We stood with the Yee family on Saturday as they buried their mother at the bottom of a sloping hill, surrounded by enormous swaying trees. Katherine Hubner was not only Kathy’s mother, Andre’s mother-in-law, Kirsten, Stephen and Michael’s Owa—she was our friend too.
Some called her Kate, or Katherine, or Mrs. Hubner. But each one received the same tender hug and exuberant smile every time they saw this eight-two year young woman.
And young at heart she certainly was. By the graveside, Kathy shared stories of riding roller coasters at Disney World, boogie boarding at the Outer Banks, and helmet diving in Bermuda with her aged, yet fun-loving mother.
Katherine grew up in a poor family from Manhattan. Married and had three children. Divorced. It wasn’t until she was sixty-nine years of age that God shined His light into her darkness. “Hers was a simple faith,” remembered Kathy. And yet, as I heard our pastor, Mark, quietly respond, “That is all you need.”
This simple faith expressed itself in every aspect of Katherine’s life. Most clearly it was seen in her love for her family. Her son Louis remembered how hard it was to tear her away from holiday gatherings. “Enjoy your children for the years you have them,” she would encourage her daughter, Kathy—who took her mother’s advice, by the way.
When Katherine moved in with the Yee family four years ago, she brought life and exuberance to their already loving home. She played army men with the boys on the floor, complete with army noises. She talked and laughed with granddaughter Kirsten. She even entered her grandson’s Pine Car Derby. Appropriately her bright-red car was dubbed “Grandma Dynamite.”
Katherine’s love for others extended to our church family. Her pastor Dave Hinders doesn’t remember anyone more excited to become a member than Katherine Hubner. Until recently, Katherine served in our Alpha program on the kitchen crew, alongside other senior citizens and teenage boys. She loved them all. A few weeks ago, after learning of her cancer, one of these fifteen-year-old boys sent her an encouragement note—a small gesture of his appreciation for this elderly woman.
“I only wish,” she told Kathy, soon before she passed “I had more time to serve the Savior. I’m only sorry that I got started so late.”
I thought neighbor and dear friend Eric Jensen summed up Katherine’s life best. “Kate was not a coaster,” he said. “She was cresting to the very end.”
By the grace of God, may this be true of us all.
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Psalm 71:18