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An Extraordinary Woman – Eulogy of Janet Teichrib

October 19, 2011

Eulogy of Janet Teichrib, in Two Parts

Janet and Bill Teichrib

From the memories of her family, and excerpts from her journals.

 

Note: This is the eulogy of my mother, who passed away on October 11. Although there are names and places mentioned in this eulogy that are unfamiliar to many readers, the heart beat of her life is nevertheless evident. Furthermore, this eulogy just scratches the surface – a book could be written, for her short life was one of many notable struggles, triumphs, challenges, and opportunities. She touched many people in her 67 years. Her memorial service was held on October 15, and this eulogy was read in two parts.

 

Part 1 – Read by Jeff Doerksen

 

Janet Lorena was born in Morden, Manitoba, on June 11, 1944 to Bill and Helen Vogt.

She was the first child of five, and from infancy into her teenage years, the Vogt family pioneered in the Carrot River district of Saskatchewan. Her journals tell of joyful times and hard work, and creativity. Here’s one example from her writing,

“As a young child with 2 sisters near to me in age, I particularly remember how we loved to play paper dolls. We never had the store bought variety, but used discarded catalogues to cut out not only the dolls, but also their wardrobes and furniture.”

In the evenings she would read books like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, her mother knitted, and the family playing checkers, all under the glow of an oil lamp, for there was no electricity on their homestead. Her dad was especially pleased when she could catch a hard thrown fast-ball, and bragged to friends how she could handle the tractor and cultivate so straight. The Vogt family moved to southern Manitoba when she was in her mid-teens, and then re-located to the Ogilvie district.

On a different note, how she came to know Jesus Christ is unique. The following is from her testimony,

“We seldom attended church and as a youth I had only a very limited knowledge of the Bible. Nevertheless, my aunt asked me to teach her Sunday School class of boys. I consented and began to study the Bible. Later that summer I was asked to teach Vacation Bible School in another community. My partner was quite a bit older than I, and had already completed Bible School. We spent two weeks together and her constant witness, Bible reading and prayer time, and the studying and preparing of lessons for my class of 30, 3-7 year olds, lead me to understand what a great love God had for me.

I read in John 15:13; ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,’ and in Romans 5:8; ‘But God proves His love toward us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.’

I accepted this great love of God by confessing my sins and inviting Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Savior and Friend.

Life took on a new meaning and a new direction. One thing seemed very important and that was to continue my education so that I might better serve this Jesus whom I now loved.”

After graduating from Morden high school, she attended Teacher’s College and then took a position at the Helston School, and later taught at Riverdale Colony. It was during this time at Helston when she met, in her words, “this tall, handsome fellow.”

Years after they were married, she wrote the following.

“I realize now that the Lord especially had His hand on my life at that time. I have a husband who is all I could ever hope for or dream of. He is patient and kind, a good companion, friend, husband and father.”

But there was testing. Eight months after their wedding, Bill was seriously injured in an airplane crash at the Teichrib farm – an accident that took the life of his younger brother, Harvey. Her first year of marriage was difficult in other ways. Because Bill was helping to keep his mother’s farm operational, they moved into her house for one year. This was no picnic: It was a small house, and the fact that some of Bill’s younger siblings were still living at home made for tight quarters and little real privacy. In 1967, Bill and Janet purchased a half section on the north side of the Whitemud River and began the laborious task of establishing their life-long home.

In 1968 her first son was born, Carl. Three years later Mark entered the picture, followed by her daughter. Janet writes; “We named her Angela and she turned out to be an angel in my life.”

However, while at the hospital she had a routine chest x-ray. Two weeks after the birth of Angela, she was in Winnipeg being prepped for extensive surgery. The prognosis was Hodgkin’s Disease. All three young children had to be sent to different family members, while Bill struggled between farm work and frequent trips to Winnipeg. In the first six weeks Janet had two major surgeries; first removing much of her right lung, then the majority of her spleen. Cobalt treatments followed, then round after round of chemo as new tumors were discovered. It was a battle that lasted more than two years.

