November 24, 2012, a lady I knew reached into her “jar of marbles” for one last time. She likely didn’t realize that this day was her last, for, after a lingering illness, she had passed into a coma 36 hours before. On Thanksgiving morning she returned home from the hospital and saw a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from her front porch. By lunch she had lost consciousness.
At her funeral, I noticed the hundreds of people who attended and their river of tears. One person expressed his grief with a picture: “I feel like a pillar has been knocked out of my life.”
As the minister spoke about her life, her humor and the twinkle in her eye, he listed a few examples of her service in God’s kingdom. As he neared the end, I realized that she had “preached” her own funeral one marble at a time.
She had been a faithful wife to her husband of 44 years and sacrificed much to live a simple life to provide a rock-solid education for her children at Christian school. Her efforts were recognized when all three were selected as the valedictorians of their senior class.
Hundreds of poor people, particularly in Appalachia, had received a warm blanket at Christmas because of her efforts. For years she had lived out her faith practically per the verse “As much as you’ve done if for the least of these, you’ve done it for Me (i.e., Jesus).”
Through the years, thousands had been blessed by her God-given talent playing the piano and making music that touched the soul. She fostered in her children a love for music with piano and voice lessons that provided a foundation for them to serve other congregations around the world.
She invested herself in the next generation teaching a teenage Sunday School class for years and either leading or assisting with Vacation Bible School (VBS) for decades. For VBS, she developed many puppet skits for children to learn biblical truths.
At several churches, she wrote and directed numerous plays for Christmas and Easter programs which told the Good News. She directed at least a dozen weddings and gave of herself and her time to make the best wedding possible for each couple.
She bravely faced cancer in 2009-2010 and fought that battle and won.
At her funeral, I watched her eight living grandchildren mourn this loving lady. “I feel like I have a hole in my heart now without ‘Grammie Boo’,” one of her grandchildren lamented. I wondered if, now in Heaven, she had met the four unborn grandchildren she never got to hold in her arms on earth.
Fortunately I was blessed to be able to see her lucid and alert on my birthday – an incredible gift as it was the last time I saw her alive. Who was this lady? My mother – Myrtle Jane.
The front porch of my childhood home looked so empty when we last visited. She wasn’t there looking at “her mountains” awaiting our safe arrival. How I miss my #1 cheerleader since birth!