Today, I went to Atlanta by way of Charlotte, NC.  A dear friend died a few weeks ago.  For 20 years, my friend had said, “Linda is going to do my funeral.”  In her final letter to me last year, she reminded me that I had promised to do the service.  When her daughter wrote to me via Facebook, she asked if I could do the service.

Things didn’t work out for me to make the trip.  However, when the daughter expressed regret, I told her that I was coming to be with her and her family.  It may seem extravagant.  Yet, my friend sent cookies to my children when they were in college.  She sent my grandchildren gifts when they were born.  I owned her a debt of gratitude and love.  My husband agreed.

When I first met Phyllis, everyone–young and old–called her Mama.  I resisted out of my respect for my own mother.  Nevertheless, I succumbed because everyone called her Mama.  For about five years, I didn’t know her name.

I’ve always been grateful that my journey in life paralleled  Mama’s.  She was a full-time volunteer in the elementary school where my children attended.  Mama did vast musical productions involving hundred’s of children.  When I first met her, I thought she was a kook.  Within days, her tenacity and genius won me over when I saw her making exquisite oriental wigs for about 50 children out of paper tape, black yarn and broken cheap jewelry.  I saw her put her own comforts and money aside in order to give elementary-aged children the opportunity to gain the self-confidence and grace that comes from being on stage.

I pray that there are people within the mentally challenged community who are grateful that our lives’ journeys have moved in a parallel path.  While they have taught me so much about the Christian live, I’ve desired to be Christ’s vehicle for evangelism and discipleship.  At times, it isn’t in the sermons that we preach; but the lives that we live exhibit  the most lasting and effective model of what Jesus can do through a person fully desiring to serve him.

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