Although noted for her incredible strength of character, a fact demonstrated repeatedly through her life, this resilience was grounded in God’s many promises. Hebrews 13:5 was an example; “Be content with such things as you have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee or forsake thee.”

Janet writes; “I became assured that if God would require my life, then He would also care for and provide for my family, for He loves them more than I.”

Healed of Hodgkin’s, her life revolved around her husband and children, and the work required in a farm operation. She also began to put her teaching skills to work in a volunteer fashion; She initiated Child Evangelism classes in the elementary school, taught English to an immigrant family from Laos, and instilled in her own children many life skills.

Travel was also important. Bill, Janet, and the children saw much of western Canada and the US. It wasn’t uncommon to pull the kids out of school in advance of summer holidays and hit the road, never lingering in any one spot too long, yet taking each new encounter in stride. After the children were out of the house, her and Bill continued to travel – seeing vast swaths of our great land, and visiting 42 states. Along the way they met interesting people, tasted new flavors, and expanded horizons. She relished new experiences, and transferred some of that to her home. In fact, only a few years ago she hosted special theme meals in her house, inviting neighbors and family, and cooking up Louisiana-styled dishes they had tried while on the road. This desire for cross-cultural connections spilled over with trips to Folklorama, and shopping in the city would often include never-before-tried restaurants or going to ethnic markets.

Sometimes these experiences were stretching for Bill and the children, but it instilled a broader world perspective, and the importance of connecting with people regardless where they came from.

Her family came first, and there were concerns. Farm accidents happened, along with motorcycle wrecks and many other incidents that come with the Teichrib territory. Nevertheless, she was supportive of her family, and was always interested in every adventure – whether it was local or abroad. As she said to her children on different occasions, “You were born an original, don’t die a copy.”

She loved being part of their lives, and took delight in the fact that her relationship to each one was meaningful. She never took those bonds for granted.

I want to close this part of the Eulogy with a line of poetry Janet wrote during the trials of her Hodgkin’s Disease.

         “Rejoice!

There is a Savior,

A Father in Heaven above,

Who watches over us

And surrounds us with His love.

He takes us in His arms

And tenderly holds us there,

Gently He guides us over the path,

Leading along with special, tender, care.”

 ————-

Part 2 – Read by Michael Fehr

 

An incredible event happened on April Fool’s Day, 1978 – the birth of Janet’s fourth child, Bevan Harvey Teichrib.

When Janet found out she was expecting, the doctors informed her that because of the massive doses of radiation she had endured with her Hodgkin’s Disease, this “surprise baby” would likely be physically deformed or mentally handicapped. Instead, Bevan was a miracle – healthy and whole. And as he grew up and developed into a young man, his charismatic personality blossomed.

However, his life ended when at the age of 17, less than a mile from the family farm, the truck he was riding in dropped into the Whitemud River.

There are no words to describe the anguish that comes from losing a child; it was a tragedy that rocked the Teichrib family to their core. Yet in the midst of this trial, the hand of God was clearly seen – both in leading Janet and her family through the event, and in what happened afterward.

A person, once deceased, can never be replaced, for we are created as unique individuals. No one can fill Janet’s shoes except Janet, and no one could fill Bevan’s shoes. The blessing came, however, in that as a son was lost, another was “adopted.” Jeff Doerksen, the driver of the truck, was grafted-in as a special son, brother, and uncle – one who walked through the valley with Janet and family, and who became a member of the clan not through DNA but through bonds that go beyond flesh and blood. And when Jeff married Sharon Doell, she too was brought into the fold as a daughter.

Bevan’s death in 1995 revealed another blessing. His young friends surrounded the family with love and support – forging ties that still exist today. In fact, for a time many of these young people, even though some were already married, would gather at Janet’s house for a time of remembrance and celebration during the Christmas season. The blessings are still visible, as there are many in this room today who held Bevan close and loved Janet dearly, and counted her as a true friend.

