Yesterday was a day of rejoicing and praise, but not because I had reached my sixty-seventh birthday. Rather, it was precipitated by the home going of a truly gracious southern lady, my Aunt Corene Irby. She was my Aunt in every respect except blood. My Dad, raised as a brother to her husband Ralph after the death of his birth mother when he was less than two months old, was every bit the youngest of three brothers raised by Silas and Leila Martin Irby. Aunt Corene was always an aunt to me and my sisters.
Yesterday her son, Terry, preached her home going service and his portrayal of her as a Proverbs 31 woman was absolutely accurate. Aunt Corene, the perfect complement to her husband, worked in the cotton mill at Stonewall while raising her family and keep her home. Her home duties of preparing clothing, feeding livestock, putting up canned goods, preparing meals, and teaching her children God’s ways never prevented her from attending services at Rolling Creek Baptist Church where she and Uncle Ralph were stalwarts until his death.
Meal times found the table filled with scrumptious vegetables, meat, and iced tea. Many is the time, my Dad and I partook of that table as we visited with them. In later years, as I helped Uncle Ralph with chores around the farm, I was expected to join them at the table. Visiting preachers always took multiple meals with them, and over the years they entertained former pastors continually. Yet, Aunt Corene always managed to work, keep her house, do her chores, raise her family, and be faithful to serving Christ through her church.
Gracious, kind, hospitable, strong, sacrificial, hard working, and Christlike, she epitomized the southern gentle woman. I fear that breed is passing from the scene with alarming rapidity in this era marked by women who, even though they are blessed with time and labor saving devices, seem unwilling to stretch themselves in order to do what it takes. Today’s women most often immerse themselves in family, vocation, home, or church without the understanding that each should and can complement the other.
Aunt Corene understood that service to Christ through her church was vital for her effectively fulfill her other responsibilities. She knew that her faithfulness to Christ and His Church, brought His strength and His personal involvement in everything else, and she was far too smart to think that she could faithfully discharge those obligations without His personal touch.
There remain a few who continue to believe and live as Aunt Corene lived and believed, but their number continues to fall. Yesterday, we laid to rest the ninety-six year old remains of a GENUINE SOUTHERN LADY, but she was already in Glory rejoicing with Uncle Ralph around the throne of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to experience this lady in my life.
© 2013 Mike Rasberry