A Faithful Fight

On April 23rd, 2020 our daughter-in-law lost her almost two year battle with ovarian cancer. She fought bravely and faithfully knowing that she was always in God’s hands. Please allow me to share with you what I said at her family graveside service.

Joy Cantrell Martin
Graveside Service
May 4th, 2020

I asked Stephen if he would allow me to speak today because I never got the opportunity to sit beside Joy and have that last talk… the one where I would thank her for the life, organization, faith and adventure she brought to this family. You have been a strong magnet that, combined with the ones held by Stephen, Noah and Abby, has bonded this family together and kept everything moving in a positive upward direction.

If there ever was a family where the hand of God was clearly seen, it is this one. From the moment Joy and Stephen met on a softball field, introduced by her brother Kerry… it all began. It was plain to see they were meant for each other. Dating for a while, their engagement was sealed at Thoroughbreds in Myrtle Beach… she said yes.

Joy, I want to thank you for loving my son in such a way that his eyes would sparkle, his heart would be warmed, and his life would be made more complete. This man is a very good man… best I know… but you made him better. Together you raised a family which produced and nurtured two outstanding young people. You and Stephen encouraged and expected from them their very best in everything they did… as you did of yourselves. They learned good study habits and the importance to be on time with all their work… and offer more than was required. As a result, both Noah and Abby are at the top of their class. They take education seriously because of you. You and Stephen were always there to support Noah and Abby at every game, every match, every meet, every performance, every ceremony, and traveled with them on all the school and church trips. You were always there.

Both you and Stephen were raised in the church and, as a family, you continued your walk of faith in the church and have always been faithfully involved in its ministries. You lived out your faith before your children and taught them to walk the higher road. I know that when your children left the house every morning to go out into the world, you impressed upon them the importance of always living out the high standards set by the Cantrell and Martin families. Even more than that, you taught, expected and encouraged them to live out their faith in the world everyday… a faith that treated everyone with dignity and respect… especially those who were in need. Noah and Abby, as you now continue to walk this path, know that your mom is still with you, still loving you, still encouraging you. Do your best to make her proud of all you do and what you are becoming.

Joy, thank you for giving Shirley and me the most priceless gift you could have ever given us: you allowed us to keep these two precious babies, five days a week, from the time they were around six weeks old until they were both in high school. Those days with your wonderfully creative children gave us life. I remember when we lived in Pleasant Garden, I couldn’t wait to get home for lunch so I could get my hugs and hear the stories of what they had been doing all morning. Sometimes I would get there in time to see Noah turn a bowl of spaghetti-o’s up-side-down on his head or Abby dress in her princess gown, with Mamaw’s high heal shoes. It was a very magical time… a priceless time we could never repay.

Joy, you are the daughter we never had, and we love you dearly… we love you for the love you brought into this family. You will forever be missed. We would not be the people we are today without God allowing you to cross our path and become a vital part our family.

Joy, I’m not sure how to thank you for freezing me at the Myrtle Beach condo each summer. You would set the temperature on “Freeze the old man” and have a fan blowing on you saying it’s hot in here. I would be on the sofa, in sweats, under a blanket… still cold. Or the way you would correct my mistakes, especially when I did or said something that was beyond words – you would give me that LOOK – the one everyone knows what it means when it was our time. Or, how you would correct the way Shirley and I pronounced certain words – warsh and wrench for wash and rinse. It became a family joke. We have had a lot of good times together – times we will always cherish

Joy, your faith has never shown brighter or stronger than when it was there for all to see as you fought your battle with cancer. You never whimpered or said woe is me. You simply lifted your hands, bowed your head, gave it all to God, and proceeded to be positive in all you faced. You have no idea how much your example of faith in the face of cancer has meant to all who have witnessed your battle. I only hope that when I face my own battles, I can do it with as much courage of faith as you have. You truly have been a profile in courage.

Joy, one of the special things we will miss about you is that beautiful smile… you would light up the entire room. Shirley and I are going to have sun catchers made. We are naming them Joy’s Smile. Hang them in the window that catches the morning sun and Joy smiles all over your room in a blaze of rainbow colors… and you will smile and think to yourselves… “There is Joy’s smile”, you will know that Joy is with you, and it will make your day.

God’s blessings on you dearest Joy. May you now enjoy the fullness of God’s love in the Heavenly Country.

Grace and Peace

3 Responses

  1. Joy sounded so wonderful and full of joy like her name.
    I am so very sorry for your dear family’s loss.
    May the love of God be with you all.


  3. I loved this article. Thanks for reprinting it.

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