A TRIBUTE TO BERTHA ETHEL SINCLAIR AUSTIN
BORN DECEMBER 7, 1885 DIED MAY 28, 1983
Harry Lauder once said, "I could tell where the lamplighter was by the trail he left behind him." I remember, as a small boy, visiting with Mother in Paola, Kansas, and being allowed to follow the Lamplighter from streetlight to streetlight along the area in front of Grandmother's house. The thrill of seeing him strike a spark with his flint to light a ball of twine on a small rod and hold the flaming twine to the mantle in the lamp while he opened a gas valve on the pole. The looks of wonder on the faces of the children as they watched the old man close the lamp. The sparkle in their eyes from the reflection of the light, innocent curiosity holding them spellbound. Something wonderful was happening, for as dusk turned to darkness, the darkness was pushed back by a trail of light.
You could tell where this woman, born December 7, 1885, to Minerva Potts and Abner Sinclair, has been by the trail she left. A trail of friends and happiness, of encouragement offered to any who needed it.
Her pride in the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren was a big part of her life. After all, her life indirectly touched the lives of people around the world. With a daughter whose art work has won acclaim in several countries; a son whose work with the World Church has won acclaim in countries around the world; a son whose work with Social Services was known throughout several states; and a son who was an Associate Member of an Architectural firm that has been honored in many parts of the World; Grandchildren scattered throughout the world that are teachers, preachers, engineers and professions too numerous to mention; the accomplishments of each was a source of pride to her. Her achievement in life was leaving the world a little better than she found it.
She lived 97 years, six months and fourteen days. Henry Van Dyke once said, "I shall grow old, but never lose life's zest, because the road's last turn will be the best." She had that zest for life, youthful enthusiasm went Into the hobbles and work she undertook. Work was a pleasure for her, especially when It gave her a chance to meet new people she could like. Even when we were little and times were tough, she supplemented our food with the many items she grew in the gardens. She prepared for winter by canning fruits, jellies, and vegetables and drying what could be preserved In that manner such as corn, pumpkin, peaches, apples and apricots.
She was a strong-willed woman that could face the hardships of life without giving up. When I had Typhoid Fever so bad that Doctor Land told her I could never be normal and it would be better if I died, and Mrs. Archibald came over each day to offer to bathe and prepare me for burial, she would not give up. When the fever finally broke and she found out I was a dummy unable to speak and might never talk again, as well as being bedridden and might never talk again, she still did not give up. The year I was out of school learning to walk with Dee who was a baby then learning to walk by pushing a chair around, she decided to paper the house. She kept me busy pasting the paper. I had to crawl or roll on the floor to get from one piece to another. Perhaps it was to keep me busy and interested, but whatever the reason, I gained strength and by the time Dee learned, to walk, I had learned to walk. Talking did not come as easily. It took most of a year before I was able to say my first word. She was using a button hook to button her high kid boots when I called "Mother!" She dropped the hook and came running, laughing and crying at the same time. For the first time in nearly a year I had been able to form words. You know the rest, I went to school the next year, and I haven't stopped talking since.
The four children of Bertha Ethel Sinclair Austin are very fortunate to have had her for a mother. She endowed them with health, filled them with ambition and encouraged their dreams.
While we are gathered here today to place her remains with those of our father, Otis Franklin Austin, her husband for sixty-one years and six months, who preceded her in death by 17 years, we are only placing the remains of a body she has shared for 97 years and six months of time on loan from a Power we may not fully understand. However, the life that shared these remains has embarked on a new journey to join many of the friends that have gone before. We know that sooner or later each of us must step through the veil that separates her from us and embark on the same journey. We know the time allotted each of us may vary. We know not how long or short it may be, but whatever our portion, we must use it wisely.
Life has no beginning and no end and where we grab the circle, we are always in sight of birth, death, age and everlasting life. We shall feel her cool touch in the evening breeze. We shall know her presence when we see beautiful house plants or a baby's smile. The happy call of a singing bird will let you know she is free of suffering or pain and happy with her part of a continued journey in the Circle of Life.
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008