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Showing posts with label Columbus Georgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Columbus Georgia. Show all posts

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Crystal Michelle Fallin’s Eulogy

Crystal Fallin Eulogy

Please accept our thanks for gathering here today to celebrate the life of one of the most beautiful and talented people I know, our daughter Crystal Michelle Fallin.  I chose to speak at my daughter’s funeral because I want to publicly thank God for allowing us to have Crystal to love for the past thirty-five years.  There have been moments of extreme joy and pride as we watched her develop into a gorgeous young lady. There have been moments of concern as she made choices that proved to be detrimental to her.  Everyone who was a part of Crystal’s life wish with me that we could have been a more positive influence at critical markers on herhighway of life.  Through it all, we have become a part of her and she has definitely become a part of us.

Yes, Peggy and I lost a child.  Some of you lost a sister or an aunt, a niece, a cousin, or a friend.  Losing a child ranks among the most difficult things a person ever has to face.  But we are not the first to experience the loss of a child.  Some of you in this room know first-hand what it is like.  You’ve been there.  
But so has our Creator God.  God sent his Son, born in a manger.  We celebrate His birth every year at Christmas.  We remember his death on the cross every Good Friday and celebrate His resurrection every Easter morning.  Jesus Christ died on the cross and quit that grave, that we, every one of us, might have eternal life.  Death was defeated that first Easter morn.  

A couple of interesting things happened that day as the Son of God hanged on the cross.  He spoke to a thief that was hanging on a cross nearby and said “Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise”.  He forgave that thief and gave to him eternal life.  The thief did nothing to earn it.  He simply believed on Jesus.  John 3:16 says it all, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should have eternal life”.  
Do you know how hard it was for God to give His Son that day?  The Bible tells us that there was darkness over all the earth from Noon until 3 o’clock that day.  God empathizes with those of us who have experience the death of a child.  

I say that to say this…..we have every right to celebrate the life of Crystal today because we have hope that she is now with Christ in Paradise.  The parting words from her beloved Grandmother who went to heaven only 30 days before Crystal’s death were these, “Crystal, I’m going to heaven soon.  I will wait for you there near the Eastern Gate”.  Well, Crystal told me that she wanted to go right then.  2ndPeter 3:9  tell us that it is not God’s will that any should perish.  Luke tells us about the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  The shepherd searched until he found that lost sheep.  I believe He found Crystal on Anguilla and by faith I can believe she has met Grandma near the Eastern Gate.  Now, let’s celebrate her life and give thanks.

Crystal was born on June 19, 1984 in Newnan, Georgia.  I remember those LaMazclasses where I was supposed to learn how to encourage Peggy to breathe during the delivery.  When the time came, it was I who had trouble remembering how to breathe!  Crystal was a happy baby.  The only times she was unhappy were when we were late with her food or she had an earache, or perhaps when we told her she couldn’t do something that she wanted to do.  We lived in a tri-level house and her way of navigating the stairs was to sit down and bounce down them, one step at a time.  She loved to climb into the pots and pans storage area in the kitchen and relocate all the pots and pans onto the kitchen floor so she would have her own little playhouse.  At 18 months, she begged to get on top of Angela’s trampoline.  When I would give in to her incessant pleading, and place her on the mat, she would immediately run to the far side and start jumping up and down near the very edge.  When I would go around to get her, she simply switched sides and continued her jumping, all the time laughing at my frantic yells to Mom to come out there and help me hem her up and get her down.  That should have given me a strong clue as to the risk taker that she would become.  

We moved to Florida when she was around 2 years old.  Until age three, we had sitters to stay with her while her mother and I were at work and Angela was at school.  At age 3, we enrolled her in a pre-K class at a facility known as Kiddie Kollege.  Well, I had taught her to rough house a bit and she carried that training to school with her.  Her daycare teacher  was teaching the alphabet to those 3 year old kids.  She would get frustrated with Crystal because she was a fast learner and would become bored at times and the other kids would be watching Crystal instead of paying attention to the teacher. Yes, at that age, Crystal was a leader.  She thought it was her place to be in the front of the line when they marched in single file form one activity to another.  One day, two boys wanted to be first.  The teacher told me that she knew trouble was brewing when from across the room, she saw Crystal put up her little fists and start chanting “Be-bo, be-bo, be-bo”.  Before she could get across the room, Crystal had taken both of those guys to the floor.

