I don’t carry a watch, and for the most part that’s a good thing. Because to “time” life brings more frustration than benefit. That’s especially true with grief. Yesterday’s blog tried to make that point.
One of the grieving notes I didn’t think about yesterday, was certainly to think of Marilyn and our relationship. It is also, though, so very important to think of others in my [make that yours for your own mirroring] life who have died or faced death. And how they faced the challenge.
In that, and it wasn’t happenstance, I thought of Carol…who will always be an example to me of the complete life, even in the face of death. I need to share.
I began my ministry at Broadmoor Community Church, Colorado Springs, in February, 1980. My first Sunday had low attendance. The rationale was it was the Sunday morning the USA played Russia in Olympics Hockey. At least that was my excuse. Later it proved I was right. Sort of.
One of the challenges in those days, not that it’s unimportant now, was church numerical growth. The congregation had dropped attendance from over 800 to close to 400, in a short amount of time. Reasons abounded, but the numbers stared us in the eye.
The first Sunday a couple walked in, Rick and Carol. They wanted to meet the new pastor. Yes! What I liked best is they didn’t look over my shoulder…nor did I when speaking to them. They left their address and phone number and invited me to visit. Ah!
The next morning I called [always after 10 a.m. mind you!] and Carol answered. She had pretty bad laryngitis, but was still understandable. We arranged for a visit with her and Rick [their three adult girls were either in college or had graduated] the next night, Tuesday. Ah!
I scurried through my day, then had memory gridlock. At 5 p.m. I saw their name and phone number and didn’t remember I had called them that morning. Hadn’t written it down in my datebook. [From that moment on…never again to be a non-writer.] So I called again! Carol answered. Her raspy voice gave me a shudder. To myself, Why is that voice familiar? Carol bailed me out, “Oh, hi, Mark. Is there something wrong with our visit tomorrow night at 7?” I should put PHEW in the largest font.
I went ahead and admitted to her my mistake…she laughed, “Oh, trying to verify you’re human?””
For the next three years they were active in our church…never missed worship, helped wherever they could.
Then. The hammer dropped.
Carol was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, early in the year, and it was doubted she could reach Christmas. In mid-November she could hardly walk, had lost weight.
Then. Just before Thanksgiving, a family in Green Mountain Falls was wiped out of their home by a fire. The couple had three daughters. On her own, Carol made a phone call and got the information she needed.
At Thanksgiving, which they knew would be their last, their daughters gathered and said, “Mom, what can we do for you for Christmas?”
Carol answered, “I’ve got what we’ll do.”
They were puzzled but not miffed. ANYTHING for their mother.
She said, “What I want to do is go to the mall, this will be good for me…and you.”
They nodded, although their mother was never into having more because she believed giving was most important. She then showed them a piece of paper and explained about the 3 daughters who no longer had their home…and their clothes sizes.
And off they went. For Carol it was more than important to get Christmas presents for the three daughters in Green Mountain Falls.
That was her Christmas…and for Carol it was what she wanted for Christmas.
She died a month later.
I’m sad and joyful now. Joyful how much Carol reflected the worthiest manner of life and living. And sad how many people really believe there’s a luggage rack on a hearse.
Tomorrow, I will share some other’s response to death…from loving people…one whom I’ve known all my life and the other a fellow graduate from Jefferson High School in 1958, whose daughter was dating and then murdered by her daughter’s boyfriend. And how my friend has responded. Stay tuned if you will.
Grace and Shalom [peace, well-being in your soul] and Hope,