Hello there, friends! Hope the summer treated you well and that the cool days of fall will soon be upon us. It’s stinkin’ HOT in Valencia the past couple weeks– the thermometer’s hovering around 100 degrees, so we’ve been taking refuge in any place that has air conditioning!
The summer’s been pretty good, but something sad did happen. Last month my Grandma Marie passed away.
She was a vibrant, beautiful, and deeply spiritual woman, and I was honored to give a eulogy at her memorial service. Here’s what I shared:
Marie Wentz Hane Mayes was born on February 26, 1922 in Fort Bend County, Texas. She grew up in the small town of Rosenburg, Texas, but spent most of her adult years in San Diego, CA. She was an active volunteer for Survivors of Suicide Loss, College Avenue Baptist Church, and the Forrest Home Auxiliary. And to top it off, she worked for the FBI for 17 years!
Grandma Marie had her share of heartache and tragedy in her life. She lost two children, Donna and Steven, and a grandchild, Matthew, to suicide, but her faith never wavered. And God blessed her too. She was married fifty happy years to Grandpa Dick. She was then blessed with her second marriage to Larry Hane, and after Larry died she married Bill Mayes, her third happy marriage. It was wonderful to see her so happy in her later years, in the company of her husbands. Marie is survived by three daughters, Susan Claire, Sharon Dickerson, and Mary Horton, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Marie may have experienced tragedy; but she handled life’s challenges with grace and character, a great example to friends and family. When I asked my siblings if they had any memories they wanted me to share today, my brother Christian, a musician, said that Grandma and Bill Mayes impressed him by flying all the way to NYC for the opening night of the Broadway show Passing Strange that Christian was a part of. Grandma Marie and Bill were Christian’s guests at the after party . It was a red carpet affair. But Marie and Bill seemed unimpressed with the bigwigs that were there, like the NY Times and Diana Ross . . . until they found out that dinner was a three course “free ” Buffett; at which they seemed, all of a sudden, very excited to be there. Christian also remembers a saying Grandma had that meant a lot to him: it was “Turn a scar into a star.” Christian is sorry he couldn’t be here today; he loved Grandma Marie a lot and flew in from Brooklyn, New York to be by her bedside during her last days when she was in hospice. He was holding her hand at 11:30 pm when she passed away.
My sister Laurie said that Grandma Marie was the kind of person whose candy jar was always full for us. Laurie and I copied that in our own homes; Like Laurie said, if the candy bowl is full, then somehow life is good.
One thing my brother Kenny pointed out was that Grandma would always send us birthday cards with a bible verse on it, and a check for $5 which she said was for ice cream. Grandma who always had a clear mind, was in step with inflation—when the cost of ice cream cones crept up, the five dollars turned into a ten. My siblings and I are in our 40s and 50s now, but Grandma never missed a birthday. She took those birthday checks seriously too. Christian said that when Grandma visited him in New York she dragged him to the bank, where she wrote a check for 3 years worth of birthday and Christmas checks that he had never cashed.
Anyone who knew Marie knew she was a spiritual person. My brother Trey remembers Grandma telling him “Our body is not our own because Jesus dwells within us.” She also gave good advice. One time Trey was upset because he had to chop off the head of a chicken. Don’t ask me why he had to do that, you don’t want to know. But he called Grandma Marie afterwards and told her how bad he was feeling. She just said, “Don’t worry about it too much, Trey. Just keep your head on your shoulders.
Marie had a good sense of humor and she was cool too. Not only did she have a top secret job at the FBI, she drove a Firebird and made a point of visiting us; first with Grandpa Dick, the with Larry Hane, then with Bill Mayes. I remember one time I gave her a tour of my house. I was all proud of my decorating skills and wanted to impress her. But the one thing I recall her saying was “Cheri, I’m glad to see that.” She was pointing to a certain book in my bookcase: The Bible.
Grandma Marie’s example helped me in my spiritual journey. One of my earliest memories was when I was five or six and she was in charge of Sunday School. I received a pamphlet that folded open like an accordion and when unfolded was nearly as long as my six year old self. It came with color illustrations of Jesus and children and bread. I wish I still had that pamphlet because it was all about my favorite prayer. My husband Ron and I had it sung at our wedding. I’m not alone in this particular prayer being a favorite. I’m sure you know it too: The Lord’s Prayer.
I’ve learned that the Lord’s Prayer asks God three key requests: to give, to forgive, and to deliver. And in these three requests are the building blocks for any prayers we create ourselves. I memorized that prayer, and I bet you all have it memorized too. Will you do me the honor of thinking of Marie Wentz Hanes Mayes and blessing her in Heaven as we say this prayer together?
“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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. Amen.”
May God bless you, Grandma Marie, we are forever grateful for all you have done to enrich our lives. You were loved by many and you are missed. But someday, we will see you again, when we are reunited, in Heaven.