There is another name to be added to my list of people whose funerals/memorial services honestly told the story of a life well lived without having to revert to euphemisms, you know nicer words that cover up the less than lovely truth of control freak, angry, bitter, and the like to really tell the story of their life. You know what I mean, "he was a man who loved to get up early and see that the house was in order. He liked the beds made before the children left for school and he was the first to greet the children upon their return if the beds had not been made to his satisfaction..." You see control freak with anger management problems and most probably include a life lived with unrealistic expectation being placed upon his entire family. Not today. The life of Mrs. Mary Helen etched within her, servant, kind, gentle, helper, lover of people, consoler and encourager to many. A service that honored the memory and life of God's gifts to those blessed to know and love her. The tears today were mixed with sorrow of losing her presence here with us and joy, knowing she is beholding the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I feel certain that my mom greeted her along with Miss Fanny, Mr. Alexander, Mrs. Thompson and the rest of heaven.
One of my favorite things to do in Dayspring, Water's Edge and Tuesday night Bible study was to approach her as she was helping others with Beth's tapes, then CD's, and eventually DVD's. When I was certain she hadn't noticed me, I would ask, "is there anything here that doesn't involve prayer?" At first, she would look in the direction of that question, with an expression that was so sweet and concerned but yet held an element of shock. After a while, when she heard that question, she'd know it was me just saying hi. When I had surgery in 2005, she came by to see me with big boxes of pastries and cookies from Three Brothers Bakery. She made three trips to get everything in. Yahoo! She told me, I remembered you grew up with Three Brothers Bakery and thought you would like to have a few treats from them. Then she told me how to package them for freezing and we'd have treats for the six weeks I had to stay home. I loved her chocolate chip cookies. One time Roy and I went over to her house to help her with something...I can't remember what, but probably since Roy went it had to do something with taxes or math skills. My skills usually involve heavy lifting or keeping others entertained. When I was on staff at HFBC, for a time I was staff liaison for LPM Tuesday night Bible study. All that meant is, if something needed to be fixed or copies made or tasks like that, they knew who to call. Every Tuesday, I'd mosey down to the main lobby where LPM had set up book tables. After checking with them, I'd always seek out Mrs. Mary Helen and visit with her for a few minutes. It was the high light of day.
It is still difficult to attend funerals even though it has been three months since my own mother found her joy. Mrs. Mary Helen and my mom were the same age. Last night, as I was cleaning and rearranging things in our closet, I came across a bag of things that were my moms. Along with my dad, we went through costume jewelry and just all the stuff she had collected throughout the years. I brought everything home in a bag and placed it in the back of the closet. That was a couple of months ago. In the bag were some pictures from my parent's 50th anniversary and then a picture of my parents at a reception in August 2011. My mom has that distant Alzheimer's look and she isn't even looking at the camera. I hadn't looked earlier but my baby book was in that bag. It almost has the look as if it belonged to a second or third child. The entries are hit and miss but my mom had lovingly recorded gifts, cards, birthday celebrations, holidays and vital statistics. My first word was bye. That seems appropriate. I also have my parent's Bibles from the 1940's. There are no markings at all in my moms. I was hoping for something but back in the day, I don't think it was a standard to mark in one's Bible. There were however a few pencil drawings lovingly crafted by my brother on pages without too much print. There was a church covenant card in her Bible along with book marks made in Sunday School by either Doug or me. I read the card, full of truth and how we should be the church to the world and to one another. It saddened me to read it and to know how "well" her home church had treated her in the final two years of life. It is a story not to be told on a blog. In the whole saga, my mom was the true innocent in the story.
Thus, emotional tenderness increased today. It makes me tender hearted in other ways too. I am so thankful that Roy rearranged his schedule to go with me this morning. It was something I felt that I couldn't do on my own. I love hearing him pray for me, for us and all the things we encounter in life. I love that Roy is a generous man and he is a man with a plan, but sometimes I don't appreciate his plan as much as I should. Hearing Mrs. Mary Helen's story reminded me of dear friends who God has seen fit to grace my life with. I thought of their kindness, of their laughter, instructional words and the pur-dee fact, that we love getting together. There were those reminders of sacrifice, care and love. Friends who rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping. Friends who make space in their busy and active lives. Friends who save me a place in choir on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Friends who live near and those who live far away. I also reflected on how I can be kinder, gentler, and patient-er.
I always told Mrs. Mary Helen I wanted to be like her when I grew up, well except for that cooking and baking part. To have her heart and effect on others for the kingdom of God, would be mighty nice. You can't go wrong glorifying God and serving Him.