this day is grim and hopeless. It is simply a reminder of the meaninglessness of life.
However, if you do place your confidence, hope and trust in Jesus Christ, then this day has an entirely different look to it. We can say with the Apostle Paul, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is GAIN.” We entrust ourselves to God the Righteous Judge and we realize that death is not the end, it is simply a time of transition. To us this is not the end of Genevieve’s life, this is Genevieve’s graduation day.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live even though He dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then Jesus asks the key question: “Do you believe this?” That’s the question I urge you to answer today. Put your hope in Christ. Put your confidence in His promise, His resurrection, and His transforming love. He will give us the strength that we need to let go of Genevieve Colvin in this life and to look with anticipation to seeing her in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, we thank you for the life of Genevieve Colvin. She was a quiet treasure that enriched our lives. We pray that you receive her by your grace into your glorious Kingdom.
Help us as we grieve. Though we are grateful that her struggle did not endure, we find that there is an empty spot within us. Help us to see beyond the grave to the life that is to come. Help us not only to catch a glimpse of that life, but to also prepare for that life. Turn our hearts toward you. Grant us that comfort that comes from faith in Christ. Help us to hold fast to the truth.
Father, help us to learn the lessons of Genevieve’s life. Help us to carry on in her spirit and to your glory. Amen.