Friday, April 27, 2012

I Said Goodbye to a Friend Today

I said goodbye to a friend today.  She passed from this life last Sunday after a valiant battle with cancer. I am not allowed to share her age. She made that forbidden territory.  But I will say that she was four years younger than my mother, who was born in 1927.   I use my mother’s age as a frame of reference primarily because Sara treated me like she was my mother.

Every Sunday after church in the foyer we went through the same routine. She would say: “Listen….what about ______”?  In her Tennessee Southern drawl, she would proceed to ask me about some church matter that I probably had no business discussing in some cases. At other times, she simply wanted to prod me about an issue in which she had an opinion to offer.  It was really great fun. I could respond in a light manner at times and she took that well too.  But I always answered her. I do mean that I always answered her. What 49 year old man ignores a voice that sounds like his mother’s?

Sara told me I was obviously taking my Vitamin B when she thought my sermons were good.  (That was not a weekly compliment by any stretch.) I always knew her intent was to encourage me.  She wanted me to grow and improve. Her motherly instincts just naturally kicked in.

In 2009, Sara’s husband, Glenn became very ill. I spent a good deal of time with them at the hospital.  And I later officiated at Glenn’s funeral in July of that year. I think my relationship with Sara changed from that day forward.  In her mind, my dosage of Vitamin B had been upped.  My sermons seemed even better to her.
She continued to encourage me and even told me that my Sunday morning presentations were “maavelous” in her charming Southern drawl.

Not long before her death she summoned me to her home one Monday afternoon. Now I am pretty protective of my Monday’s off.  But when Sara beckoned, I naturally jumped. After all what 49 year old man ignores a voice that sounds like his mother’s? I was given very specific instructions regarding her funeral that afternoon. I was not to vary to the left or to the right.  I promised that I would follow through with her desires in the same way that I promised my own mother nearly 21 years ago prior to her death.    

Today I fulfilled my promise to Sara.  I officiated at her service. We sang the songs she requested.  I shared things in my eulogy that would have made her laugh. And most importantly I stressed to her grandchildren that she and their Grandfather were both fine Christian people of the strongest moral fiber imaginable. 

As I approach a significant birthday soon, I realize that the voices that sound like my mother’s are going to continue to fade.  It makes me sad if the truth be known. But I do know to take my Vitamin B everyday. And I know now that I have a responsibility to reach out to someone younger than me, and urge them to “listen” as I share my own words of wisdom.

 But for some reason I think I may not be taken as seriously as Sara.  I just don’t have the Tennessee accent…And I don’t have a motherly voice.  There is nothing quite like a motherly presence.  God bless Sara. She was my friend and I miss her. I said goodbye to a friend today. 

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