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Monday, July 11, 2005

One Wedding and a Funeral

Last week, my husband and I went to the funeral of our next door neighbor, Mrs. Rhoads. She was a very kind lady of 91, who had worked out three times a week at the health club, and never complained. To give you an idea of the sort of woman she was, about two months after my baby was born she saw me mowing the lawn. "Should you be doing that so soon?" she asked. Then she offered to mow it for me. Yes, a 90 year old woman offered to mow the lawn for her 37 year old neighbor that she barely knew, out of concern.

She didn't tell anyone she had cancer. We found out by accident, when we participated in the Relay for Life, a cancer fundraiser. There were paper lanterns with names of people with cancer and people who had died of cancer, and we saw her name. Even after we spoke to her about it, she never complained, though. She just said that she'd had a good life and was ready to meet the Father.

Her children, also faith-filled, said the same. Yes, they would miss her dearly; but there was no doubt in their minds and hearts that this loving lady would be full of joy in the presence of the Father of all Love.

The funeral was a beautiful testimony to the life of a woman who lived for God. It was also a testimony to love: the love between her and her spouse of more than sixty years, the love between her and her children, the love that she extended toward all -- strangers and friends alike. My husband and I both found ourselves hoping that we will one day be that kind of witness of a life of love.

Then a speaker at the funeral said something that stopped me in my tracks. He spoke of people feeling guilty for the things they meant to say or do, but never got around to. He said not to focus on those things, because Mrs. Rhoads certainly wasn't. But I was already thinking of the loaf of bread I had meant to make her, to thank her for her kindnesses. But then I found out she had high blood pressure and worried that my recipe would be too high in cholesterol or sodium. I never got around to finding another recipe, or even letting her know in some other way that even though we didn't know each other well, she had deeply touched my life with her enormous heart.

Saturday, we went to the wedding of my brother in law. It was one of those "finally" weddings, and we were all delighted to see him stand beside someone he loves enough to step into life together with. The priest at the wedding said something I thought beautiful and wise, just as he was wrapping up his homily. He referred to couples, after many years of marriage, being able to say "I shared the best years of my life with the person who made them the best years of my life."

After seeing both an ending and a beginning of deeply loving marriages, and after being reminded twice within a few days of the beauty and importance of love, all I can think is to pray that I and my husband may live the kind of life together that will fulfill all the highest expectations of people stepping into marriage, and inspire others when we reach the end of our life together. I hope I will never again put off till tomorrow offering signs of love and appreciation.