Proverbs 31 opens a description of the attributes to search for in a wife, Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
The list goes on for over twenty verses listing qualities of such an ideal woman.
Who can find..? Indeed?
But I met her… when I was a young wife and mother searching for more to life than just playing house and living for the weekend.
Yesterday I traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to honor the life of a genuine Proverbs 31 woman, Frances Farrish.
My day started early. Up before five, in the shower, dressed and out the door by six. It was two hours up corridor X to Tupelo, Mississippi to meet my Mom. She had a friend drop her at the Cracker Barrel on her way to work. When I arrived less than ten minutes later, she sat in one of the oversized white rockers on the front porch patiently waiting. I pulled right up to the front and helped my Mom into the front seat beside me and off we went; another nearly two hours on to Memphis. No time to waste, visitation was to begin at 10:30 and I would need to stop and change into my dress before we arrived.
It was a sweet time as we toodled on up the interstate. Angry clouds covered the sky before us as we pressed through heavy downpours, showers and back through downpours again. I was glad Charles had thrown the stadium umbrella in the car when he hung my dress in the back seat.
Somewhere on the north side of Holly Springs, Mississippi we caught just a glimpse of blue skies as we hoped that the clouds might break. The closer we got to Memphis the more blue and fewer dark clouds we saw.
My phone had us cut up to the loop that goes through Memphis and our conversation focused more on following directions than catching up on family comings and goings.
We found the Memorial Gardens just before ten o’clock with no hiccups and drove on past in search for a restroom to change into my dress.
Check. Back onto the busy, busy streets of Memphis and back up Poplar Avenue to the lush green sanctuary called Memorial Park. It must be well over a hundred acres of pristine manicured lawn, trees and gardens. The clouds had rolled back from heavy rains to vivid blue as a slight wind blew giant drops of water onto the car as we drove under the branches of massive and majestic oaks. It was picturesque.
We found the facility and parked under the shade of another old oak. Sitting in the car with the air conditioning running because it is June in Memphis, Tennessee and the humidity was near one hundred percent, we both powdered our faces and added one last layer of lipstick.
It was time to go in … and share our condolences with others there to celebrate a life well lived.
Frances Boyd Farrish was born in the Spring of 1929 and was 88 years the morning she opened her eyes in heaven to see Jesus face to face. Her husband had gone on before her twenty-some odd years earlier having moved to Memphis to be close to their daughter a few years before he had left her. Four children – two sons, a daughter and another son, in that order.
I met this soft-spoken woman some thirty years ago when I was a young wife and mom struggling to find a deeper meaning to life. She had raised their children and it was just her and Mr. Farrish now, an empty nest for sure. But myself and a small handful of other young mommies in the same chapter of life, reaped the fruits of her wisdom, grace and love for Jesus.
I look back on the few years that I sat at her feet with a longing to be able to go back and glean more than I did. I left too much of what she shared with us laying on the table. It was there for the taking. In my immaturity and business I didn’t stop and marinate long enough to soak up more of what she gave.
I suppose we all live with regrets…I would-a’, should-a’, could-a’. But I still can’t believe how blessed I was to have been given a few impressionable years, a small window of time if you will, to learn from such a woman as Frances Farrish.
The service was truly a celebration of her life.
Boyd, one of her seventeen grandchildren, welcomed everyone and thanking us for coming giving us a few details such as important dates and names. Next her precious daughter took the podium to read a few verses from Proverbs 31 and share how she had talked to her mom everyday and seen her most everyday for the last twenty-five years. She shared a few values her mom had taught her. And she told us about the countless times she would step inside her mom’s back door to hear her voice coming from her bedroom where her mom sat for hours talking to Jesus. She shared what a blessing it was to have had her so near for all those years. It was a sweet, sweet testimony.
Janet introduced me and it was my turn. I am a product of a few of her prayers too. I stood before her family and friends and shared my blog post from over a year ago when we had written about Ruth from the Bible stating that Mrs. Farrish was my Naomi. Ask Him to Show Her To You.
Side note: in many old transcripts of The Bible, the book of Ruth follows Proverbs. I think it’s only fitting that Ruth’s story follow the verses of the last chapter of Proverbs that list the qualities of a virtuous wife.
Her youngest son Henry followed, sharing some of the fun and light hearted memories from his childhood. He read a few notes another brothers had written for the morning. the oldest shared precious words of encouragement and honored their mom. Henry closed out so beautifully with part of his story and the value of the time she had spent praying for each of them. He closed by sharing the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus and simply shared that if that was something any of us wanted to know more about that he would love to chat afterwards.
It was perfect.
It Is Well With My Soul was the closing tribute sung by one of the worship ministers from her church. And another grandson stepped to the podium with the task of closing us in prayer, but not without sharing a sweet story or two about his Mamaw as we all laughed at her sense of humor and the antics of dealing with such a precious grandson.
There was no official “minister” there to preach.
- Her life was message enough.
- Her children are the evidence of her faith walking out before her.
- Her grandchildren are her reward.
The elderly gentlemen came to the front and rolled the casket up the aisle with her family proudly and humbly following her body out of the building.
The interment was immediately following and the family invited everyone to join them back there for a reception.
I helped my mom back to the car and we opted to head back to Mississippi and then on to my promised land of Birmingham, Alabama. While it would have been nice to get to stay and visit with her children, it was time to allow them their own time.
Mom and I stopped for lunch, knowing all-too-well that one should never come to Memphis without stopping for Memphis barbecue. There is none other like it – hands down; best I can tell. While I dearly love Birmingham, Alabama they really don’t know what barbecue is supposed to taste like. (or we haven’t found it here)
We were on the road by two o’clock, headed back southeast. Only a few miles out of the city the clouds were back and rain continued to fall heavier and heavier as we journeyed on down 78. Sometime before we reached my mom’s home the rain had stopped. She was glad to be back home and I was glad to lose the dress and heals for a little more comfort.
My sister Debbie and her daughter Holly stopped in for a reunion visit. We talked with excitement of Holly’s upcoming move into her very own first house and plans she has for a few changes to the site. After an hour or so it was clear that mom needed to get some rest so they went on home and I got in the road for my two-hour cruise back to Alabama.
It was a day I won’t soon forget.
Mrs. Farrish left an imprint of Jesus in mine and many other’s lives.
Her price is far above rubies.