Thoughts on Sue Mitchell’s Life
I walked in fifteen minutes late to the church funeral service. Chris, her youngest son, was eulogizing his mom.
A week and a half earlier, Kathy entered my office and told me, “Sue Mitchell died in an auto accident.” Our church had sent an email to all the members. We met Sue over twenty-five years ago. Neither of us knew her well, but Kathy and I were deeply affected by her.
She was seventy-five years old and married to Bobby for fifty-four years. They were driving to Sea Island for a charitable foundation meeting. They always took the back roads because they felt safer and thought them more scenic. The last thing Bobby remembers is filling the car up with gas. Then he woke up in the hospital. The state trooper told him he was in an accident and his wife passed at the scene. He refused to believe it.
I woke up after a restless night's sleep on the day of the funeral. Kathy and I attended the visitation the night before. There were hundreds of people there. We talked briefly to Bobby and each of the three boys. We told them how sorry we were for their terrible loss. The shock and the resulting sadness pervaded the room. It was a closed coffin. We left devastated. I dreamt about Sue all night.
Sue was a woman of God. She was secure, confident, and quiet. Bobby did the talking. She stood at his side. Whenever I would ask her a question, she would always say something on point with impact. One of those “net-it-out” kinds of statements. She brought instant clarity to any situation we were sharing.
Each of her three boys shared a Bible verse as the theme for their eulogy. We discovered their mom had picked out a verse just for them. She knew their heart from birth and shared their verse with them. I’m sure she received it from God. They each knew their verse by heart because she told it to them all their lives. And now, as men, husbands, and fathers, they were sharing their verse with all of us.
As they spoke, I said to myself, “I am not worthy of being a part of this ceremony.” It was such an intimate and holy time. These sons, these men, were telling us stories of their encounters with their mom. And each of these stories was unique to them. Each story spoke the same message.
“My mom loved me. She was with me. She prayed for me.”
My mom loved me
This was a woman of God. I learned that day what that means. What that looks like. What that feels like as the other person in a relationship with her. And I was hearing it first hand from her sons. As I said, I didn’t know Sue, but with each brief encounter, I felt her power. Now I know it wasn’t her power. It was the power of God in her. And it was a power that resulted in love.
My mom was with me
The oldest son shared that his birthday was January 8th. He is in his late forties, married, kids in high school, and he runs an international business. Life is busy. He said, “My mom called to wish me a happy birthday and to say she wanted to see me that day. I told her there was really no need, but she insisted. As I was about to tell her again not to come by, she hung up on me.” She came by. It was the last time I would see my mom.
He then went on to say how she was always there for him. At every point in his life, whether an important event or the mundane, she was present. I am sure she wasn’t invasive, but she was always in relationship, real relationship, with her boys. She was with them.
My mom prayed for me
The middle son shared a story of always getting caught whenever he did something he shouldn’t be doing. He said, “I always got caught, always. My friends and I didn’t even do things that were that bad. But if I was with them, we would all get caught in the act.”
I found out later in life that my mom prayed I would get caught if I did something I shouldn’t do. “She prayed this prayer, and God answered it,” he said. He then apologized to his friends for being the one who got them busted.
All three sons shared this theme. She loved me. She was with me. She prayed for me.
After the ceremony, Kathy and I attended the reception at the church. I ran into my friend Bruce, who was alone. “Where is Donna?” I asked.
He said, “After the reception, Donna and the other woman in Sue’s prayer group will be getting together for a more intimate time.” To pray, I suspected. In fact, they were praying for the family right then.
I learned yesterday how a woman of God looks inside her most intimate relationships. When we were driving home, I thought, “I should have known her better. I should have taken the time for deeper conversations with Sue.” And even as I write this, I realize I missed out.
Here are the sons’ three Bible verses their mother gave them as their life verse. Only a mom could choose verses for her sons.
Chris - 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Lee - Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Bobby - Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.