(My Mother)

14 September 1905 - 3 February 1981

Ben H. Swett
Fayetteville, Arkansas, and
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
February 1981

I know this lady well. So do many of you. To the extent we know her, we know she is not here.

We know she has always been an example of the Lord's statement, "The spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail." She was physically frail. What we remember is her indomitable spirit, her vitality of heart and mind. We know that one such as she will not live in a cage. Certain freedom-loving birds are like that, too. When the flesh became a barrier, rather than a tool, she would decide to be free.

She knew the truth that sets us free--free from life-long bondage to the fear of death--the truth that Jesus used his own body to demonstrate: when we die, we leave our body of flesh and continue as a spirit. She wrote:


Aloft ... far off ..
in luminous dark and virgin timelessness,
I drifted ... dreamlessly suspended
upon the silver-threaded, variant song
of an invisible soloist who poured
his whole transcendent ecstasy of Being
into the delighted ears of God.

Erratic static rattled my receptors
into un-wanted consciousness
that the angelic voice
was only a mocking-bird, night-singing
outside the hospital wall ...
and the racket, a new room-mate yelling:

Shut up, you darn-fool bird,
and let me sleep!

Laughter strummed a pain beneath my ribs;
and a sardonic saxophone of thought replied:

Oh, Yes! If Gabriel himself shall choose
to sound his glorious trumpet in the night
instead of in the more convenient day,
some folks will yank the blankets up,
and plug their ears, and snarl:

Go away, Gabriel; and let me sleep!

And Gabriel, I think, will do just that;
and those whom mocking-birds-at-night annoy
will never wake to hear ... much less to be ...
angels, whose gladness penetrates
dumb fear, dense pain, dark loneliness,
to lift the spirit free of baneful bones,
out ... into boundless joy.

But Gabriel need not whistle twice for me
if he can lip such rapturous melody
as mocking-birds rain skyward in the night!
On such a song, I made my solo flight;
and I will wake exultant in that hour
when joy, long practiced, is the power
on which I rise to immortality.

Since she is not here, we may speculate as to where she is now. And we can have some idea of where she is, when we remember that love is a magnet. We are all attracted to whatever or whoever we love. That is where we go whenever we are free to do so.

This lady had laid up her treasure in heaven: love of God, of the Master, of her father and mother, family and friends who have gone before her. She will go to them now that the barriers of this life are removed.

How strong is that magnet we call "love"? She expressed it this way, concerning her love for her first husband:

My heart was drawn to yours when you came near.
We orbited as one until that year ...
that night. You sped too far away ... too far
along the star-dust path to some new star.

My self was so en-grown on yours, my heart
was torn out, bleeding, when we had to part.
The limping pulse death left to me was just
enough of love to do what duty must.

Nine thousand, and twelve tens of days have spun
their spiral webs of contrails round the sun;
and still I fling my lost heart into space,
yearning to find your orbit ... your embrace.

So she knew, and when we think about it, we know that spirit gives life. We know that love is a magnet. And we know Jesus showed these principles are true both here and hereafter.

We can know that Marcia Harriet Fadner Swett Rozek Arpin is and always was spirit rather than flesh. We can see that she is not here. And we can have a pretty good idea of where she is, and who she is with.

We have reason to understand how it will be with us.

We will miss her, and the time of separation may seem long, but it will no doubt seem very short when we look back on it together.

Finally, we can understand exactly what she was saying to us when she wrote:

When life is done,
its battles won ... or lost,
just lay me by
without a sigh for cost.

Some dread to die;
not so am I ... but glad.
Life is the shroud
of misty cloud, and sad.

Death is the gate
that, soon or late, sets free
and opens eyes,
and clears the skies, for me.

Then strength shall race
freer than space on wings;
and I shall know,
and see, and do ... all things.

Mourn not for me!
Parting is brief ... not long.
No, do not weep;
hush me to sleep with song.

Hymn: "In the Sweet Bye and Bye"

Please stand for the benediction.
Our Father, into Thy hands we commend her spirit.

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