My mom passed away eight years ago on March 6. I think of her often and appreciate her legacy in the lives of many people. We compiled the following list just after she died:
Mom’s Rules for Living A Random Compilation
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink—they multiply while you’re away
- Go to church every week, including during vacation
- Never raise your voice in the house, and never argue with your husband in front of the kids
- Faithfully visit lonely people in convalescent homes
- Read books to your children at nap time and bedtime
- Plant flowers
- Spend time with God every morning
- Four kinds of pie after Thanksgiving dinner are better than 3 and two weeks of camping are better than one
- Teach children to sing—God puts music in every heart
- Be patriotic—do patriotic readings and songs every July 4th before the picnic and fireworks
- Eat lunch every Sunday afternoon with as many family and friends as possible
- Don’t let anyone else’s flakiness reduce your faithfulness
- Eat meals with your family morning and night
- Read historic markers with your kids
- Hug people when they’re hurting
- Bring a ton of food to church potlucks
- Celebrate birthdays and holidays—make sure every child and grandchild feels loved
- Minister every day, and remember that your first ministry is to your family
- Only fight with your husband when playing Scrabble, and only when he’s winning
- Say what you think, but if you don’t get your way, go with the program. It’s not about you
- Tell your husband what you think should happen, but accept his decisions even when you don’t agree
- Enjoy every sunset
- Collect shells and pretty specks of glass at the beach with your little girl
- Contemporary songs can be pretty good, but great music lasts
- Find a shoulder to cry on, and then move ahead with a life of joy and service
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all!” Proverbs 31:28-29
Written for her memorial service:
Mom’s Illness and Passing
Mom had been feeling poorly for months – tiredness, pain in her torso. Her color wasn’t very good. Of course, she kept ministering in her family, school, and church. She had X-Rays and other tests, especially after a sort of mystery injury she suffered that caused severe pain September.\
Since Christmas time, her symptoms became more intense, her skin color wasn’t good, and there were a lot more attempts to get a diagnosis. In late January and through February, she was so anemic that she needed blood transfusions, and we all became increasingly concerned that there was something really bad going on.The doctors continued to be unsuccessful at determining the cause or causes of her illnesses.
We knew how strong and slow to complain about her pain she was, and we also felt that the doctors were dragging their feet and not taking it seriously enough. Her persistent anemia was particularly worrisome, and we talked in hushed tones about bone marrow problems and the awful word “cancer” was mentioned more frequently.
Mom continued to serve and live as fully as possible, and was worried, but not interested in discussing worst case scenarios. She went with Dad and Bill and Betty Cruver to the A.C.S.I. Administrators Conference near Monterey in mid-February, and she was the pianist and director for 3 performances of our 4th grade Patriotic Program on February 20-21.
In hindsight, we realize she was too ill to be attempting these things, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss, and God knew how much any of us needed to know at that point.As most of you know, she went into septic shock on Wednesday, February 26 and was rushed to the hospital. Her body was not releasing toxins, and she was dying from internal poisons. Her kidneys were failing. Her heart rate slowed, her blood pressure dropped very low, and she was only semi-conscious.
A call for prayer went out in our local community and across the country, and we believe that God preserved her life that night. He granted us another 8 days to shower her with love and gratitude, and to understand and accept God’s perfect plan for her and for our family.On Thursday morning, the oncologist finally had results from bone marrow tests, and he confirmed what we had been fearing—Mom had cancer and it was likely carcinoma, and it was likely widespread throughout her skeleton and now attacking her kidneys. We tried to hold on to any hope that remained for her condition to be treatable. Further tests and the progress of the disease in made it clear that she would only be with us a short time.
It was a wonderful and awful week. Long hours at the hospital with many small crises and victories. God’s gentle hand helped us through each hour. He sent many friends and extended family members to minister to Mom and to our family. We know He sent His ministering angels and His Holy Spirit to bring us comfort and understanding of His Word and ways. We grew closer to Mom, to each other, and to God.He brought her through the valley of the shadow of death of Sunday night when she was attacked with feelings of doubt and frustration. Dad and Mom started Monday morning in intense prayer and scripture reading—From that point forward, I felt that Satan’s attacks on her were of no effect. She was peaceful, amazingly free of physical pain, and focused on smiling and greeting her many visitors.
