Sunday, April 19, 2015


This Saturday we were part of a funeral for Teresa's mother. It was a very pleasant experience for all who attended because the people there were wonderful and the remembrances were sweet.  

I was invited to speak for a few minutes and so I thought it would be nice to again honor her memory with the words I spoke in the service.

(Actually, this is what I had written but the things I said were slightly -- well maybe a little more than that -- different from the text.  Seems like that happens whenever I am at the pulpit.)

But, anyways, this is a semblance of the tribute I shared with the family and friends.

Funeral Text for Phyllis Rae Grange -- 

Phyllis on the left -- Teen years
My first memory of Phyllis Grange involves her looking through the kitchen window of her home, along with the rest of the family, as Teresa and I got out of the car in their driveway.  To say I was intimidated would be an understatement.  I was young, brash, and very full of myself but seeing all those eyes focused on me was very disconcerting.  Just a few days before I had called to inform the family that I desired to marry their eldest daughter/sister and had not found a very positive reception (maybe because they had no idea who I was).  To no one’s surprise but mine, there was some reticence in the proposition.  It seemed to me that none of the family spoke to me the whole weekend – except little Cory and Nate who were too young to know what was happening.

These intimidating souls aren't so much!
Nearly forty years have passed since that little introduction.  Many lives have changed and many more have come into this world.  But there has been one constant over all those years – Phyllis Grange (Mom) has been the glue that has held this family together and helped each of us become more than we could have been alone.  She has had a powerful influence for good on everyone who knows her, especially her family, because of her Christ-like example of love and service.  While I have a mother of my own whom I love deeply, I have been blessed abundantly by the tender care and guidance given over the years by Phyllis/Mom and want you to know that she is very dear to my own heart.

But, I am not here today to speak only about our experiences, as pleasant as they have been, with Mom.  I am confident that she would be uncomfortable being the focus of so much attention from all her friends and family.  So my message will also focus on some of the things she believed and taught as she passed through this mortal experience.

Shortly after Mom and Dad were married they welcomed a new little son into the family.  He was healthy and strong and had a head of bright red hair just like both of his grandpas.  Then, for a number of reasons, Mom began to have problems and was required to spend a considerable time in the hospital in Salt Lake.  Some of the experts who cared for her warned her that having more children would put her life in danger but she was insistent that she was going to bring more precious lives into this world so she could have a positive influence on their eternal nature.

Over the years she lovingly delivered 5 more children (one of them my beloved Teresa) and did her very best to raise them up to be righteous children of God.  Each had a personality that made them unique and she carefully devised ways to teach, correct, love, and guide each of them into becoming responsible and faithful followers of Christ and productive members of society.  That was the eternal responsibility she had taken upon herself when she embarked on the journey of motherhood.  Everything she did was to invite her little brood to know and love the Savior (and their neighbors) that they might live with Him again one day. 

Watching over little ones all the time.
Now she has passed from this life and is in the world of Spirits where she is preparing for the day when she will, once again, be united with her devoted husband and, eventually, the rest of her loved ones. 

But what is she doing right now?  What is it that people do when they leave mortality and enter into the next part of their progression? 

The Prophet Alma, while teaching his son Corianton about the rewards of our lives here on earth, taught an eternal principle that give us some knowledge of what happens when we lay our physical bodies down in Mother Earth:

Now concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
And then shall it come to pass that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.  (Alma 40:11-12.)

When Alma talks of a place of rest, he isn't speaking of easy chairs or hammocks for all!!  I doubt Mom would be very happy in that kind of environment.  No, the rest we receive in the Spirit world is rest from the cares of mortality.  We won’t worry about sickness or pain – or hunger – or dementia or any of those things that make this probation hard.

But, we will continue to learn, grow, and become more like our Savior.

The time we have in the Spirit World is for us to hone our spiritual sensitivities and improve our obedience to the principles and doctrines that have been given to help us become Christ-like.  Our probation on earth is finished but our education is not complete and will continue learning until we determine we have had enough OR until we have gained all we need to know to become like our Father and His Son. 

And finally, in the Spirit World we will reunite with those who have gone before us and are awaiting our arrival in this new environment.

Now, I don’t know if they have video cameras in the Spirit World, but I think it would be really cool if we could all see a replay of the reunion between Mom and Kerry and all those who have been there waiting for her to arrive.  I expect it was a pretty happy occasion.

While we may have some sadness with the passing of our dear friend and mother, we are also confident that she is continuing the work she has done so well all the days of her life.  No doubt, she is carrying around a tray of spiritual food, trying to convince someone they need a little more to eat so they can be happy.  And I’m sure she is doing all she can to help any who are discomfited to find peace in their circumstances – all while thinking that she really has nothing positive to offer because she just isn't very talented.

Always helping.
We all know better and will all be grateful for the work she is doing as she prepares a place for us when we make our own arrival in the next part of our eternal journey.

I am thankful for the knowledge we have concerning death and the next life.  The hope of the Savior’s Atonement makes our lives more tolerable – especially when we are struggling with whatever challenges we have.  

May God bless each of us with the knowledge that there are many in the Spirit World who are ready to help us and guide us as we move forward in our eternal progression.  And may He especially bless Phyllis Grange for being a righteous example to all she loves. 

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