Eulogy for Jane Aldrich Asher, 8/14/1921 - 6/12/2002 delivered 6/15/2002 at Peace Lutheran Church, Edgemont, AR. (See also plain text version, and obituary.)

I'm Dave Burton, and I believe I am the most fortunate person alive, because I am Jane's firstborn, so I had her the longest.

I think St. Paul was talking about Mom when he wrote to the Galatians that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

That was Mom, that was the example she set for us. She really was ALL those things. I know so many people who don't believe it is really possible to live to that ideal. So they don't try. But Mom proved it by living it, and so she led the people whose lives she touched to try to go and do likewise. That was Mom's kind of evangelism.

Chesterton wrote that:

"It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you ASSUME that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn."

Mom was always finding ways to help people reach their potential. It wasn't exactly that she expected the best, it was more that she ASSUMED the best. She always assumed that we would excel, in school and in life. And so we believed in ourselves. What a gift!

She became a mother, daughter, or sister to many other people, too. Her step-children, of course. But she also became a true daughter to my father's parents, and their only other daughter, my Aunt Carolyn, says that Jane became the sister she never had.

Most of you have met my oldest sister, Patti, and her two beautiful daughters, Cady and Cloe. Some of you know her husband, Alan, who is a professional windsurfer. (Yes, believe it or not, there IS a living in that!)

Well, for most young men, the prospect of their mother-in-law moving in with them is a nightmare. But, when it happened to Alan, Mom became another mother to him.

When Patti had trouble carrying Cloe to term, and the doctor ordered her to spend the last half of her pregnancy in bed, Mom moved in with them to help. She was there for about five months, and when she finally left, after Cloe was born, Alan said he didn't know how they could possibly get along without her.

When Alan contemplated trying to make his first windsurfing instructional video, other people told him what a difficult undertaking it would be. Mom just offered to finance the project. THAT made a huge impression. Alan later said, "she believed in me so much that she was willing to risk her own hard-earned money on my dream." Alan didn't use her money, but he sure needed her encouragement. And he made the video, and it was a great success.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Mom lived them all.

Consider Love and faithfulness. Her love for her children and husbands was unconditional, and so steadfast that in my whole life I truly never had even a moment's doubt of it. And look around this church. The love that she poured out is reflected in the love and admiration that we all had for her.

Joy. She brought joy to so many other lives, but she knew how to experience it herself. St. Paul told the Philippians, from prison, "I have learned to be content... in any circumstance..."

Wow, that's a tall order. But consider Mom's example, of answering trouble with serenity and humor. After my father, Charlie, died, when I was six and Mom was six months pregnant, she had to work very hard to support and raise her family. But what a wonderful life we had together!

Big problems or small, she handled them with serenity and humor. If the refinery Pen managed stank, she'd say, "smells like bread & butter!"

And just eight days ago, only hours after hearing the Dr. tell her there was nothing he could do about the paralyzed vocal cord which was making her cough and choke whenever she tried to eat or drink, she was backing up her electric scooter, and one of her children stepped out of the way. "I'm goin' for toes," joked Mom, with a twinkle in her eye.

Peace. Mom always had strong convictions and opinions, yet I never saw her quarrel with my father or Pen or Marshall. She'd disagree sometimes, but always with love and respect, and without ever being angry or disagreeable. And when the end approached, Mom showed us how to handle it, by her own example of acceptance and tranquility.

Patience. Well, she put up with me. Enough said? Liz and Steve, my wonderful step-sister and -brother, reminded me of how when they went to her with a question or problem, she would dust her hands off on her apron, turn to them and give them her full, undivided attention. Like she did for me. Like so many things she did for us, that I just took for granted.

Kindness and goodness. Everyone whose life she touched can testify to THAT. When Pen died, and my sisters worried about what Mom would do, widows kept telling them, "When my husband died, your mom was the person who got me through it. Don't you worry about your mother. She'll be fine. We'll make sure of it."

She filled her life by quietly meeting other people's needs, in ways large and small. For years she tutored adults who were learning to read. I really have no idea how many, because she hardly ever mentioned such things.

Nothing seemed to faze her. She was a scientist, a sailor, and even, long ago, a pilot, when planes had wings made of fabric. She invented things, too, such as a really beautiful and innovative maternity dress design. But most of all she was a wonderful wife and mother.

One summer, when we lived in Michigan, during the decade between Charlie's death and when she married Pen, she came up with a remarkable way for our family to enjoy our summer together. She bought an uninhabitable, dilapidated old cottage, and that young widow and her three children spent the summer remodeling it, ourselves! I had a blast. She hired the plumbing and heavy labor — the foundation work, and the framing. But we put in the floors, and Uncle Lyman and I did the wiring, and Mom seamed and sanded the plasterboard walls herself. When we were done, it was transformed into a wonderful, cozy little vacation home.

Gentleness and self-control. You know, I think she believed in "spare the rod, spoil the child." But she never quite had the heart for it. When we were bad, she'd threaten, "Am I going to have to get the BELT?" But somehow she never quite did it, and she only punished in love, never, ever out of anger.

In fact, she never lost her temper. Not even once, as far as I know. And in my whole life, I never heard a word escape her lips that you wouldn't hear from the pulpit.

I miss her terribly, but I know she's home now, and I know what she heard Jesus say when she met him in heaven. He said,

"Well done, good and faithful servant! Well done!"