My husband, the Reverend, officiated my grandmother’s funeral this past Saturday. He did a wonderful job honoring her life, her family, and her faith. I wanted to share what he said:
We are here today for three reasons: to remember the life of Margaret “Peg” Graham Kincaid, to comfort those who remain, and to celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Peg was born on October 14, 1922, the only child of John William and Leta Rebecca (Primm) Graham. Peg lived a long and full life, passing away at her home at Indian Point on September 29, 2014.
Her husband, J. Kennedy Kincaid Jr., preceded her in death in 1996. Peg is survived by two daughters: Merry Ann and Nancy. Merry Ann Malcolm and her husband Roger reside in Kewanee; Nancy Martin and her husband Randy reside in Clinton; Peg also has four grandchildren Brian, Ginger, Christopher, and Lauren. Brian Malcolm and his wife Heidi live in Aurora; Ginger Newingham and her husband Chance live in Athens; Christopher Martin and his wife Madison live in Fort Myers, FL; and Lauren Martin lives in Clinton; finally, she has four great-grandchildren: Nasko, Archer, E, and Louis.
Peg was born in Springfield to a farmer and a homemaker, but grew up in the Fancy Prairie area. As a child, her family attended the Presbyterian Church in town regularly, where she was baptized as an infant. When she was old enough to begin her education, she was enrolled at Murray grade school in her neighborhood. During her younger years, seeing that she grew up in the Depression Era, Peg learned frugality. She would sometimes cut out paper dolls from magazines and play with them. She was also taught to never throw things away. Ever. And this was a practice she kept her entire life. She graduated from Petersburg Harris High School in 1940. Then, four years later, she obtained a Bachelor’s of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University.
She met her husband, whom she would later be married to for over 50 years, in the summer of 1937. Who knew that a lifelong covenant could be struck up amongst pigs at the Menard County Fair in Petersburg? Peg and Kennedy dated through high school and college. Kennedy would accompany her to sorority dances, and she would attend Ag College dances with him. At one of the “Plow Boy Proms”, Kennedy gave Peg his Acacia pin–that meant they were engaged to be engaged.
On the fourteenth day of June in 1945, wearing her mother’s wedding dress, a vow was made, a promise was given, and two became one.
From that day forward, the word “busy” would accurately represent her life. She taught music in Green Valley between college graduation and her wedding, then served many years as church organist here at Indian Point. She accompanied many local students at music contests. She was also active in Presbyterian Women and served on the Presbyterial board. She even served on the boards of the Illinois Presbyterian Home and Kemmerer Village. She was a member of this congregation for nearly 7 decades, and she was also an elder.
In addition to her church activities, she was involved with Beta Sigma Phi, Delta Omicron, and the American Association of University Women. She and Kennedy even started a program in our area to host international college students. In spite of all those interests, she showed the most passion for the heritage societies to which she belonged. She was a member of Pierre Menard Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames of America, the Daughters of the American Colonists, the Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, and the Daughters of the War of 1812. She held local, state, and national offices in these organizations. I told you she was busy. When Ginger and I moved to the area five years ago, we would frequently stop by Peg’s house to visit and keep her company. She was never home! Her social calendar was busier than ours!
Even when she started spending winters in Florida, she found ways to occupy her time. She was actively involved in service groups, Bible studies, a craft group, and the First Congregational Church of Naples.
While she may have been very active socially, her family remembers her in other ways. To them, she was simply a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a homemaker. She loved music, reading, and knitting for charity. More than that though, she treasured her family; each member knew they were valued and important.
As I sat with the family this past week, we tried to think of specific words that would accurately represent Peg. One of the first ones we came up with was faithful. Never once, in 69 years, did she ever take off her wedding ring. It was to be an unending reminder of the vow she took with Kennedy, so it remained on her finger.
Another word we thought accurately portrayed her was lady. Peg was dignified, poised and proper; she was a lady. Her grandchildren recounted instances of her applying lipstick before leaving the car. Peg had to apply the color, check herself in mirror and use a tissue to blot the lipstick. And you won’t be surprised to find out that she used the same tissue over and over and over. She was a child of the Depression Era, after all!
Additionally, we all believe that the word generous describes Peg. Not only was she giving when it came to material things, but she was also giving when it came to her faith. The fact that her grandchildren gathered around her bed and prayed for her the night before she passed is a testimony to her commitment to her heavenly father; Peg raised her daughters to know the Lord, and her daughters raised their children to know the Lord.
Finally, one other important word was independent. After Kennedy passed, she took her car to have the oil changed; she started the conversation with these words, “I know that I am an older woman, but I will not be persuaded to do anything other than have my oil changed. Thank you.”
Peg was very fond of Eleanor H. Porter’s classic story “Pollyanna” The main character is know as an extraordinary girl who saw the good in everyone and made everyone feel good about themselves; the same can be said of Peg. She will be remembered as one who, like Christ, loved and served others.
At a time like this, we need hope. And to find hope, lasting hope, the only place we can go is God’s Word.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
Paul is not condemning the process of grieving here. Paul would argue that it is natural. Here, he is saying that the way believers grieve for a loved one who was a follower of Christ should be different than the way the rest of the world grieves for a loved one; grief with hope is fundamentally different from grief without hope.
The late Evangelist Dwight L. Moody once made this statement, “One day you will hear that I am dead, but don’t you believe a word of it. For on that day I will be more alive than I ever have been.” This was true for him, and this is true for Peg.
Here, we also learn that since Jesus had the power to overcome the grave, those who have accepted Him as the Lord, Master, and Ruler of their life, have the power to do the same. In the world’s eyes, death is final, but in a Christian’s eyes, death is not final; in many ways, it’s victory. Peg has won. She’s fought the fight and finished the race. She will, one day, overcome the grave.
This passage also promises that a day is coming when Christ will return to take His followers home. That day will be glorious, it will be magnificent, and that day will be soon, so we must be ready.
These words are encouraging. They are meaningful to us as we mourn, and they are also meaningful to those who are seeking to live for Christ today.
This day, all of us can look forward to the reunion that Paul wrote about thousands of years ago, but the only way that we can participate in that reunion is if we are in Christ. God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, in His image, but they rebelled and sinned and that sin separated them and the rest of humankind from God. For that relationship to be restored and for justice to be had, punishment had to be paid. Rather than us bear that penalty, God sent His Son to show us how to live and take our place on the cross. Jesus died for us and rose from the grave, showing His power over Satan, sin and death, and He then ascended into heaven. His Words teaches that any person who acknowledges their sin, accepts Christ’s death on the cross, repents and walks in new life, will be taken to heaven to be with their Father.
We know that Peg will spend eternity with God because of her faithfulness to Jesus and His call on her life. May we be people who take hold of the Gospel, like she did, and share it with future generations.
Father, may we be unified as one at this difficult time. May we lean on you, first and foremost, but also on each other. God, we come to you today in a state of pain. From this pain, we call on you, the giver of life. You know our hearts, Father; you see our grief. Only You can give us peace and comfort; only you can dry our tears; only you can soothe our pain. We ask that you would do these things. In Jesus’ name, the source of eternal life, we ask these things. Amen.