Our Beautiful Hen

February 9, 2012 § 6 Comments

“A few days ago you and your mother came home with flowers.”
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

As I write, Katherine’s Mom, Mildred ‘Millie’ Snider, is at the threshold of eternity. She has bravely battled pancreatic cancer, having even survived surgery that lengthened her days, with dignity. God has blessed her. By His grace and through her courage she was able to attend her granddaughter’s wedding last summer, something no one thought possible when her battle began.

Just last week our entire family was able to spend a few days with ‘the Hen’ as we affectionately call her. It was a rich weekend of love, songs, memories and touch. All were the beneficiaries of the grace and peace that have characterized her entire life.

Katherine’s Mom was born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, a Mayberry sort of town outside of Winston Salem. That is no exaggeration. She grew up with and sang in the church youth choir alongside of Andy Griffith in the Moravian Church both were raised in. Mt. Airy was the model after which Mayberry was fashioned for the TV series. Only this past week we discovered that she had a pony named Star. She was delighted with an old picture of her and Star that I dug out of their garage.

This April she and Katherine’s Dad, Rev. Paul A. Snider, will have celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. The story of their first encounter and eventual engagement and wedding are stunning. Together they bore five wonderful children, two boys, one of whom died within days of his birth, and three girls. I am blessed to be married to their baby. To our children and all her grandchildren, the Hen is known as ‘Oma.’

Hers was always a simple life of beauty, music, family and faith. One could not miss her love for Jesus – she has no qualms with singing to and speaking with Him in the moment, and when she does, it is obvious that He is there. She and Katherine’s Dad were cut out of the old school mold pastor-wife team: singing duets, playing piano, laboring overseas – you name it, they did it – together.

She loved life and constantly saw opportunities to take it fully in. While transporting Katherine and her siblings to college she would sometimes stop on I-55 just to pick wild flowers in the median (thus the quote at the head of this post). Even in that Hospice room she took flowers out of the vases and put them in her hair. She always made the nastiest instant coffee, a long-running joke between us, and cooked the best southern fried chicken you’ll ever eat.

Last Sunday in worship I spoke on the beauty of God in Creation and I can’t think of a better word to describe the Hen. She is simply beautiful in every way and every direction. Since that day it has been heartening and sweet to be approached by people who simply ask, ‘How is the Hen?’

In a matter of days or weeks we will suffer a deep loss. As I will one day with my own Mom, I will feel profound grief when it is time for Hen to go. But Katherine’s Mom will be home, of that I am certain. She will be reunited with friends, fellow parishioners, her parents and siblings, and to her joy, her own dear Karsten – not to mention the One she ever lives before – Jesus.

Robinson’s words ring powerful here (from the lips of an old retired pastor to his grandchild):

“While you read this, I am imperishable, somehow more alive than I have ever been, in the strength of my youth, with dear ones beside me.”

This morning, in my own devotions, I read of Enoch, who walked with God and then was taken away (Genesis 5:25). Hebrews 11:5 says that he ‘was taken from this life,’ but the old King James Version reads that he was ‘translated,’ and I think this is what we witnessed this past weekend – a beautiful saint who bears evidences that heaven itself is finding its way into one it holds dear – before our very eyes and hearts.

What beautiful news.


§ 6 Responses to Our Beautiful Hen

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