Dear Hubby told me this morning that someone we knew had died...he'd heard the news at church last nite. She was a lovely woman named Betty, the mother of a very dear friend of ours, and someone we'd known for over 30 years. She'd been in frail health the past few years with heart ailments and had suffered several small strokes. She could still sing along with hymn books but to try to make conversation was difficult for her. The mental wiring between her thoughts and being able to verbalize them had gotten short-circuited. And yet her warmth and love and concern would radiate out of her. Words were the least of her worries. Her sweetness and joy spoke volumes.
Because she'd been literally housebound the past few years her church attendance was sporadic at best. It took quite a bit of effort for family members to get her ready, to get her in to the car, and then navigate her wheelchair around the crowded church. Dear Hubby would talk to her every now and then when he'd call to speak to her son but I hadn't seen her for at least a couple of years. But...a couple of Sundays ago...I happened to look over my shoulder and who was being wheeled in but Betty. It was too close to the time for the service to start to go say anything to her but something told me not to leave without speaking to her after church was over. So...after the closing prayer I went back to where she was sitting and said hello. She looked at me rather confused and said, "I'm sorry!" and pointed at her head, so I got down more at eye level and said, "It's me, Betty. It's Kris." The light dawned on her face and she grabbed a hold of me and patted my hand, laughing and telling me, "Oh, yes! Yes! I know you! So glad to see you!" I was so very glad to see her, too. Our history went back a long way.
I can't say the news of her death came as a shock. But it sure brought home to me the fact that when you say goodbye to someone, you might truly be saying goodbye. I am so glad I listened to that prompting, telling me to make sure I spoke to her before I left. If I hadn't and I'd heard the news of her passing I would've had regrets the rest of my life.
We get so caught up. We get so busy. We see someone or think of someone and let that opportunity slide by without acting upon it. I don't always succeed at acting upon those promptings but I try to do the best I can...like sending notes or cards of encouragement if someone comes to mind. My beloved Aunt Gin -- I can never talk about her without calling her 'beloved' -- was a perfect example of someone who heeded those promptings. I knew of many times when she'd stop by and visit a housebound church member. Or bake a pie for someone and drop it off. But it wasn't until she died and I inherited her journals that I found out just how much and how often she actually did these things. Not bragging...just writing about how she'd picked a bouquet of roses out of her garden and thought Sister Addie might like them so drove over and took them to her. The countless dinners she cooked for people. The amount of money she and her husband spent each year sending - anonymously - probably hundreds of kids thru the years to Youth Camp. The list of charitable causes their estate left money to after she and her husband died would put even Bill Gates to shame, when you take it in context. She was a marvelous role model. I miss her more than words can tell.
1999 was a very difficult year for us. If it hadn't been for cards and phone calls from people who were concerned about us, who told us they missed us -- we'd left our church for a while -- and told us they loved us...well, who knows where we'd be now? It doesn't take monumental effort to let someone you know that you care for them or are thinking of them...just an e-card saying "Hello! Have a nice day!" I have these beautiful words listed on my sidebar but they're well worth repeating here, too...because they're so true:
"If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet, how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person." -- Mr. Rogers