Eulogy for Marcene Buchs
October 06, 2018
by Pastor John Partridge
My family and I moved to Alliance during the last week of June. And so, on Thursday of this week, when Mike and Amy asked me if I had even had a chance to meet Marcene, I honestly wasn’t sure. Until I stared working on my remarks for today and pulled up her obituary and saw her photograph. But then I knew. I knew that I had met Marcene but hadn’t yet had the chance to get to know her. But many others did. At church, Marcene was known to be a sweet lady who was always well put together. She was always dressed fashionably, not to in any way act as if she was better than anyone else, but simply because being impeccably dressed was important to her. She had flair. People noticed when Marcene entered a room. She was known, always, to be a classy lady as well as a person of deep and personal faith.
Marcene Buchs grew up taking care of her dad. And when she had done that then it was time to take care of her mom, and then it was her Aunt Ellen. She was a caregiver. It wasn’t a life that she chose, but she accepted it as her responsibility. She grew up in Beechwood in a family of farmers. But she came to Christ United Methodist Church more than 60 years ago when her family moved to Alliance while she was in the fifth grade. She was both faithful and dedicated to our church and was sure to attend every week for as long as she was able.
Over the years, she worked as a secretary and kept the bills paid. She didn’t have a fairy tale life by any stretch of the imagination, but she was known for her strength of character, she always took the high road, did things the “right way,” and always did everything well and with excellence. Although she never felt sorry for herself, sometimes the events and the circumstances of her life led her to feel insecure. She lived in a small town, and she knew what people said about her, but that, and despite her insecurity, she refused to retreat, and forced herself to participate in the community.
Marcene was always “super-devoted” to her family and to her grandchildren. She didn’t just care about what they did, she devoted herself to exploring, learning, and doing her very best to understand what they did whether it was sports, or music, or quilting, publishing, or rocket science. Marcene was a reader, and she had always read everything. But whenever she knew what her family or friends were interested in, she read about that too. Although she didn’t have a CD player in her home, she did have one in her car. And so, in order to listen to her grandson Chase’s CD’s, she would get in her car and drive around town so that she could listen to them. As Mike and Amy went through her things, they discovered that Marcene had kept detailed records of her life and of her family’s life. Events and projects that they had long forgotten, were carefully recorded and kept in her albums and notebooks.
Marcene Buchs was a minimalist who loved order. She owned a small number of outfits and when she bought a new one, an old one had to go. Nothing in her home was out of place. She appreciated order and she paid great attention to every detail. But Marcene’s insistence on perfection only applied to herself. She was forgiving of others and understood that they were different than she was.
Perhaps the most obvious example of who Marcene was, is found in her son Mike. As the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” And Mike didn’t become the caring, considerate, intelligent, driven, and loving person that he is by accident. He is a living example of Marcene’s influence on his life and a reflection of who she was.
Much of her life was devoted to caring for others and while was greatly loved by others, she loved them all right back. But, as I noted earlier, Marcene’s faith was important to her. She made sure that Mike grew up in the church and passed her faith on to him. And when her grandchildren arrived, she invested herself in them so that they could learn it as well. As I talked to Mike and Amy, we knew that Marcene would not want this moment to pass without sharing her faith with you as well. Marcene Buchs put her full faith and trust in Jesus Christ as her savior. She believed that Jesus died for her sins so that she could, at this very moment, stand before God, forgiven, redeemed, and perfect. We know where Marcene will spend her eternity, and she wants every one of you to join her there when your day comes. If you don’t know how to do that, Marcene’s family and I urge you to talk to one of us afterward.
But of all of us, Mike knew her best of all. And so, although he knew that he wouldn’t be able to stand up here today and share his thoughts, these are his words:
A Son’s Reflections
by Michael Robert Johanson
We are gathered here together to honor and celebrate the life of my mother, Marcene Buchs. My mother was a throwback and maintained the sensibilities of another time always attempting to do the right thing optimistically even when it was not popular or easy. She was not deceived by the complexities in this world and was firmly rooted in the simplicities that are the foundation of our being. That is her message to us. She would have loved the flowers in the room today and would remind us all to enjoy the sight and scent. She would not want any of us to mourn today rather to channel the spirit she has put in all of us to live up to our potential, do the right things, listen, encourage, pick each other up when we fall have hope, faith and leave a positive mark on this world.
