Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Who Am I Going To Call On Sunday?" - Bernice Anderson McComish

Yesterday we laid to rest one of the best women I know.
Here is the obituary for Bernice:
Bernice McComish (nee Anderson) – The memorial service for Bernice McComish is scheduled for 11:00 am, Saturday, February 8 at Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church, 123 4th Ave S, Three Hills. Bernice Elsie McComish was born the fifth child of nine to Alfred and Elsie Anderson on July 29, 1931.  She lived on the Anderson Farm in the Lake Thelma district and attended a one-room school to grade nine.  For high school she stayed in a dorm in Castor, returning to the farm on weekends. The farm was a busy place without the modern conveniences of today so Bernice did her share of farm and house work, including milking cows, stooking, and driving her own team hauling bundles. During the years of high school and of sharing an apartment with other young ladies while working in a bank in Coronation, Bernice made friends that lasted a lifetime. At 23 years old on Feb. 19, 1954, she married a local rancher, Arden McComish, They worked together on the farm for 20 years, raising four children.  In 1974, they moved to Three Hills where their children finished their general education at Prairie High School.  Bernice lost her spouse in July, 2002.  She lived her final years at the Golden Hills Lodge and felt so blest to be surrounded by wonderful friends and staff. It was in her early twenties that Bernice realized the importance of having God in her life and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and Lord. During her years on the farm, she was very involved in her small local church.  Bernice was a devoted wife and mother who gave her time to her family, while also providing encouragement and help to extended family and friends. As she got older, her conversation turned more and more toward heaven.  On Friday evening, January 31, 2014, after a few hours in hospital, God took her home. She leaves many who will miss her greatly but also rejoice with her in the new life she is enjoying:  her sons, Wallace (Bonnie) of Stettler and Bryan (Eileen) of Erskine; her daughters, Deanna (Glenn) Odland of Singapore and Arlene of London, Ontario; three brothers, Lawrence (Edith) Anderson of Hanna; Ken (Lil) Anderson of Calgary, and Cliff (Helen) Anderson of Calgary; one sister, Edna Kary of Irricana; one brother-in-law Dave (Mary) of Three Hills; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; in-laws through marriage to Arden, numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Arden, four sisters, seven brothers-in-law and two nephews.

I got to know Bernice through my parents. Bernice and Dad had grown up in the same area; she was a year older than he and never failed to delight in that fact.
She and her husband, Arden, befriended my parents as they worked in India and helped support them financially and with their love and prayers. After Arden passed away, Bernice continued on. 
It was always a delight to have her in the TH - she would give me both a hello hug and a goodbye one. She liked her coffee black, the mug set down on the left side of her place setting, with the handle of the mug to the left, because of her poor arthritic hands. And she liked her chocolate Ovation served to her not at the time of the bill but with her last half cup of coffee. She would come to the TH with her friends; but what would make her light up were the visits with her family - she, Edna, Lynette, Dave and Mary were often together at one of our corner tables for Sunday dinner. She unfailingly made me feel that what I was doing was important and that she was grateful.
Her funeral was a tribute to a gracious, godly woman. Not only her children but her grandchildren spoke about her as the one they wanted to spend time with, the one who loved them unconditionally, the one who was always there for them.
At the funeral I sat next to my Uncle Clark, who had known her his whole life, and who said this about her: "She was always smiling. You never saw her without a smile on her face ..."
Pastor Dave Lanigan brought a very fitting word for this extraordinary woman who never pretended to be something she was not; she didn't have to because who she was was courageous, loyal, loving, happy, caring. But one part that particularly gave me pause was when he was talking about Bernice departing this world for the next. 
The word depart, he said, has several different applications. First, it was used for a ship sailing out of the harbour. We can watch that ship travel further and further away from us until it's a dot on the horizon, and then it disappears. It doesn't mean the ship has vanished; it's still sailing toward its destination, getting ready to drop anchor in another port.
Secondly, Pastor Dave said, the word depart also applied to a soldier pulling up his tent pegs and packing up his tent to move to the next destination.
Lastly, the word is evocative of oxen who have been labouring under their yoke from the start of the day, methodically ploughing field after field. Finally, as the sun starts to set the farmer approaches his team and with his own hands lifts the heavy, cumbersome frame from off his animals' shoulders.
As Pastor Dave talked about Bernice being released from her burden and care just as surely as the oxen were, my mind darted off to the words the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls" (gospel of Matthew chapter 11 verse 29). Bernice of her own volition answered that challenge - and on January 31, Jesus lifted the yoke off her faithful shoulders and said, Well done!
Toward the end of the service her son Wallace spoke, a deeply moving tribute to this mother who loved her children with every fibre of her being. He talked of how he always called her every Sunday night, not because he had to but because he knew she enjoyed that special time they had set aside. Even if he'd talked to her on Saturday, he would call her the next night. One of the things she used to love about this particular son is that he has an uncanny way of imitating singers, much to her delight - music was one of Bernice's passions.
As he closed his remarks, he said he was going to sing for her one last time - just his voice this time, singing to his beloved mother.
And the song he chose? Johnny Reid's poignant "Who Am I going To Call On Sunday?" Just a boy, longing to talk to his Mom.
Just like each one of us who've lost someone so precious to us we can't imagine quite how life can go on without our beloved one. We would never wish them back to this world of care and pain and suffering; but oh, how we'd love to hear their voice one more time ...


  1. Thank you for this tribute- she was kind and hospitable.... A beautiful person

  2. What I remember most about Bernice is the time I was outside the TeaHouse, sweeping the snow from the steps in front -- so that Bernice and the other ladies would have an easier time getting out. Bernice was inside having a swell time: when I was bent over in front of her vehicle, Bernice hit the horn via her remote starter. I never saw her laugh harder!

    1. Melody Anderson MitchellFebruary 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      That is too funny! Sounds just like my Aunt Bernice. Loved her sense of humour. We will miss her.

  3. That song was soooo sad! . She was such a special friendly lady.

  4. Bernice gave me a home away from home, without question or hesitation. Much love!

  5. What a lovely tribute, and the song.... a real tear jerker but wonderful!

  6. Thanks for the great last memory of Aunt Bernice was supper at the Tea House a couple of weeks ago. She always loved coming there


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