Little did I know when I was babysitting a young brother and sister, who lived across the road from me in 1969, I’d become their aunt in 1976. They’d have another brother by the time their uncle and I spoke our marriage vows in our country’s bicentennial year. Before I knew their mother, Robyn as a sister-in-law, she was my neighbor. She and her husband, Carl had purchased a rambling 19th century inn that had been transformed into a farmhouse. They had a lot of work ahead to manage not only the house, but barns and over a 100 acres of farmland. And they did, a little bit at a time, making a life in the hamlet of East Koy. We moved away in 1970, but within four years, I was visiting as her brother’s girlfriend. It’s funny how those things happen isn’t it?
In the years after David and I married, there were countless holiday celebrations at Robyn and Carl’s, the house bursting at the seams with not only family, but friends, the college student who couldn’t go home, random friends of friends. Everyone was welcome and there was a place at the table for you.
Those dinner preparations were chaotic. Sometimes, there were way too many people in the kitchen, kids underfoot, cats and dogs running everywhere. Through it all, Robyn retained her sense of humor, lugging massive turkeys from the oven, while our brother-in-law Bill carved it up with surgical precision. Many hands pitched in. Gravy stirred on the stove, potatoes whipped into fluffy white clouds, another card table set up with more place settings—we were still trying determine the exact headcount. The refrigerator finally had no more space to give—the Jell-O salad, and cream pies went to stay cool in the unheated backroom. After dessert, inevitably the Rook cards appeared and the Scrabble board was set.
Kids grow up, weddings come, as well as funerals, families move away, grandchildren come along and the faces at the table changed. Robyn welcomed more changes in her life and pursued a doctorate successfully, graduating at the age of 62. She embraced new work, becoming part of a cutting edge education method. Based in Rochester, NY, she and her business partner, Ellen, traveled the world to speak and teach. She was passionate and committed to what they were doing to help teachers and businesses take full advantage of this creative learning process. She wasn’t about to retire, even though we often thought it must be time she slowed down and spent more time relaxing. Robyn—you’re past 70 after all. She smiled and worked on.
While her plans for this week included surgery to help with debilitating tremors in her hands, our most gracious Lord took her home on Wednesday morning, July 6. Our hearts are broken. It was sudden and so unexpected. But as I look at how so many kind hands and loving hearts took care of details, provided beds for family, meals, rearranged schedules, traveled, prayed, gave hugs—God is good. His plans are perfect. In the midst of life’s changes, He is unchanging. Psalm 46 has been replaying in my head since that early morning phone call last Wednesday.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging
This is truth. This is hope. Because, the psalmist continues:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Robyn is in the city of God because she placed her trust in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross long ago. She lived a life of faith, not perfectly, but struggling as we all do with doubt, circumstances, failures. Robyn joyfully followed Jesus as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, mentor, entrepreneur, writer, traveler, and an expert roaster of turkeys.
John 14:6: Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
She’s safe, well, reunited with many friends and family, and most of all, rejoicing in the presence of our great Savior, Jesus Christ.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. I Cor. 15:53
And there will be a day when we are all around the table again, where Jesus Himself has prepared a great feast for us. “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”