Florence Gail Sanders: 1939—2012

I received some heartbreaking news from the States on December 29th, 2012. My mother passed away suddenly after a brief hospitalization.

I’ve decided to write some of what I shared when I spoke at her funeral on January 5th, 2013:

The Hide-and-Seek Incident

One of Mom’s favorite stories is also one of my most vivid childhood memories. I was a typical little boy (probably four or five years old) who decided to play hide-and-seek with Mom. There was just one little problem: I didn’t tell her about my mischievous game. I went back to our laundry room, hid myself under a sheet, and waited for her to start searching.

It didn’t take Mom long to notice I was missing. She called for me, but I didn’t answer. She started looking in the house before searching in the front and back yard. Mom became increasingly anxious with each passing moment and began calling the neighbors. I remained silent—I guess I was proud of myself for finding such an ideal hiding place.

She eventually found me, and I’m sure I got a good spanking.  I’m equally sure it was less severe than what I really deserved—Mom told me she was so relieved to find me that she had a hard time disciplining me.

Mom made sure to mention this story to my wife during one of their first conversations.

Sunday Mornings

Corporate worship has been a part of my family’s routine for as long as I can remember—Mom and Dad made this a top priority. I wish I could tell you that I was always eager to attend, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was the 70’s, and everyone was expected to wear his or her “Sunday best.” There was another fashion-related issue of that decade: formal wear usually meant polyester. I did not like dressing up for church—I called the uncomfortable Sunday attire “new clothes.” “Mom,” I whined, “do I have to wear those new clothes again?”

There was something else I didn’t like about Sunday mornings: it seemed to be one of the designated ear-cleaning days. Mom would put my head in her lap and clean my ears with a Q-tip (cotton bud). I’m sure she was gentle, but I would squirm and protest as though she was torturing me.

Week after week, Mom patiently coerced me into getting ready for Sunday school and worship. She didn’t know I would become a pastor/missionary some day. She just wanted to make sure her son knew about Jesus.


Mom was not exactly fortunate when it came to health issues. Most of her problems began to manifest themselves in the 80’s (that was an especially difficult decade for her). I have memories of the surgeries, hospitalizations, and doctor visits she endured over the years.

But I remember something else just as clearly: Mom’s attitude through these trials. I never sensed a hint of bitterness or anger towards God. Mom had a relentless will to live and serve her family. Her enthusiasm for life never waned over the years, even as aging took an additional toll on her health.

These are just a few of the memories that have come to mind as I celebrate the life of Florence Gail Sanders, my mom.  I could not have asked for a better mother.

“There are those whose lives affect all others around them. Quietly touching one heart, who in turn, touches another. Reaching out to ends further than they would ever know. ”
– William Bradfield

I have written an additional post to share more of what I said at the funeral–truths from the Scriptures that spoke to me during this sad time.

Mom with Evan, her youngest grandson (2008)