She was able to come home on Tuesday night, and we were able to love her 24 hours a day through Thursday night when she soared to be with her Lord and the Master of Music. We are thrilled to think of her restored voice, worship ministry, and ministry to children in the kingdom of Heaven.
God’s word in Zephaniah 3:17 says,“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness! He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over You with singing”
God is GOOD!
Obituary for the local paper:
Florence Gross, 67, Goes Home to Heaven A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of San Francisco on March 15 at 2:00 p.m. for Florence Eleanor Gross, who died at home on March 6 after a brief hospitalization.
Florence, a native of Colorado, came to Pacifica with her husband Joseph Gross and young sons Joseph and David in 1963 to work at Alma Heights Christian Academy, where she started the kindergarten program. During the next 40 years, she taught music to countless students from kindergarten to high school, directed school children in patriotic and religious musicals, gave piano lessons, taught World History and Church History, and helped to found Alma Heights Christian Fellowship. She also added five daughters to the Gross family: Rebecca, Rachel, Mary, Joanna and Sarah.
She was a member of Alma Heights Christian Fellowship, where she served as an ordained Deaconess, Sunday School teacher, and pianist for many years. Florence faithfully visited convalescent hospitals both in Pacifica and San Francisco, bringing music and cheer to the patients, often accompanied by her husband, children and grandchildren. Her home was always open to guests, and her hospitality was famous.
She will be missed by the many people she touched during her lifetime, whether family, school children, school parents, or fellow churchgoers. Her absence leaves a deep sense of loss. However, because Florence had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are confident that she is in heaven, face to face with God, whom she loved and served.She is survived by her husband, her seven children and their spouses, and 27 grandchildren.
Donations may be made in Florence Gross’ name to Alma Heights Christian Academy, 1295 Seville Drive, Pacifica 94044, to support the building of the new Library and Science center that will be named in her honor.
Email messages to loved ones while Mom was dying
Thursday, February 27My mom nearly died of toxic shock last night. When I got to the hospital, her blood pressure was 80/40, pulse weakening, and everything appeared to be shutting off. Extreme prayer and medical intervention during the next hours got her through the crisis. She’s in intensive care, and maybe the hospital will take her situation a little more seriously and get the tests run that she needs. We still don’t know the cause. Cancer gets mentioned a lot, but some tests seem to indicate that it could be a pulmonary embolism or a weird infection or something. Thank the Zarephath community for their prayers! My Uncle Mark’s report to my dad about the intercession there was really encouraging, and God brought mom back to us last night!My dad’s been awesome through the whole thing, but he needs your prayers, as well. Pretty exhausted in various ways. Thanks for your care and prayer.David
Friday, February 28 AMWe got what we asked for: a diagnosis. However, the diagnosis is about the worst possible. Without Divine intervention, she won’t be with us much
longer. Extensive, aggressive cancer in her bone marrow.
Thanks for your prayers. God is good whether He heals her here or there,
but it’s kind of hard for the rest of us.
Friday, February 28, PM
Greetings from Florence to all!
Mom sends her love and thanks for all your prayers on her behalf. She
wishes she could let you all know in person.
Tough night last night with increasing pain. They are adjusting her pain
medication, and our family will be doing anything we can to get her out of
ICU and into hospice care at home as soon as it is safe. Her sister,
Beatrice, has already come to see her, and all of her children and
grandchildren are close by or on their way. She doesn’t get to see
grandchildren until she’s out of ICU, so please pray that her condition
stabilizes enough for hospice care.
We are continuing to pray that if it’s possible, God would let her be with
us longer. She told her sister last night that she’s planning on “some
more years.” This is a medical impossibility, but there is a lot more to
reality than the physical aspects.