I have spent much time this week thinking of what should be said, attempting to properly honor my mom’s memory or even partially convey the wonderful life my family and I were lucky enough to share with her. Should I list all of her accomplishments which were many? She was capable far beyond what we all saw – she had a mighty inner strength. Should I tell stories from the farm in Beachwood? Those would be funny particularly the “hammer story” (though probably still not funny to her brother my uncle Bob). Her happiness, optimism and vision of the future during her youth – she always did her very best? The energy and pride she always exemplified in the workforce? But all of this can be read in the newspaper this week. What isn’t there is her devotion and love for her family. Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brother and his family, taking care of her mother, father, and her son who were always steadfastly by her side and her by them. I came along not under ideal circumstances, but you would have never known it. Her devotion and love made my life ideal.
If she were planning today’s service she would be playing videos in the hall of rockets launching things I’ve built into space. A spread of magazines that Amy had created that highlighted her handiwork that she was so overjoyed to see on a newsstand. She would play highlight reels of her grandson Noah throwing a football. She often went on long drives to listen to songs on the CD player of her grandson Chase that always lift her up and “made the sunshine come out”. Those songs were played today prior to this service per her request and they meant the world to her. She was very proud of all of Chase’s accomplishments. She would showcase her “superhero” grandson Ellis’s many activities, performances, beautiful voice and intellect and also remark how she was able to get a little piece of her own son back through him. She would spent endless hours studying and learning about all our interests and made them her own. And while none of this would be about her. In her mind it was all about her, and it is.
I found a folder this week in her important papers titled Emotional Serenade. In this folder of poems and writings I got a chance to get inside my mom’s spirit in ways I had not seen before. In her writings I think she described who she was far better than I ever could in the following poem:
THE CATALPA TREES ARE BLOOMING ON HAINES AVENUE
The Catalpas are blooming on Haines Avenue;
their snow-like blossoms are fresh and white and new.
They crown the branches of the stately trees
and cover the ground with a summer freeze.
In time, long green beans will appear,
hanging amidst the elephantine leaves part of the year.
This makes Haines different from Wright, Union or Summit,
indeed it is the very best part of it!
The red bricked street of a yesterday,
scene of a childhood summer of play.
I was fresh from the farm and an isolated life
thrust on a sidewalk of kids amidst workman and buses,
backyard cherry trees – neat houses and gardens,
flower bedecked porches, new shoes bought on an
afternoon trip downtown, birthday parties on the lawn,
bank tellers, clothiers, teachers, mailmen, executives
and retirees – a grocery store that smelled so right
with licorice cigars and other delights…
everything so lazy and forever. Now all gone mainly
BUT THE TREES
I had always known the infinite variety of trees;
all the magical appendages moving in the breeze;
their sudden brilliant hues burning even after the fade;
their wealth worth more than could ever be paid.
Yet I was amazed at the leaves on a hunt for my son
and ran around saying, in effect, “Here’s one, here’s one!”
Then it was the Ginkgo that mesmerized me,
but the Catalpas are a gift by the powers that be
and are for the moment what’s happening on Haines.
They come to me, and the thrill never wanes.
My mother was always my unexpected messenger encouraging me (and all of us) to accomplish the impossible and she led by example in ways that I didn’t always understand or comprehend. But eventually, I would always understand completely. While her life didn’t always meet the expectations she perhaps had for herself, she made the best of every moment and worked tirelessly to make sure those around her had the best opportunities, were the best prepared, and when we needed a boost, she was there to lift us up. Though 620 Wright Ave was just a small dot on big planet she always encouraged me to be OPEN and ready to take on the world. She taught me that if I opened up my mind I could be and do anything. If I opened up my dreams the impossible became possible. If I opened up my heart I would always be surrounded by the very best people. If I opened up my eyes the path forward would always be clear. And if I opened my arms she would and will always be there.
In her notes this week she left me a final piece of advice in her Emotional Serenade folder. I’m not sure she wrote it but she typed it and put in a place so I would see it first. I think is a continuing message for all of us:
“People tend to look in each other’s wallets instead of each other’s eyes. You can’t buy a look into someone’s heart. Or a loving look. Or a smile. The retention of important memories is a gift beyond price. Memory is where the proof of life is stored. Unobstructed access to memories is both a sign of good health and a measure of true wealth. Money can’t buy health and money can’t buy hope.”
I am thankful for the time that we have had on this Earth together, and her passing reminds me to value the time we all have with our loved ones. To allow our ‘time’ on this planet to walk with us rather than be our adversary and to cherish every moment, because they will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived, and I know how much my mother loved this life and those of you who shared it with her. So those of us who knew her will understand when I say that her passing to me is truly only that state in which she exists within all of us whose lives she has touched, which is why today is not about an end. I know she lives on within me and my children and that too shall pass to my children’s children. No good-byes mom, just wonderful memories. You will walk with me always. I will see you again.
-Michael Robert Johanson