Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Story of One Of Us

One of Us

We all know this vehicle. On days when we are behind it, we are saying goodbye to someone we love. On other day we may be frustrated because it is holding up traffic and we have somewhere we have to be. Then, there is the day we may be in the back of one.

Today, a very dear woman who I knew was in this one as I took the shot. I had just officiated her funeral. I was asked to by the family, which I thought was nice and touching which is why I agreed even though my ordination is more technical than active. 

Less than an hour before the service, I found out from her daughter, Mimi, that one of Virga's dying wishes was that no one else other than me perform the service. I think she knew that I was no longer an active minister and I do not think she cared. I was one of her dying wishes and that moved me on a level I could not explain. 

I call this the story of us. This is her story.

My first significant conversation with her was when I buried one of her little ones. A woman I went to high school with who was the mother of one of the kids in my youth outreach. I sat and spoke with her as she wore her broken heart on her sleeve and we bonded. We talked about her religious journey and the people she buried and how she was not ready to say goodbye to her loved one that day. Later, she thanked me for making it okay for her to say goodbye to Reka.

Virga was born in 1926 at only two and a half pounds as a premature birth delivered by a neighbor. As a little girl raised by share croppers, she would pick peanuts and cotton in the fields.  She would grow to be a young woman who served her country during WWII by working in a factory that made powdered eggs for the troops overseas.

In 1944 she got married to her true love and they would move to Chicago. She would go on to work for Western Electric for 40 years building circuits for telephones.

She would lose 4 babies, but successfully have and raise 3 others. They would give her 8 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. Never to be outdone by anyone, she took pride in her abilities as a seamstress and a cook.

She was loved by everyone and the neighborhood kids would come to her as the mom for all. She took this role for 3 generations and touched the lives of five. She lived a life that was hard and full of loss and pain that began at birth and ended hooked to machines to do what her kidneys could not.

She hated every treatment, but she felt to stop would be suicide or quitting. She wanted death, but on her terms. And that meant fighting on. To spend another day with her family and tell another story.

I saw tears in the eyes of 4 generations as I spoke. Some of them were the kids from my youth outreach. They are no longer kids. They are no longer teens. Some are married or have kids. They have jobs and college degrees and lives.

Without knowing it, Virga and I were loving the same people who needed love. We were partners in love. Together we made a difference and we did not know it.

To give her rest and tell her story was...and honor.

She had a heart of gold and the world lost a treasure. I just thought you should know a little about her.

A few facts will not sum up a person.

All I can tell you is that her smile could light up a room. Her light was pure and honest and loving and kind and strong and bright burning fire. She was amazing. She was interwoven into the fabric of so many hearts and we are forever connected through that.

I wish the angels in our lives could stay with us forever and never die. But that is not how things work. They die. We lose them. We have been handed a lovely legacy and it is now on us to love as she had.

I still do not know why she chose me. Why she insisted it be me. I am glad she did. I am humbled and honored she did.

I miss her.

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