Belfast Telegraph

Rhoda was my right-hand... minister Creane tells of grief over death of wife (79)

By Claire McNeilly

A heartbroken minister who lost the love of his life and soul-mate has spoken of his sorrow at not being by her side when she died suddenly.

Mother-of-four Rhoda Creane (79) was suffering from cancer when she died on December 8, three-and-a-half-weeks after being admitted to hospital and on the day she was due to move into a hospice.

Rev Robert Creane said his wife had dealt with some other health issues stoically and privately prior to her death, which came unexpectedly to her family after her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Rev Creane recalled the last conversation the two of them had the evening before she passed away.

He said he felt a great sadness at not being present when she died.

"It was so sudden and so unexpected; I bid her goodbye and goodnight and we had a wee hug and said we'd see each other tomorrow," he recalled.

"Our four daughters - Esther, Eunice, Janice and Julie - were also visiting that evening and when we all left her we thought she was in good form. It was a devastating and tearful journey to Craigavon Area Hospital when we learned she had died and gone to be with Christ."

The Craigavon couple, who had been together for 52 years and eight months, spent the evening before Rhoda's death "remembering good times", and Rev Creane said "there were no signs" of what lay ahead. "It was least expected that we would have a bereavement the following morning," he explained, struggling to hold back tears.

"Not only that, she's a great, big miss. There's a big void in my life now, no question. She was my right-hand lady."

Rev Creane said her loss has also been very difficult for their daughters, twins Esther, an administrator accountant, and Eunice (51), a teacher, Janice (49), a civil servant, and 41-year-old Julie, a doctor.

And he spoke of his late wife's love for their seven grandchildren: John, Katie, Timothy, Callum, Amy, Andrew and Rosie, who are aged seven to 23.

The funeral was held on December 11 in the Creane household and conducted by Rev Lachlan Webster, minister of Craigavon Presbyterian Church, followed by a private family committal in Kernan Cemetery in Portadown.

Rev Webster described Rhoda as a "loving and caring wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother" and said she was a "gifted singer".

He said she had "a deep passion for children's missions and evangelism".

Rev Webster also referred to her as "prayer warrior" who "played an active part in a number of prayer groups including Graduates Fellowship throughout her life".

He told mourners that she was "a faithful and loving wife supporting Robert in mission and ministry upwards of over half a century".

After the interment there was a service of thanksgiving at First Portadown Presbyterian Church, conducted by Rev Robin Brown.

"Rhoda had many strengths; operating the computer, an accomplished pianist, and having attended art classes she found great pleasure in painting landscapes of which she was quite an expert," Rev Brown said.

"She was not just a busy mum keeping a family home running, Rhoda was gifted with many talents that she sought to use for the glory of God. She played an important role in many choirs, in her congregations, and in the Northern Presbytery Choir of the Covenanter Church.

"Over the years she has created many great recollections and worthy memories where the strong sense of family, faith and friendship, as someone special to look up to, conscientious, dependable, generous and reliable."

He added: "This family has enjoyed a wife and mother's love and kindness for a long time."

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