Reflections on the passing of my mother, the last of the “Great Generation” in our family.
My mother, Janice Green, passed away at about 7 p.m. on October 30th, 2020. She was 94. The “cause of death” will be recorded as Alzheimer’s, with Covid as a contributing factor, but the real cause is that she felt free to go.
A few weeks ago Marti and I began to feel that we should plan a trip back to Colorado, even though it was not clear if freedom to travel for “non-essential” purposes would continue. We booked the flights and just before we left home, we learned that Mom had tested positive for Covid. Although our family home in Mesa County Colorado has been almost Covid free, somehow the virus got into the very careful and caring nursing home where she and Dad have lived for a few years. Dad passed away about 13 months before Mom.
I have a younger sister and younger brother in Mesa County. My sister Charlotte has been visiting Mom daily, encouraging her, buying the things she needed (she regularly “needed” new clothes, even though she wasn’t able to go anywhere) and liaising with the nursing home.
The day after we arrived, my older sister, Deyon, arrived from Texas. Although we could not visit Mom because of Covid, Deyon did stop by the nursing home to look through the window, but Mom was not visible. She had been unresponsive for several days. Over the previous five or six years, dementia had taken her ability to communicate and finally her comprehension.
The next day we had a wonderful, warm time of fellowship with my brother, Greg and his wife, Debbie. As we were leaving, Debbie, who has some expertise in neural science, explained that often the ability to hear remains even after other abilities have gone. She suggested perhaps we should consider trying to communicate with her one more time to say what we thought was important.
Greg and Debbie had appointments that afternoon, but Deyon, Charlotte, Marti and I all felt that Debbie had shared an important insight, so we went back to the nursing home. This time, Mom was clearly visible from the window and one of the many excellent staff put a phone on speaker mode and held it close to Mom.
Each of us had a turn telling her that we loved her very much, were so grateful for such an exemplary mother, letting her know that we were in warm family unity and that she should feel free to go be with Dad and all her loved ones in the place Jesus has prepared for us. It was one of those moments when we all thought, “God is so IN this act!”
About three hours later we got the phone call saying she had taken her last breath at about 7 p.m. on the 30th of October.
This is the obituary we prepared for Janice Green.
Janice Green passed away October 30th in her 95th year, following her husband, Charlie, who died last year at the age of 96. They enjoyed a full and fruitful life together, having four children, 15 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and one great, great grandchild. She left a family deeply grateful for her legacy of love, integrity, hardworking faithfulness and creativity. For those familiar with the description, she was the incarnation of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Janice was born July 14, 1926 in Logan, New Mexico to Arbie and Tuck Meeks, the fifth of six children. Arbie had brought 2 children to the marriage and Tuck had brought four, so the total was twelve. Janice attended schools in New Mexico, obtained a ministerial license, travelled as an evangelist and went on to Southwestern Bible College in Waxahachie, Texas, graduating with honours in 1944.
She married Charles Green in June of 1944. Together they pastored in Texas, before moving to Colorado in 1946. Four children were born to Charlie and Janice in Grand Junction: Deyon Stephens (Don), Lynn Green (Martha), Charlotte Pollard (Ron), and Greg Green (Debbie).
Janice served as PTA president of Orchard Mesa Junior High; she taught Sunday School for many years; She was a talented musician in piano, organ, banjo, and guitar. She contributed to the family income and taught her children well through her efforts in many projects like baking, raising chickens, turkeys, milk cows and sheep, growing fruit and vegetables, and sewing.
Despite her initial fear of flying, she obtained her pilot’s license after her children were grown. She learned general administration and bookkeeping skills, making payroll for Valley Construction, one of the businesses she and her husband ran together. She occasionally flew supplies and payroll to outlying jobs in Farmington, New Mexico; Kemmerer, Wyoming and Cortez, Colorado.
In 1975 Charlie and Janice completed the entry level training for Youth With A Mission in Lausanne, Switzerland. They returned to close their business and pioneer a Youth With A Mission training center in the Big Cimarron Valley, training scores of young people in Christian faith and life skills. They directed that ministry for 20 years, and then purchased El Rancho Cimarron, a small family resort, which they operated for seven years.
In their late 70s, Charlie and Janice built a house on the Redlands of Grand Junction and returned to live there in 2003. In 2012 they moved to the Atrium (assisted living). As their health and strength declined they moved on to Larchwood Nursing Home, where they were well-cared for and loved by the excellent staff.