Saturday, March 16, 2013
Great Aunt Lena
My father's Aunt by marriage, Lena Adkins, was buried today near Chapmanville, in Logan Co. West Virginia. Aunt Lena was just a few days shy of her 94th birthday when she went to be with the Lord late last week. She was quite a special lady who left her mark upon all who knew her. She lived a long and productive life. Her full obituary can be found Here
I had the privilege of being one of five (that's right) FIVE ministers who had part in the two hour service today. In fact it was actually SIX who were involved - counting another pastor who is a family friend who happened to be in the congregation - who was called upon to dismiss us in prayer.
Now that's not a bad as it may sound, as my Dad, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr., and Aunt Lena's Pastor, Rev. John Godby, did the eulogy and the message, respectively. The rest of us had only smaller roles in reading the obituary, reading scripture passages, and introducing songs.
Aunt Lena was a faithful member of First Baptist Church of McConnell (WV) for many years. Until her illness over the past five years, she had been very active in many ministries of the church. Her Pastor had done the funeral services of her son Kenny (five years ago this week) and her husband (my Grandfather's brother) 25 years ago.
Dad, of course, was her nephew. It was Dad who was preaching in Revival Meeting at the old Dehue Community Church in 1949 the night when Uncle "Crutch" and Aunt Lena accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. My Grandfather's brother, Millard "Crutch" Adkins had been a bad alcoholic, but when he gave his life to the Lord, he had a complete turnaround. A few months after Crutch's conversion, Dad ran into Lena's mother on a bus ride from Logan to Dehue. In her thick Italian accent, Mrs. Carrere asked Dad, "Do you think the Crutch is a good man now?" Dad assured her that he thought there had been a big change in his uncle. "Well", Mrs. Carrere said, "He no whip-a my Lena no more!"
Dad always seemed to be a favorite of Lena's and he would always visit her whenever possible on trips to Logan Co. I was included, I'm sure, because I am his son, and I was the little boy that used to play around their house at Dehue. I was several years younger than her sons Skeeter and Kenny, but they were always good to their little 2nd cousin. I have many fond memories of time spent back in the 50's with all of my Grandfather's brothers and sisters and their children in that close family and their tight knit coal mining community. I'm glad Skeet asked me to be involved in the service today. It was an honor.
The other two ministers involved also had special links to Aunt Lena. Rev. Mike Manuel was also a nephew, married to her sister's daughter. Rev. Donnie Wells also grew up in the Dehue comunity, and Aunt Lena and Uncle Crutch had been like second parents to him as a child. He had remained close to them through the years.
It was nice to see a number of cousins and other relatives who now live scattered around the eastern United States - even though the occasion was somewhat bittersweet.
I marveled as I sat there in the service and looked at the many faces in the crowd. When did we all grow so old?
I began to think about the fact that Skeeter is 70 years old. How'd that happen? He and I both have grandchildren who are teenagers! My "little" brother, Bruce (with gray beard and like myself, follically challenged) sat there with our Mom who now often does not even know who we are. Dad is nearly 86, and aside from one living Aunt (Marie - only a few years his senior) on the Adkins side of the family, he is the oldest of all the surviving cousins.
Cliche' as it seems, I have to ask, "Where has the time gone?"
With the passing of Aunt Lena, another chapter of our past has drawn to a close.
She was a throwback to a different time - and a very different culture.
Lena was the daughter of Italian immigrants,who had moved from Philadelphia, to the rough mountains of West Virginia, lured by plentiful work in the coal mines. She spent her life there within a fifteen mile radius of where she had married, raised her childrne, and finally died last week.
She exemplified the virtues of faith in God, love of family and community, and hard work. She was a wonderful sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, and great grandmother. She was a professional homemaker who eventually went to work outside the home. She was a great witness to the love of God and her life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. She was also a heck of a cook! Oh, how I loved her meatballs, spaghetti, lasagna, and baked Ziti. Her dishes always emptied first at the annual Dehue Community Reunion.
She leaves behind a great testimony, and a Christian heritage in a world that has changed immensely throughout her lifetime.
It was sad to say "farewell" to her today, but we have the assurance that we will see her again one day soon in the presence of our Lord. We know Heaven is just a little sweeter today, because Lena Immaculate Carrere Adkins has moved into her mansion there on Golden Avenue.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints."
Rest in Peace Aunt Lena. Thanks for the example and thanks for the memories.