Even before Bevan’s passing, Janet saw high potential for his generation. And this perspective carried over into her involvement with Youth For Christ. She was a strong advocate for YFC, as she believed it was vitally important to impact young lives right here, in this community, and in the surrounding area.

Janet also esteemed those who were older than her. Pastor Friesen was one example, as was her friend, Helen Fehr.  June Ferguson, Verna McLaughlin, and Yanni Dethmers also held special places in Janet’s heart.

During the 1980s, Janet entered the work force as a nurse’s aid at Third Crossing Manor. This task isn’t easy; it requires a strong constitution yet caring attitude. Janet fit this description. Over the years she spent working there, she forged strong ties with the staff. Barb Gabor was her partner, and like Barb, many other staff members became more than co-workers; they became friends, often carrying each other through difficult times. Moreover, Janet had a tight bond with two important ladies, Marlene Fehr and Val Emerson – both of whom enriched her in many ways. Far more community friends could be mentioned.

Immigrant families too played a major role in her life. Janet’s heart for immigrants stemmed in part from her experience in 1979 teaching English to Laotian refugees. It was quickly apparent to her how distressing it was for new people to be thrust into this harsh northern environment and the strangeness of our rural Canadian culture. Therefore, after her years at Third Crossing she naturally gravitated to those who came from the Philippines, Korea, and Mexico. Janet always viewed these individuals as important members of our society, to be treated with dignity and respect, and whom she could come alongside as a mentor and friend. She loved them all dearly, and truly wanted the best for them in their new country.

As important as friends were to Janet, three other relationships held top priority.

First, her love for Jesus Christ. Through her many trials and celebrations, she acknowledged the grace and mercy extended to her by the hand of God, and she bent her knee in gratitude and awe to her King and Maker, even when life didn’t make sense. She also took serious the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Janet studiously wrestled through Scripture. She loved theology, and craved deep discussions that probed and plumbed God’s Word. Not surprisingly, she has left behind binders full of organized notes on various Biblical passages and Scriptural themes – in effect creating her own theological commentary sets. She always saw the bigger picture.

Second, her love for Bill. He was the apple of her eye, and her love for him was evident and strong, year after year. In fact, they were only weeks away from celebrating their 45th anniversary. In one of her testimonies Janet wrote the following,

“I cannot ever remember asking the Lord for specific guidance to my life’s partner, but I had set myself 3 requirements for my future husband. Bill was able to meet all 3 of these guidelines and much more.”

Janet’s notebook doesn’t say what those 3 guidelines were, but it was clear that Bill was her knight in shining armor. This was evident throughout their marriage, and was demonstrated as the months, weeks, days, and hours of her earthly life came to a close.

Third, her love for her children and grandchildren. She was close to them all. Her calm yet resolute spirit comforted them and guided them. Janet also brought a measure of class and grace to her daughters and granddaughters, and had an uncanny wisdom about how boys worked and how each of her sons and grandsons’ ticked as individuals. She was a rock in the family, and will remain a legacy for as long as her children live.

In 2004, Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer. The response from the medical community was swift and effective. After the initial surgery, she consented to an experimental treatment that included chemo and targeted radiation. Here, like the time of her Hodgkin’s, she braced for the fight and bravely battled through this second round of cancer. It wasn’t easy. After the treatments her heart was weak, and she worked at bringing life back into her scarred body. However, in hindsight, it appears that the radiation from her breast cancer may have done something more.

Late this spring Janet developed an abnormal cough. Toward the end of June she was rushed to emergency; something wasn’t right. And thus began a long, dark road.

When her Hodgkin’s and breast cancer happened, the medical community had worked with a sense of urgency. This time everything went wrong, leaving the family with a growing sense of dread and extreme frustration.