Some really great times talking, singing, and laughing together with mom
yesterday. We are so grateful that God brought her through the septic
shock crisis the other night. Every day is precious. This is another
day that God has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!
Uncle Mark’s e-mail list is the closest thing I have to a comprehensive list
of her friends around the globe. Please feel free to forward these
messages to others who will pray and care for Mom.
Love to all, David Gross
Saturday, March 1
Mom has had a pretty hard but good day. Some wonderful times together with
family and friends. We praise God that the doctor approved moving her to a room where we can be with her 24 hours a day and where her grandchildren can visit. Several are
with her right now.
She needs a lot of morphine for the pain and is a little frustrated that her
brain is not working as sharp as she’d like. God’s grace continues to be
sufficient and His power is evident thoughout.
Love from Mom,
David for Florence Gross and family
Sunday, March 2
This is another day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I must admit feeling torn writing that verse this morning. As you
know, in the past few days we have gone from feeling frustrated and worried
about my mom’s many symptoms and lack of diagnosis, to very nearly losing
her in the emergency room on Wednesday night, to finding out that a most
deadly and pervasive cancer was the cause. Since then, we have shared some
good times with her while seeing her pain grow at an alarming rate.
Wednesday night I prayed that God would somehow preserve her for us so that
loved ones could share some more time. God graciously has granted that, but
we are finding it so hard to let go even this fast. Yesterday, we pushed
the hospital to do anything to get us more access to visit with her, and we
pushed for stronger pain medication. Now she is very heavily sedated and
barely able to be with us. I want her to be with us, but I don’t want her
God, is there some way you can let us have both today?
Please pray. Mark is coming this evening, and many of the little ones
haven’t been able to see mom’s smile or hear her words of reassurance. For
them, she just disappeared this last week, and they’ve only seen her in a
strange place unable to talk with them and looking really scary.
Whenever mom was awake yesterday and last night, she continued to minister
comfort to her family. God has given her incredible courage, and she told
us of His closeness to her.
Love to all,
David, for Florence and family
Tuesday, March 4
Most of you have received previous notes or otherwise heard about my
mom, Florence Gross’ condition. She has been having pain for some time,
and in the past month she developed severe anemia and required transfusions.
She had every medical test I’ve ever heard, but her condition puzzled the doctors. By last week, she was scheduled for tests on her bone marrow.
They took marrow on Tuesday–a very painful procedure. New symptoms
were developing, some of them a lot like the flu, and we had some trips to
emergency which invariably resulted in more tests or repeats of ones
already taken. She must have had chest x-rays a half dozen times. On
Wednesday morning, her fever spiked and by lunch time, she was looking really bad.
She was rushed to emergency (again). This time, however, her condition
was very grave. She had developed septic shock–her body was not filtering
or releasing toxic things. Our extended family rushed to be at her side,
and the doctor informed us about what a critical situation it was.
A host of people were called and joined in prayer for her, and she
survived and was taken to intensive care. Thursday morning, the oncologist
informed us that the bone marrow tests showed a severe form of cancer–most
likely carcinoma, and he said that the test plus a global look at her symptoms
indicated it likely had spread throughout the large bones of her torso.
She was still struggling desperately to recover from the septic shock,
and we found later that the shock had caused a heart attack sometime
Wednesday evening or night. It’s amazing that she was still alive.
She regained a measure of strength and was moved from intensive care on
Saturday. We were thrilled, because all 25 grandchildren and her 7
children and their spouses wanted to be able to be with her. At the
same time, her pain became severe. The oncologist indicated that this was
to be expected with severe bone cancer. They gave her a lot of morphine.
Her pain abated, but now her visits with frightened little loved ones became
rather a nightmare. Many of us (and I know many of you united in
prayer that she would be relieved of the pain, but would be able continue her
ministry of love to her children and grandchildren.
GOD IS SO GOOD! He granted this request that same night. She hasn’t
needed morphine since, and she has blessed so many people who have
Monday morning she was attacked spiritually, and my dear dad spent some
wonderful hours in prayer and scripture with her. She has come out of
this valley with peace and a smile for every guest in her hospital room.
