The Roushey family would like to thank you for the outpouring of support, both before and after mom’s passing. Your expressions of love and your prayers are very meaningful. Again, thank you.
Music is an interesting expression, voices and instruments combining together to communicate deep feelings and emotions. Not just to satisfy one’s hearing but the heart and soul also.
Mom loved music. She told me it was her favorite subject in high school. It was in high school that she learned to play the accordion. Mom made sure our family was surrounded by music. We could not escape it. Each of us children took instrumental music lessons in grade school. We played those instruments just long enough for our parents to switch from paying equipment rentals to purchasing them. Then we lost interest.
We didn’t just play music we sang it. Mom and Dad were in a gospel quartet, Redeeming Love, with Frank and Sylvia Hallenbeck. It was the rage back then for whole families to sing together. We are no exception. At some point in their concert my brothers and sister and I would be called up on stage to sing with our parents. We sang, “What a day that will be,” but I had little appreciation of the lyrics back then. Today, I cling to the hope found in the words of that song.
You see music was the platform from which Mom and Dad shared the gospel. When the quartet retired from singing, Mom did not quit sharing Jesus with others. She pursued other avenues like helping to plan the Genesee Ladies Retreat. She also corresponded with a prisoner and shared the gospel of Jesus with him. In one of his most recent letters he thanked Mom for sharing her understanding of Jesus with him. “It has helped me to become a better person,” He said.
When Dad died, Mom was forced to journey on alone. It took a bit of nudging but eventually I convinced her to sell her home and move into an apartment at College Greene. That’s when the Lord sent Millie Hartman to her door. Millie and Mom became best of friends. One of their favorite pastimes was joy riding in Mom’s car.
On one excursion, Mom, despite Millie’s objections, proceeded to drive her car down a paved portion of the canal path by the lift bridge in Spencerport. Mom reasoned it was an access road of some kind. Millie questioned why there were bright yellow steel posts blocking access to it. Needless-to-say, they swerved around the posts and made their way down the canal path. After a short distance the path turned to gravel and it narrowed to a point where Mom found herself driving dangerously close to the waters edge with no place to turn around. When they could safely go no further Mom got out of the car and asked for help from a puzzled onlooker. The stranger willingly got in the car with Millie and aggressively drove the car up over a steep embankment to safety. Mom always wondered where I got my rebellious streak. Now I think I know.
Millie has since passed away. Before she left us, she said something to the effect, “Pastor Wally, look after Wanda.”
Those who knew mom well knew she had trouble letting go of things that bothered her. One question she would ask me repeatedly, “Why did God take Bill (her husband) and leave me here.” Perhaps it was because God needed Wanda to lead one more soul to Jesus.
Mom had an interesting way of handling prayer requests. If someone asked her to pray for them, she often met the need immediately. It didn’t matter if she was on the phone, standing in a hallway or in a room full of people, Mom prayed on the spot out loud.
A woman named Jane also lived at College Greene. Jane didn’t know the Lord and witnessed Mom’s practice of praying in the moment. One day Jane said, “Wanda, I wished I had faith like yours.” Mom continued to shower her with love. Later, when Jane was hospitalized and it became apparent she didn’t have long to live, Mom asked Jane if she would like to receive Jesus as her Savior. Jane said yes and Mom prayed with her on the spot.
I can remember this incident vividly because Mom came racing into my driveway immediately following her visit with Jane and frantically rang my doorbell. She seemed distressed and said she needed to talk to me. Mom told me what had happened. I was confused. Jane found Jesus right? Mom was worried that maybe she hadn’t included all the right things in her prayer. I remember laughing and reassuring her that Jesus would take care of the details.
There are so many other stories I could share. So many people loved Wanda. I hear it said over and over that she was one of a kind; that there was no one else quite like Wanda. I, too, had a chance to get closer to this special lady as the end of her life drew near. “Momma,” I would tell her, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” To this she would reply, “I love you, I love you, I love you, more!” Now that she is no longer with us, I find myself wanting to be more like her. You see Mom was a vessel of God’s love.
In closing, Mom requested the song, “How Great Thou Art” be sung at her funeral. I have been listening to Carrie Underwood’s recording of this song over and over again these past few months. Today, I have a completely new perspective of this wonderful hymn; that of a victor singing it as he or she stands before the gates of heaven. I picture Mom being overwhelmed with the realization her faith that carried her though life’s trials was not a crutch or some fantasy. Jesus has, indeed, delivered her from death and has given her life everlasting.
I ask that as Carrie Underwood sings this live recording we reflect on the greatness of God. There is electricity in the air as the song is being sung much like the enthusiasm that will accompany Mom’s entrance into heaven. And the applause that follows, I think of it not for the singer, rather, for the God who created her, the Spirit who guided her and the Son of God who redeemed her for his own.
“My God, how great thou art.”