Her own physician dismissed the notion of cancer. Instead, she was put on medication for an infection. Weeks later the coughing hadn’t stopped, so she was given a second round of anti-biotics. By this time August was rolling along, and during the month she had an x-ray of her chest. A shadow was visible.

Two weeks later a CT scan was done, and what had started as a shadow was now advanced. Days later she visited the doctor’s office to talk about options, and was told she had three weeks and that there was little hope.

The struggle with the medial community was frustrating. Through it all Janet was hoping for a breakthrough, and promising signs did appear, but by the time a lung specialist in Winnipeg was finally able to see her, she was already poised on the edge of her valley.

This last month was particularly difficult. There was an anxiousness to Janet as she was preparing to take her lung-capacity test, scheduled for this past Thursday.

At 9:30 on Monday morning, October 10th, Bill took Janet to the emergency room at Neepawa hospital. Even then it was hoped that, with proper rest, she would come out the next day. However, as the night progressed it was obvious she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. On Tuesday morning, at 8:38, she passed away with her family by her side.

The race was grueling, but she won the prize. In turn she left a legacy: Strength in Christ Jesus her Savior, strength in family, strength in character.

I would like to close by reading Proverbs 31:16-31.

“Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“ Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Janet Teichrib exemplified Proverbs 31.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Sherri permalink
    October 19, 2011 1:13 pm

    Beautifully written. She was an amazing woman. There is so much I didn’t know about her!

  2. October 19, 2011 3:11 pm

    What a beautiful example of a woman who loved and was loved….we could all learn from her ….♥

  3. October 19, 2011 6:02 pm

    This is an eloquent tribute to your mom. We never had the privilege of meeting this dear sister in Christ on this earth, but we will surely meet when we are side-by-side honoring, praising, glorifying our Mighty God and Savior. Wow! What a testimony…

  4. Lisa permalink
    October 19, 2011 7:13 pm

    Wow…..Carl, thank you for posting this. I wish I had had more time to get to know this amazing woman…what a legacy she has passed on to all of you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Joan van der Linde permalink
    October 19, 2011 8:52 pm

    Tears rolling down my cheeks! Thanks!

  6. Lynette Good permalink
    October 20, 2011 3:58 am

    Beautiful tribute, may it be said of me, as your mother heard a few days ago as she crossed into glory; “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

  7. Shelley Weeks permalink
    October 20, 2011 5:43 pm

    I have been thinking of you all a lot lately. I know you must miss your mother terribly. She was a Beautiful lady inside and out! I am so glad that our family got a chance to visit last May. We will all have wonderful memories of her.

  8. Claudine Nunez permalink
    October 21, 2011 2:35 am

    I saw her last sept24 at Jolene&Stephen’s wedding. She came up to me and exchange our “how are yous.” I wouldnt have guessed she was sick. Though I noticed her weight loss she was still full of life..I can still remember her kind and cheerful eyes as she was speaking to me. She touched my life too. I am grateful to have met someone like her.

  9. faye whiteman permalink
    October 21, 2011 7:54 am

    Beautiful tribute………Janet was a beautiful lady and a good friend………will cherish her in my heart forever

  10. Ron & Joan Henriksson permalink
    October 21, 2011 7:36 pm

    A beautiful portrait of a wonderful woman that we haven’t met but feel we know; a true beacon for the Lord.

  11. hannah permalink
    October 21, 2011 8:59 pm

    your mom was a strong woman. she always took the time to talk when we met in portage.little did we know she was going home so soon. everyday is a gift god gives us .what we do with the day is what allows us to become who we are.

  12. Pearl permalink
    October 22, 2011 10:24 am

    So sorry to learn of your family’s hearbreaking loss. Never again will she be afflicted by the curses of sin. No longer weary and battle-stricken, but rejoicing in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ, cherishing sweet reunions which will never end, and drinking in the unimaginable beauty of Paradise, anticipating the day when she’ll receive a body without corruption. Through Jesus Christ alone she is triumphant!

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