Being the fourth in a family of seven children, she declined opportunities to use her artistic talents to pursue a career in design graphics. She counted as of little account the fact that she never enjoyed the experience of being a wife and mother. She lived in conditions that most who read this would consider “sub-standard”, and in an economically depressed part of the country. She gave of herself for most of her life, with little encouragement or support from most of her siblings, to serve as primary caregiver for her aging parents. She lost her Father several years ago and continued steadfastly to assure the comfort, safety and happiness of her now ninety-one year old Mother. She did all of this and more, for many years under the shadow of a lurking heart ailment and more recently while battling with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. At the age of fifty-seven, she passed into eternity on Sunday afternoon, July 14. Even in her final hours, as her life ebbed away, she expressed concern for her Mother’s welfare and happiness.
Her pastor said of her, “She served her Lord by serving her mother. She was a friend and a woman with a heart of love for others.” When I read that pastor’s comment I immediately thought of the words of the Apostle who selflessly gave of himself on behalf of others: “… hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I reflected on the many ways in which the life of this woman instructs me regarding what selfless, sacrificial Spirit-generated love looks like when clothed in the flesh and bone of imperfect and flawed people. I pondered the magnificence of such love as it was displayed by the Sinless Perfect One as He laid down his life for me, on the Cross of Calvary. I was deeply moved by the example of this woman. I was blessed again by the example and the resulting benefits of my Savior’s love.
I am thankful for the life of this woman and for what it has taught me about sacrificial love in the duty of honoring mother and father. The woman’s name is Noreen Jeske. She was my little sister, but more importantly she was a child of God by virtue of her faith in Christ, and her acceptance of His work on the cross as a sacrifice for her.