(Pastor Bob’s tribute to his mother, Alice, at her Memorial Service at the Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, California. August 3, 2019)
First, I would like to thank Pastor Cindy for her ministry in this church. Our family offers our condolences over the recent death of her mother. My mom (and my dad) had deep respect for Cindy’s commitment to Christ, her inspiring biblical preaching, and her passion for social justice.
Thank you to Myles Ellis for sharing your musical talent with us this morning. You helped us feel mom’s presence with “Climb Every Mountain.” I would like to thank the members of this church for the gift of your love and friendship to my mom and dad. A special thank you to Nita Pinney and the members of the Women’s Bible Study—she loved being with you all.
Thank you to the Deacons for hosting the reception after the service this morning.
I would like to thank the members of my church in Pismo Beach who, during the last 3 months of mom’s life, encouraged me to go and be with her as often as I could.
Peter and I are thankful for our wives—the four of us did our best to be there for mom.
My brother, Peter and I, join our Uncle Ted, in thanking all of you, for being here today in this celebration of mom’s life. Mom spoke often of her gratitude for the gift of family. Thank you to all the family here today.
A few days after mom died I was in my car, and the iconic soundtrack from Star Wars came on the radio. It made me smile because I was 18 when that movie came out 42 years ago.
And it made me tear up because it reminded me of what a special childhood my brother Pete and I enjoyed in Thailand, Oregon, Michigan and California.
Pete, I love you, it's been quite a journey and all along the way Mom’s love encircled us, inspired us, comforted us and challenged us to pursue our dreams. I’m so proud and thankful to be your brother.
Returning to that day after mom’s death as I was parked on a bluff, two blocks from my church, thinking of mom while enjoying the view of waves breaking on the beach, and the Pismo Beach Pier in the distance crowded with summer tourists, that stirring soundtrack of Star Wars in my ears, the thought suddenly hit me that one of the countless and priceless gifts that mom gave to Peter and me was a soundtrack for our childhood. A soundtrack that reflected the teachings, values, and dreams that mom wanted to pass on to us, and instill in us, before we left home to find our own way in the world.
As a pastor’s wife, mom understood the power of music to heal, to inspire, to expand our world view. The soundtrack of my childhood had three main elements:
--The hymns of the church
--The music of Rodgers and Hammerstein
--And the lyrical poetry of Simon and Garfunkel
That three-fold soundtrack produced and edited by mom, will forever play in my heart. How wonderful of mom to know that the music she shared with Peter and me would help us to navigate the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of our lives.
One of the songs from that eclectic soundtrack that mom would sing to us in our Rambler station wagon our summer road trips to our Grandparent’s house in San Diego is entitled, “My Favorite Things”.
It’s a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, The Sound of Music. Mom would sing the verses, so enthusiastically, including this one:
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things…”
And then my brother Peter and I would eagerly join her on the refrain:
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Friends, during times that I will feel sad I will remember some of mom’s favorite things and drawing close to her, in spirit, I won’t feel so bad.
--Mom’s favorite poet: Carl Sandburg
--Her favorite book: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
--Her favorite political leader: a tie between Eleanor Roosevelt and Barak Obama
--mom’s favorite skill: Editing!
Mom edited books for Prentice Hall Publishing Company; for a national Journal for English teachers published at Michigan State University; She typed and edited correspondences and reports while working in the Dean’s office at Stanford; she edited my sermons for years before, thanks to her, I developed wings to fly on my own; and mom edited countless newsletters, (AAUW, Presbyterian Women) writings, manuals, even children’s books.
If mom could have edited this tribute to her she eagerly would have! If they need editors in heaven, I’m sure mom has already worked her way up the ladder to St. Peter.
Friends, when the dog bites, the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad—I will remember:
--Mom’s favorite song to slow dance to with my dad: Moon River
--Mom’s favorite singer: Andy Williams
--Her favorite flavor of ice cream from Baskin-Robbins: Jamoca Almond Fudge
--Her favorite TV show: The West Wing
--Her favorite team: A tie between the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors
--Her favorite athlete: Steph Curry
--Her proudest accomplishment as a young woman: attending UCLA and later graduating from the University of California, Berkeley.
When I’m feeling sad—I’ll remember mom’s favorite phrase: “You make me smile with my heart” A phrase my dad wrote on countless notes, letters, birthday and anniversary cards which he gave her during their over 50 plus years of marriage. He’d write: “Alice, you make me smile with my heart.”
--Mom’s favorite quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams". Eleanor Roosevelt
I close by sharing words inspired by Rabbi Jack Riemer. Using his poetic structure, I offer my own words in tribute to Alice Augusta Lindquist Crouch, a woman of faith, a beloved daughter, sister, mom, and aunt—a good neighbor, a loyal friend.
When viewing a glorious sunset; We remember her.
When the moon is full and stars shine bright: We remember her.
When Pelicans fly in formation over the Pismo Beach pier—we remember her.
When fall gives way to spring and flowers bloom—we remember her.
When the house lights in the theatre dim, and the overture begins, we remember her.
When people in church bow their heads to join in prayer: We remember her.
When we see a child in tears and then held and comforted by his mother—we remember her.
When we are “weary or feeling small… and need a bridge over troubled water”—we remember her.
When we experience triumphs which would not have been possible without her guidance and love—we remember her.
When her dream is realized one day and a caring, bright, courageous and progressive woman is elected President of these United States—Oh yes, we will remember her.
Finally, whenever and wherever a group of people: Christians, Muslims or Jews, strive together to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with their God”—We will remember her, we will remember, Alice Crouch, we will remember Mom.
I love you, Mom. You make me smile with my heart.