Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tribute to Marie

Marie never wanted to be the center of attention. Even in the last days when her right hand would not work and she needed help to do basic tasks, she was struggling to figure out ways to get the attention off of her and on to others. But today, we, her family and friends need to mourn our loss, so we will for a short time focus on Marie and her life.

This worship service was planned to be how Marie would have wanted it. First and foremost, Marie loved to worship our God, so today we will join her in worshipping the Triune God. Marie’s life was all about worship. She loved to play and sing old hymns and every morning when I woke up, I would see her lying in bed next to me reading her Bible or in prayer. I don’t know everyone or everything she prayed for but I do know that often she was praying for me and for her children.

Marie’s Early Years

Marie was born in Stuart, Florida on December 26, 1958 to Don and Rose Gore. Marie was the second of three daughters. Her sister Karen was the oldest and Suzanne was the youngest. She loved her sisters very much.

Marie was an excellent student and I have her report cards to prove it. They were all in her scrapbooks. Marie was so well organized. Many of you are in her scrapbooks as she documented her life.

In third grade, she won the county public school Tetherball championship an accomplishment that she was proud of and boasted about to us, often.

At an early age, she learned the joys of making schedules. When Suzanne started school, Marie was afraid that Rose wouldn’t know what to do with all her time. So, Marie made her a schedule. This was something she would do for the rest of her life.

Marie was active is Brownies and Girl Scouts with her mother and friends. Girl Scout became an important part of her life and she treasured that time. Music was also an important part of her life. She learned piano and sang in the chorus at school.


After graduating from Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach, Marie spent a year in Holland as an exchange student. She stayed with two different Dutch families and she came to love them and they came to love her. She also learned to speak Dutch and traveled over most of Europe as a young woman.


When she got back to the States, Marie spent two years studying at Palm Beach Junior College before transferring to Florida State University. At first, she thought she would get a business degree but later she switched to Computer Science and Music.

That’s where I come in.

For me it was love at first sight. To Marie, I was her friend. She had her life all planned out down to the minute. She didn’t just make schedules for her Mom she lived her whole life by schedules. Marie was serious about her school work and she was learning to play the pipe organ, which took much practice. And I – I was a major distraction to her because I just wanted to be with her. Studying could wait – practice could wait. I would rather sit on the lawn and talk or ride our bikes - anything that would keep us together including going to church. God used Marie to call me back to Him.


After graduating from FSU, Marie got a job offer from the National Security Agency. She went to Maryland with her roommate and friend, Susan. I did not have a job and I followed her up there. My cousin Maria was attending American University in Washington, DC and she let me stay with her while I looked for a job. After a few week and a couple hundred resumes, I had a job and I moved into the same apartment complex with Drew who was Susan’s boyfriend from FSU. Drew had also come up to find work.


In 1983, Marie and I got married. As she walked down the aisle with her Dad, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever or would ever see. I was wrong - each year she became more and more beautiful.

Marie and I never argued about money. Her father had taught her well. I remember one time; Marie called me at work to ask if we could afford a $30 lamp. In 1985, we bought a townhouse just outside of Columbia, Maryland. They wanted $85 thousand for it. As we talked about buying it - Marie cried. I told her to trust me and that we could afford it and so we bought it.

We struggled to have children at first but then came Leah and 17 months later Stefan. Marie quit NSA before Leah was born and spent the rest of her life being a faithful wife and mother. We attended Columbia Presbyterian Church and made great friends but our families were back here in Florida and we wanted our children to know their wonderful grandparents so back to Florida we came.

Back to Florida

I was hired by Harris Corporation and we attended here at Covenant Presbyterian Church until they planted Northside Presbyterian Church in Melbourne. At Northside, Marie played the piano during our worship and served those who had needs. Her ministry was unassuming. She never led any large ministry but she was there for people who needed a friend and did the simple things that often get overlooked like cleaning someone’s house or visiting a friend that can’t get out. She would take our daughters along with her and in this way she showed them how to be godly women.

We had another child Tara and then we adopted Tomas when he was 7 months old.

Marie homeschooled all her children and did a fabulous job. She learned what she didn’t already know and of course they each had their own schedules with chores and school assignments.

I was never the husband I should have been but Marie always forgave me and she loved me.

The Brain Tumor

During the summer of 1999, Marie had a seizure while on a Mission Trip to Miami, Florida. She was taken to Mercy Hospital and given a battery of tests. The MRI indicated evidence of a tumor. The doctors recommended a wait-and-see approach. MRIs were done every 6-12 months.

