This morning my mother went to be with her Lord and Savior after many extraordinarily fruitful years of serving Him. She was 91, and had been a follower of Christ for 75 of those years. All three of her sons live here in Moscow, and my sister Heather, who lives in California, arrived last night in time to say farewell, for which we are very grateful.
Mom was profoundly Canadian, a native of Alberta, and after finishing her work at Prairie Bible Institute, she served as a missionary in post-war Japan. When the Korean War broke out, my father who had graduated from the Naval Academy just in time for the war, was assigned to a destroyer serving out of Japan. They met there, and after a courtship which began with disparate levels of interest, they were married in 1952. When they first met, my father, who is eight years younger, asked her why she hadn’t waited for him. She replied that she didn’t know he was coming. She was kidding, but he wasn’t.
After they were engaged to be married, my father spent many months of their engagement at sea. Mom had to plan the wedding and needed to get a date scheduled for it, but dad couldn’t tell her when the ship was coming into port because that was classified. So she just picked a date, which was a Monday, and the groom arrived in port the Friday before. But because so many American servicemen had taken to marrying Japanese, a regulation had been handed down that required them to get permission from the admiral before marrying a foreign national, which is apparently what a Canadian is. So on morning of the wedding day, dad was on the destroyer taking an exam which the Navy required, and mother was routing the letter to the admiral. They met at noon and went to the consulate to have a civil ceremony done before the church ceremony later in the afternoon. The poor consulate official was flummoxed, not knowing what to do, and so he hauled out a Bible, had them place their left hands on it, raise their right hand, and solemnly swear. My father had convictions against taking oaths, but thought that would be a poor time to raise any scruples about it.
As a result of all that working out, I was born in 1953, and from that time to this, I have been consistently grateful God for such an extraordinary mother. The Bible says to honor your mother, which I am eager to do, but the catch is that I also am eager to honor her adequately, which is impossible. Some years ago, for her 70th birthday, I wrote a poem for her which you can read here.
My book Mother Kirk was dedicated to her.
For my mother, Elizabeth Catherine Dodds Wilson, who prayed with me when I first called on the Lord, and who throughout my life has faithfully modeled for me what it means to be the Church.
I cannot say anything more than that.
Please pray for us as we seek to remember her life as we ought. As we were talking about what we were going to do earlier today, my father said in effect that we wanted a memorial that was Bessie-honoring, and Christ-centered. And that, Lord willing, is what we will do. We will have a family-only graveside service next week, and in a few weeks, time and place to be announced, we will have a memorial service for all the saints to rejoice together with us in my mother’s homecoming.