She began to mellow out at the mature age of 4, becoming a very loving little girl who loved to wear a certain little red dress.  Her babysitter, Miss Jodi fondly recalls that Crystal would run around all day in that same little red dress. Mom would have to wash it almost every night so it would be ready to wear the next day.  
In the early grades at public schools, all the teachers loved her and called her their Huggy Bear.  She would greet them every morning with a big smile and a hug.  At age seven, she started classes at the St. Augustine Academy of Fine Arts.  She loved ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance.  During her seven years in that dance group, she took multiple dance honors, even winning first place in International Dance Competition in Orlando.  
She danced in the Nutcracker Ballet that was performed by the St. Augustine Premier Ballet Company every year, sometimes with multiple roles….her mother says as many as six.  During these same years, she took piano lessons and found that she had a love for and ability to quickly learn music.

In Middle School, Crystal began to display a strong need for acceptance by her peers.  No longer was she driven by a need to please her teacher so much.  Crystal attended high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado and at St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine.  She attended St. Johns River State College as well.  Crystal worked various jobs throughout her life in the hospitality industry.  She loved her Grandmother Mary with whom she shared a love of pencil art.  She was very artistic and had an unusual ability to put together color combinations to make pictures just seem to come to life.  We have several framed pieces of her artwork in our home.  But art was only one of the things she shared with her Grandmother Mary.  Like her grandmother, she was particularly fond of cats.  They both loved to write letters, send cards, and help people in need.  Within the last year or so, she asked me to visit one of her friends, an older man who was in the hospital.  She wanted me to pray with him.  I took him a small flower and did just that.  She was pleased and that made me smile.

One of the favorite pastimes when spending time with her Grandmother was playing the Old Maid card game.   Even as a little girl, she loved to stick her Grandmother with that Old Maid card.  
Scrabble was a family game that she loved.  She and her Dad would accuse her mother-who holds a degree in English—of fabricating new words unknown to Webster, in an effort to win.  Today, we cherish those happy times we spent together.

Crystal had a seemingly insatiable need for feeling like she was accepted and tried very hard to gain and maintain that status with everyone.  Fueled by a low self-esteem, she made some poor choices in her search for acceptance, love, and happiness.  But nothing dampened the compassion which she felt for others, particularly those in financial or physical need.  She would order items from Amazon for them instead of using her allowance for fulfillment of her own wishes. As I said, she would visit her friends in the hospital, take them flowers, and even ask me to pray for them.  She had a compassionate heart.

Some of her friends held a beautiful Memorial service for her on the beach in St. Augustine last Saturday evening.    Her compassion heart and love for her friends were the most mentioned memories among them.  
As humans, we make choices.  Sometimes those choices are non-consequential while others have very long-lasting consequences.  Crystal made some bad choicesin life.  If we are totally honest, so have we all.
So did the thief that was hanging beside Jesus on the cross.  Yet, true to what the Bible tells us, Jesus saw beyond the outward appearance and could see the thoughts and intents of the man’s heart.  1 Samuel 16 verse 7 tells us, 
for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  Jesus took him to Paradise that very day!

Crystal had long telephone conversation with a couple of us just days before her death, and there was a distinct difference that we both noticed in her.  At age 35, Crystal wore some battle scars from having been mistreated by the world around her.   As I told you, her grandmother had left her with these parting words, “I want you to be in heaven with me one day.  I will wait for you at the Eastern Gate”.   I’m thinking that on August 18, a reunion took place near that Eastern Gate because Jesus Christ never gave up on Crystal….He saw her heart.
Through the years, He never lost track of Crystal.  And if a sparrow falling from the sky does not miss his eye, he certainly saw Crystal in her moment of greatest need.

This poem by Myra Brooks Welch came to mind as I thought about how our social system sometimes gives up on people and writes them off as a loss.  But then the Master comes on the scene……transformations take place in nanoseconds.