In 2001, the MRI indicated some growth and Dr. Tamargo from Johns Hopkins recommended a biopsy of the lesion. The night before the biopsy, I was sick from fear but Marie showed no fear as we spent the evening walking around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The biopsy indicated she had an inoperable, low grade astrocytoma lesion. Again the doctors recommended a wait-and-see approach.

Marie’s Last Year

During her last year, Marie was able to do what she always loved to do - travel. All this was done before we knew that it would be her last year.

Marie and her Mom took Leah and Tara to Holland to see Marie’s ailing Dutch mother, Mrs. Branderhorst. It was a special time for them. The week after Marie and kids got back Mrs. Branderhorst went to be with the Lord.
Next, we went to South Carolina for the Fernandez family reunion followed by a trip to Jackson, Mississippi to visit Belhaven College and her best friend from college, Andrea. It must have been close to 20 years since they had seen each other but seeing them together again it was as if they were still back in college. On that trip, we also visited our friends the Martins in Monroe, Louisiana and worshipped at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Next, we went to Idaho and visited with our friends the Hills, we attended a history conference and worshipped at Christ Church. Marie had been blessed so much by the teaching of Pastors Wilkins and Wilson and rejoiced in being able to worship with their churches.

Over Christmas, Marie’s parents took their daughters and families to Breckenridge, Colorado for a family reunion and ski trip. It was a sweet time together.

Our last trip was to Houston to see if God would heal her. There God blessed us with new friends some who were also battling cancer. We worshipped at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and again Marie rejoiced.

Marie’s Battle with Brain Cancer

Marie’s last battle with cancer started last Thanksgiving weekend. Marie suffered two seizures. Her seizure medication was raised and an MRI was scheduled. This MRI indicated growth and some enhancement. The doctors recommended radiation. Marie and I knew the prognosis was not good and that the radiation would only buy us a matter of months. We also knew if God wanted her to be healed she would be. Many people were praying and fasting for her during this time. So we decided to try an experimental drug therapy in hopes that God would use it to cure her. We spent 2 weeks in Houston and 2 weeks back home but time ran out and Marie past away last Monday at home.

Through it all Marie showed great strength and courage. Each day was special to us and our love for each other grew. I also started being the man that God always intended me to be and so Marie saw one of her prayers answered.

To Marie’s Children

Leah, Stefan, Tara and Tomas – Your mother loved you with all that was in her. She prayed for you constantly. She celebrated your victories and cried with your defeats. She wanted so much for you to love and follow the True and Faithful God. She rested on His promises. In Deuteronomy, God tells us

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Children - know this – God did not forsake your mother and he will not forsake you. She is now in His presence worshipping her Lord and Savior as she was created to do.

Your mother would want be to tell you to be strong and courageous, obey God’s law and serve the Lord, for he is our God and Savior.

My Charge to Her Daughters

Leah, Tara – You have been blessed with a godly mother. You’ve known her all your lives. She poured her heart and soul into who you are. So my charge to you is to do likewise and when in doubt on what to do with your own family – think - what would Mom do? Girls be strong and courageous.

My Charge to Her Sons

Stefan, Tomas – You too were blessed with a wonderful, loving mother. When you leave this family to start your own – look for a wife like your mother and you we will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine. So my charge to you is to honor your mother by treating all young women with the dignity due then as daughters of the King of Kings.

Last Monday, I found some love letters I had written your Mom before we were married. She kept them by her bed. So boys when you marry don’t do as I did rather continue to write your wives love letters. Boys be strong and courageous.

Thank You to Marie’s Parents

Don, Rose – I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for Marie. She was your daughter first and a beautiful child of God when I met her. Every year I knew her she grew more and more beautiful. She loved you so much. Thank you.

To Marie

To Marie - In our 25 years together, you showed me glimpses of your soul and it was beautiful. I love you so much. - I miss you. - But I will not despair. I will continue the work we started in raising our children and I will hold on to our God for He is good and merciful.

Thank You to Our Family and Friends

Friends and family, two nights ago I woke up in despair and as I knelt down in prayer God told me that Psalm 116 was not only for Marie’s comfort but also for my comfort and encouragement. I want to thank you for all the kindness you’ve shown us. Know that Marie loved you and hold on to those sweet memories you have of her.