Her kidneys are failing, and she is fading. However, she continues to
come out of sleepiness recognizing her visitors and smiling at them. It’s
very difficult for her to stay awake and talk.
Our family is suffering terribly and is being blessed incredibly. I’m
sure many of you know what I mean.
Keep praying and praising. God is good, and He know He Heals us in His
way and time.
My mom would want you all to know that she thinks all the attention she
is getting is ridiculous, and she would want you all to follow Jesus all
Love to all,
Thursday, March 6
Since I wrote on Tuesday, God has helped us in many ways. Some specifics:
The oncologist said that he would be able to release mom from the hospital
for care at home by Thursday (today). We asked him to do whatever he
could to expedite her return home, and he made arrangements for Wednesday. The
hospice equipment was delivered so punctually that we called the doctor
back and asked if we could have her home Tuesday evening. He quickly made the
arrangements, and mom has been home since 7:30 on Tuesday. Now we are
able to take turns being with her throughout the day and night, and my
exhausted Dad can at least have the opportunity for some rest. Pray that God will
rest his broken heart as well as his tired body.
God has also provided some dear friends to help in a variety of ways.
Elaine Sharp and Yvonne are here with us all the way from Colorado, and a
nurse whose children were Mom’s students has given some very timely and
Hospice care is being provided, and the nurse is helping my dad with
details even as I write.
My brother’s car broke down on his long drive with 6 kids back to
Williams, CA., but God provided a mechanic and funds for repairs the next morning,
and Joe has been back with us since Wednesday morning. His deep spirituality
and ability to provide practical, loving care to Mom has been such a
blessing. My brother wants to share with all of you a verse from Lamentations 3.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions
fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord
is my portion.” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good
to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one
should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
I got up early Wednesday morning to sit with mom and looked past her bed
and out her dining room window at the early dawn sky. A very bright star
faded gradually from view as the blue of the morning hid it from my view. That
star was actually no smaller or dimmer, and my inability to see it changed
nothing about its reality.
Mommy is fading. We can’t communicate clearly with her, as her voice and
vision have been lost. We hope she senses our voices and touch, and we
are trusting that God’s ministering angels are reaching her in her places of
deepest need. We continue to rejoice that her time of severe pain was so
short, and we are so glad that she is home. We are learning to love the
thought of her soaring to her permanent Home. It’s only our inability to
see, our tendency to cling to the temporal, and the joy and love that Mom
has given us that makes it hard.
Whenever I am able to understand what is really happening, I am full of
joy at the thought of Mom getting to hear the music of God’s voice and the
restoration and perfection of her voice.
Pianos in heaven? If so, I ‘m sure they are GRAND!! Children in
heaven? Zillions of them! Mom’s going to be so happy!
Love to all,
David for Florence and family
Friday, March 7
Friday, March 7
Our dear Mother went to heaven last night just before 10 o’clock. She was
at home, surrounded by her family, and her room was filled with scriptures
and with songs of praise, encouragement, and faith throughout the day. Dad
has been extraordinarily courageous and loving to her throughout.
We will hold a memorial celebration at First Baptist Church in San Francisco
on the 15th. It is a beautiful, old, domed church that will do justice to
the music being planned, and to the music of Mom’s life. Mom’s body will
be buried in her family plot at Belleview, Colorado near the Rocky Mountains
she loved so much. There will be a service at the Belleview chapel. The
date of this service is to be determined.
She starts every day with a hymn. Her hymn for yesterday was
There is a Balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say, “He died for all.”
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Beautiful, but not so beautiful as her hymn for today, both described and
written in Revelation 7:9-12:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one
could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before
the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches
in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living
creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
The thought of my Mom singing with that multitude is too wonderful for me to
comprehend, but there is a truth about Mom’s day today that is even more
wonderful! Today she gets to hear the voice of God rejoicing over her in
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!
Love to all,
David for Florence and family