'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."
"And many a person with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
Another bad choice and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
- Myra Brooks Welch

Dear Family and Friends, We have hope.  Hope that is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I Samuel 17:10
King James Bible
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Thursday, July 25, 2019

My Mother's Garden


In Loving Memory:
Mary Lee (Smith) Brown
April 16, 1928, Canton, Georgia
- July 19, 2019, Columbus, Georgia

Friday, April 21, 2017

"The rushes cried Abide, Abide"

Song of the Chattahoochee

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover's pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried Abide, abide,
The wilful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said Stay,
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Georgian Country Flowers


Each year, I like to post pictures of Mary's flowers.  She is now 87 years old and still tries to nurture and care for flowers that were past down to her from her mother Eloise McArthur.  Some of these plants are over 100 years old.  I love the country charm of the old wooden fence and flowers growing out of concrete blocks.  The bottom picture will someday be a oil painting hanging on my bedroom wall.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Southern Cotton Fields and A Remembrance for Veterans 'In Flander Fields'

These pictures are of Cotton fields off of Hwy 82 in South Georgia in November.  The cotton looks like a blanket of white snow.  I had to stop the car when I saw the vast white landscape of the fields.  My grandfather Smith had a cotton farm in Alabama and he worked his entire life in cotton mills as did several of my uncles and aunts.  My parents worked in cotton mills when I was preschool age and elementary age.  I remember my mother coming home with cotton stuck in her hair.  It was hard work and she was tired and sleepy all the time.  The BBC drama 'North and South' has played on Public Broadcasting several times and the drama series reminder me of what it was like for my parents and me living in drafted cotton mill houses with river rats running under my bed during the night.  My young parents worked the second and third shifts which is evening and night shifts and I did not see them during the week, only on weekends.  Our cotton mill houses were located close to the Chattahoochee River.  I played on that river bank many times and have fond memories of playing with my friends who were as poor as me.  We played baseball with sticks and plums and used old tree stumps as bases.  It was fun improvising games off the river bank.  I am the granddaughter and daughter of cotton mill workers.  I am very proud of their perseverance and determination to work diligently so they could offer their children a better life. 

The cotton mills are now closed and converted to stores, restaurants, college classrooms and museums but I will never forget the hard struggles of the families who worked those mills.  I remember standing in line at the Community center to receive free polio shots.  I never was vaccinated as a child because my parents could not afford it. As a result, I was often sick and had every childhood disease of the day.  Due to poor health and illness, I was hospitalized several times and I wonder who footed the bills.  I did not see a dentist until I was 13 years old and it was through the free services of the health department and all he could do was pulled my tooth because he was not allowed to fill teeth for cavities.  My grandmother made my school clothes out of flour sacks and fabric that she purchased in a country grocery store.  I'm not complaining because when I look back, I was active, happy, and had a creative imagination and the greatest treasure a child can have:  Love and the majestic outdoors as my playground. 

The image is from the BBC  North and South mini series 2004.  The swirling cotton in the air was typical of the cotton mills of the south where my young parents worked. I still have memories of cotton all over my mom's hair and clothes.  

As I have remember my childhood, I still live in a free society with privileges and rights that gives me hope for our future that many in our world do not have so I want to honor and remember veterans for their bravery and sacrifices. Their stories need to be told.  They must never be forgotten.

For Veterans Day a poem by John McCrea

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Following the death of his friend - Alexis Helmer - during the Second Battle of Ypres, Major John McCrae (a Canadian medical doctor from Guelph, Ontario) wrote "In Flanders Fields." 
McCrae's poem was published in the British magazine, Punch, in December of 1915.  It was soon printed elsewhere, including the United States (then contemplating whether to join the war).
During the late afternoon of April 22, 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres began.  (The First Battle of Ypres took place during the autumn of 1915.)  The Second Battle produced mass casualties:  Finally, after four days of severe fighting, most of the Canadian forces were withdrawn on 26 April [1915]. About 6000 officers and men of the Canadian Division had been killed, wounded, captured, or had simply disappeared.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mary's Summer Flowers 2014

As long as my mother is able to grow flowers in her yard, I will celebrate their beauty on this blog. She is 86 years old and has shown incredible strength through many sorrows this year.  The beauty of these flowers can't compare to the beauty of her inner spirit.