Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Mother, The Gardener

When I was 13 or 14 years old, I got a summer job working at Heather Oak Rhododendrons. A big part of working at that nursery was to pot Rhododendron starts by the hundreds - they would be sold off in the following years.

One day, I came across a small plant that was nothing more than a 3 inch stick with two tiny roots on one end, and a single leaf on the other. Mike, the owner of the nursery, told me to toss that one aside, that it wasn't worth anything, and would probably just die anyway.

I asked him if I could have it.

When I got home that evening, I showed my mother this sad, one-leaf stick, and asked her if she could help it. She took it, put it in some potting soil, made sure to water it, and nurtured it along until it was strong enough to sustain itself. Then, she planted it in our yard, where it continued to grow, and flourish.

That was some 23 years ago, and that Rhododendron is now a great-big beautiful plant that my mother spoke of fondly.

When she got married a few years ago, she decided to dig it up and replant it at her new home. Some people questioned her for the efforts she was putting forth for a single plant, and suggested it would be so much easier just to get a new one to plant. She explained that this particular Rhododendron wasn't just a Rhododendron, that it was "a little boy's faith in his mother to make it better".

And she did make it better. She always knew how to make things better. She knew the right words to say to comfort us in troubled times. She knew what to do in the challenges we faced. And she knew how to be a good role-model for us, and great follower of Christ.

While she saw that Rhododendron as "a little boy's faith in his mother", for my part, I see it as a symbol for how she lived her life, and how she related to other people.

She had deep compassion for the people who she met who were sick in health, or sick in spirit. Once she befriended you, you were hers. She would do whatever it took to help those that she loved. Sometimes, it was a simple phone call. Sometimes, it was a weekend trip to the coast. Sometimes, it was lying next to the person to offer comfort and care in their final hours before passing from this Earth. Always with a smile, encouraging words, and a tender heart.

She wasn't perfect, and there were times when she had fall-outs with some of her friends, but she never tossed a friendship aside because it was no longer worth anything, and would probably die anyway. Even at times when people said or did something to her that was mean, or bitter, she was generous with her forgiveness. She often told us that we don't know what else is going on in that other person's life - that they may be going through something very difficult, and they don't really mean that thing that they said or did. Some of you in this room know first-hand of her tenacity to pursue and mend a relationship. Aren't we glad that she did?

Linda's greatest joy and concern was always for us - her family and friends. She cared for us, encouraged us, repaired us, uplifted us, listed to us, loved us.

Linda loved spending time in her flower gardens. She delighted in the time and effort spent pruning her rose bushes, though sometimes she got pricked, planting bulbs, pulling weeds, watering, nourishing and tending each plant with great love and care. Her family and friends are a living testament to the wonderful gardener she was.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obituary of Linda Lorraine Brock

Linda Lorraine Brock passed away Monday, March 29th of Pancreatic Cancer. She was 54. We are comforted in the knowledge that a Loving God has received her.

Linda was born in Superior, Wisconsin on June 2nd 1955.

She moved to Oregon with her family as a young teenager and has lived in Eugene, Albany and Brownsville, Oregon.

Her husband of 20 years and father of her children, James Harrison Brock, died in 1997.

She is survived by her Mother and Stepfather, Dolores and Nick Fliter of Piedmont, Missouri, four children, nine grandchildren, and seven siblings:

Brian Brock and wife Hannah of Muscatine, Iowa - Linda greatly looked forward to the arrival of her newest granddaughter, Kaylin Ann who is expected in July;

Eric Brock and wife Alexandra and grandsons Conner and Austin of Lebanon, Oregon;

Sarah Vogel and husband Steve, with granddaughters Ashleah and Taytum and grandson Jarison of Brownsville, Oregon;

Grace McGowan and husband Joey and grandsons Jack and Adam and granddaughter Emma of Junction City, Oregon.

Linda is one of nine children. Her brother Joseph preceded her in death.

She has five sisters and two brothers: Mary Maugh and her husband Gene; Elizabeth “Betsy” Williams and husband Micky; Jeanie Chambers; Toni Price and husband Earl; Scharlotte Minhas; Richard Andrew Murray; and Charles Murray.

In addition, she has nine nieces, three nephews, and numerous great nieces and nephews that she loved and cared for deeply.

Her canine companion, Grant, awaits her arrival in Heaven.

Linda was a dynamic and amazing woman. She was a nurturer, providing care to many people from newborns and children, to the elderly as they passed into eternity. She acted as a surrogate mother to many beyond her own children, humbly affecting lives in positive and profound ways that she didn’t fully recognize.

Linda poured herself out to help others, and more importantly, taught her children and those around her to do the same. She often expressed her respect and pride for those qualities that she nurtured and continues to grow in her children. She left an indelible impression on everyone that has ever known her to strive towards his or her best.

For many people she was the one positive constant, the person who was there for them in their times of trial and need. She mentored with compassion, the wisdom of her faith and a voice of experience. Her encouraging words "this too shall pass" brought hope and the confidence of better days ahead to many seemingly dismal situations.

Linda also had a great sense of the joy in life. Whether it was watching children play, Geo-Caching with her sisters, tending her flower gardens, or accompanying her friend and companion Grant on adventures, she enjoyed life to it’s fullest. She found delight in nature, in the silly things people do, or by acting silly herself! From cake food fights at Chinese restaurants to singing for the children on stage at the mall, she was ready to step out and make people laugh; even in if it meant her own embarrassment!

Linda’s family and friends will always be a reflection of her compassion, courage, humor and joy. She loved unconditionally and exemplified what it meant to be a great mother, wife and friend. She taught not to fear life and the challenges and losses that occur. Linda was bold in speaking the truth; but did so only in encouragement and praise. She served as an example of how God can help people become truly amazing even in difficult times.

The world is indeed left a better place thanks to Linda Brock.