A week ago today, on September 11, 2012, one of the greatest women I've ever known passed into eternal life. Had she survived until tomorrow, September 19, 2012—her 100th birthday—she might well have appeared on national television, on the Today show. As it is, the death of Mary Elizabeth Richert—the woman I had the privilege of calling Grandma—was noted in the Grand Haven Tribune and a few places online, which, in the end, was all she would have wanted.
For Grandma had a humility that was supernatural, and I'm not speaking here in hyperbole, but in the spiritual reality of grace. Of all the people I have known in my life, I can think of very few for whom the Christian Faith was so much a part of their very being. If Grandma ever struggled with her faith, she never showed it. A Missouri Synod Lutheran, she simply believed, with every breath and every beat of her heart—and, it seems, she always had.
A faith that deep and abiding and essential did not need to be expressed in words, and Grandma was not one to preach. It was expressed in the family she raised and the house she kept and the food she made in the kitchen of that house for generation upon generation of that family—six generations, in fact, as of August, a milestone few families ever reach. A good wife, a good mother, a good grandmother, a good neighbor, a good friend—all were the fruit of her life in Christ, with Whom she had died at her baptism and in Whom she will rise again at the Resurrection of the Dead.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27). In her final days, her strength sapped by a stroke that had taken her from the home she and my grandpa had built, she used all her strength to speak to the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who gathered at her bedside—a few words here and there, that comforted those to whom they were directed. Yet three or four days after her stroke, when her pastor came to visit and to lead us all in the Lord's Prayer, every word rose from the depths of her breast, clear and strong and filled with faith and love.
She was ready, as she always had been, to embrace the Lamb of God, Who had taken away her sins and granted her life eternal. May we all be blessed with a faith so great, so powerful, that it becomes such a part of our lives that others cannot imagine or remember us without that faith.
"And he said to her: Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole" (Mark 5:34). May Christ someday be able to say that of each one of us. It's what Grandma would have wanted.
Eternal memory. Eternal memory. May God grant Mary Elizabeth Richert blessed repose and eternal memory.
(Mary Elizabeth Richert. Photo © Scott P. Richert)