Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A tribute

Today a friend of my parents passed away. She was such a sweet lady. I never knew her well, but I liked her a lot. She was so full of grace and poise. I remember how much she loved praise and worship, how she would raise her hands with such a sweet, peaceful look on her face.

As soon as my mom told me she had passed, I remembered last night, and the night before, and the many other nights I prayed for her healing. I had prayed it so long I really did believe it. Almost immediately, I could hear the devil whispering, "See where your faith has gotten you? Now you look stupid because you refused to see the reality of the situation. Isn't your faith shaken?"

I cut short his lies very quickly. My faith is not shaken. I still believe God is good and able to heal.

I kept thinking about death in general and I began to realize something. I have no memories of death (except for various pets) when I was a little child. Perhaps, the saying is true, maybe death really is kind to the young. Is it possible we all reach a point in our lives where death starts to affect us? Or is it there all along, but it takes years for our hearts to realize it? Is it different as we get older? Do teens grieve differently than the old and wise?

All those pent up thoughts ran wild in my mind. I had held them at bay for months, but today they were set free.

My mind drifted back to early this summer, when a very dear person was lost to me. She was like a grandma to me and I loved her like one. She always introduced me to people as one of her granddaughters even though we were not biologically related. Everyone affectionately called her Mama Joann. I have so many memories of her,
like the time she came up to me during the annual tent meeting hosted by our church and pinned a little name tag on me. It had my name and underneath it, it said "Hospitality". It touched me that even then, during the busiest week of the church year, she took the time out of her busy schedule to make sure I got a little printed name tag just like all the adult workers. I still have that name tag.

Another time, we were talking about me being left handed and she laughingly told my mom, "She gets that from my side of the family."

And then when she got cancer, her attitude never changed. She was still the sweetest lady I knew. She was still so in love with Jesus.

I will always wonder why I never asked her for the secret to making her lemon pound cake so pretty. It's a question that must go unanswered I guess.

When she died, it caught me extremely off guard. I had come to think of her as healed, and so quickly she was gone. I was at my youth group when I found out. I can honestly rank that evening as one of the worst nights of my life. I was determined not to cry. I'm still not exactly sure why. I mean, surrounded by my friends it wouldn't have mattered. But in that moment, it did. I kept telling myself, "Be strong. You can cry at the funeral. You can be weak then." After that it just got worse. My mom came to pick me up and I had the task of telling her. It was awful. I had partially recovered from the initial shock, but my voice was gone in an instant when I tried to tell my mom.

The next day we went to help out the family in any way we could. We cleaned her house, we went through old photos, we helped with the wording of the obituary. The whole thing was sort of surreal. I kept feeling like we were throwing a surprise party for her because her entire family was there.In her sunflower-filled house, her favorite flower, I kept feeling like she would walk in at any moment.

I hate grief. I tried hard to avoid having to go to the wake. I was lying on my bed crying when my mom came and talked to me. She told me she had never seen Mama Joann cry at a funeral. She was the lady who organized all those events, even for people she knew and loved, but she never cried. She was strong for the grieving ones.

When I went to the wake, Mama Joann's husband (we all call him Papa Jerry) told me what a comfort it was to see my smiling face in the midst of all the things going on. I was embarrassed, but I gave him a huge smile to comfort him. I was so glad I went that night.

My mom was asked to say a few words at the funeral. She doesn't like public speaking, but she has done it on many occasions, very well I might add. She was very nervous, but I held her hand until she went up to speak. I didn't cry at the funeral. I had said I would allow myself, that I would be weak and helpless, but there were people who needed to see me smiling.

We all lose loved ones. It hurts every time, so keep the families of Anne Winters and Joann Dixon in your prayers. They were two great women who loved God with all their hearts. They are at peace now.


Bonita said...

Bre, what a wonderful tribute to Anne and Joann. They both would be so honored by it. I can almost here Mama Joann in heaven saying, "She gets that talent from my side of the family." Thank you for taking time to honor and remember them.

Sue J. said...


I've been reading your mom's blogs for about a year and a half. That you have started one of your own is so exciting! I had been encouraging my daughter to start one--because she has so many ideas and loves to write. It was very freeing for her to launch one this summer.

You do write from the heart, for sure! I absolutely feel where you are. I remember being lost when my grandfather died. My folks weren't ready to share the news with us, and when they finally did, it was just blurted out. I think they were overwhelmed.

In our heads, we understand death as a fact of life. Our hearts don't always go along at the news, however. I understand not wanting to cry. But I now also understand crying at a moment when it is quite unexpected, because that happens, too.

As your heart leads you in your passion for writing, let it lead you in all things. You love Jesus; He has a lot to show you.

So glad your mom sent us here today. (And that you said it was OK for her to do so!!)

Debra said...

Hi Bre,

I found your blog through a link on your mom's blog.

I really enjoyed reading through your posts. I love the descriptive way that you create mental pictures for readers. You are truly talented.