Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Gospel of Meme

I stand before you today a grandson grieving. I come to share my grief with you and share in your grief for the loss of a life, the life of a woman who was so many things to each of us, but in our shared experience one who was so dear. One who has left an indelible mark on our lives not only for who she was but also for the lessons she taught us on how to live a life full and rich in the blessings of God and of Love, as a Christian woman and child of God.

I’ve wracked my brains over the past couple of days on just what to share, to recall those “Great moments” I was blessed to experience with Meme. The more I thought about it, the harder it was to think of singular great moments. I’ve soon come to realize in my short life I’ve not experienced so-called “Great Moments” with my Meme. What I have come to remember and recall are those shared moments of intimate simplicity and those lessons she taught by word and example of life and love. In the wake of the sense of Loss, details have become muddled, but it doesn’t matter. These Moments and lessons compared to any of the great historical figures probably pale and seem rather banal n the eyes of the rest of the world. But they were moments and lessons none the less that got to the heart of who and what she was and affected me and obviously all of you and the many that couldn’t be here.

It reminded me of someone else who like my Meme and many of us was of humble origins and who throughout life touched and taught many people simple values about Life and of Love, and of God. The very people who were touched by that life were set with the same daunted task that falls before us. How to celebrate, understand and remember not only that Person, but also how to apply those experiences shared and those lessons learned in their lives and share it with others.

Biblical Scholarship has told us that the sayings and sermons of Jesus in the Gospels were not singular events of note that some one happened to be carrying around quill and parchment dutifully copying, but were heard on many occasions by not only those faithful followers but many more. The Sermon on the Mount probably was heard on many hill tops around Galilee and Judea, the parables were probably taught in the various towns and villages the region over, time and time again. And still there were those intimate moments of breaking Bread with Him that were shared in many homes. But everyone who shared in his life who experienced his teachings remembered those lessons and messages and experiences – that Gospel none the less.

Galatians2: 20 says - "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. This is the call of the Christian and it is in the Spirit of this truth that I ask:

So what then is Our Gospel of Meme? What is the Good News that she brought to us and we were privileged to share in with her?

The Meme I remember was the Matriarch of the Family. Meme was a church going woman who for years I recall singing in the choir and who would sit in the pews with us grandchildren and would give us a mint if we got to comfortable or if the Pastor’s message wasn’t as interesting to us as her. She marked her Bible and took notes. She gave us quarters or dollar bills to put in the offering plate. As much as she was a Pillar in our formation as kids as we all got older we always gave her due deference in regard to matters that affected us individually and as a family. Her opinion on any matter had a way of settling things, her blessings quieted concerns.

The Meme I remember enjoyed being with people. She might not have been able to get out much on her own these past few years, but there wasn’t a single person that I recall her talking to on the phone not telling them before hanging up that she loved them. Every Christmas she sent out a mountain of cards to persons far and near, many family, all friends and looked forward to hearing from them or receiving cards as well. There wasn’t a single person that came in the door that she didn’t try and give them something or tell them that she loved them.

The Meme I remember was a source of constant comfort even when comfort didn’t seem necessary. She was the woman sitting in her chair on Chatham Drive, looking out the picture window at the people passing by, who when I came to visit would let me sit in her chair with her, snuggle up on her shoulder and she would sing and hum various old gospel tunes. It didn’t matter how big I got, from the time I was a small child, to even the grown man I am today, I had a place of comfort, of warmth and love sitting in her chair or more recently in the hospital bed or nursing home bed with her talking of news or nothing at all as she would gently rub my arm or scratch my back and she would hum or sing. And when she did the sorrows of the world, even the joys seemed to melt away and not matter.

The Meme I remember was a devoted Wife. I remember she would sit in her chair with Pas opposite her and aggravate the hound out of him. I’ve come to realize and know something that I’ve always known was true but became ever more so in the past year and a half - since his passing - and in his absence just how much she loved that him. I’ve come to appreciate that she didn’t cajole him out of malice, usually, but just because she loved him and he needed to be cajoled so he could share in her excitement for life and love.

The Meme I remember showed strength and dignity and patience during times of adversity. In the Hospital during Pas’ last days I pushed her wheelchair up to the bed and watched as she rose. She leaned over his bed and whispered his name; she called to him telling him that she loved him. She just kept calling to him, telling him that she loved him, and assuring him that things would be ok, that she put everything in God’s hands, that she couldn’t hold on to him anymore, to let go and go home to God. She leaned over him, and rubbed his hair away from his forehead, calling out to him. She sat back down so I could wheel her over to the other side of the bed and she could sit and hold his hand keeping silent watch.

See her Gospel isn’t that much different than Jesus’. Hers was a Gospel of Loving the Lord her God with all her heart, with all her Soul and Loving her family, her neighbors even strangers as herself.

Hers was one of feeding the hungry, whether physically or spiritually with the fruits of the Spirit poured out on her, or with her Chicken and dumplings or collards or baked ham or whatever she touched in a kitchen.

Hers was a Gospel of welcoming the stranger by speaking to all and with words of hope and gentleness and care and telling everyone she loved them.

Hers was a Gospel of caring for the Ill, either by taking care of her children or grandchildren when they couldn’t go to school or praying constantly for those faced with the many ills that life presents and the sins that imprison us.

Hers was a Gospel of Faith, Hope and Love shared with all, the greatest of which was her Love for each of us.

But her Gospel is not complete with just my words. These are but a few memories. This is only a portion which is made full by the memories in the hearts and minds of all of you gathered memories that we all share and carry forward.

Thank you for taking the time to join with our family today in sharing our pain of Loss, but more importantly for sharing in the joy that we have experienced in knowing this formidable Woman of God that has been Sister, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother and most importantly friend.

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St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Beautifully written. I'm sure everyone there was touched.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My name is Gretchen and I have helped to care for Frances Cornelia Kelly (94), sister of C.D. Kelly and Aunt to Tillie, for many years. This morning I searched the internet for Tillie in an attempt to let her know that Frances has broken a hip and is in a nursing home in the mountains of NC and is declining. If someone from the family finds this comment, please contact me at gretchandtheboys@bellsouth.net. Thank you.