Wednesday, March 23, 2016


You know how people in your life will stand out for various reasons and when they die, you think about them???

I have been experiencing that this week. There was an older lady from my church that had a reputation as a moody legalist. Odd description no? She could be quite loving when she was trying, but if you disagreed with her, she would go off like a cherry bomb. She had a number of medical issues. Among them was a heart condition of some sort and finally Alzheimer's. As that last one worsened, her extended family finally took charge of her and she ended up in a memory care facility in Indiana. Muriel died recently. I think it was on the 16th. Her family brought her remains back to Des Moines for burial. The graveside service is on Thursday - tomorrow.

As I considered how her life bumped up against mine, her effect was, shall we say, memorable. She would come to my Sunday school class from time to time. The first time was an event. After sitting through it in a scowling, angry silence, she took the time afterward to tell me that I was the worst teacher she had ever seen and that any man in the class could have done a better job. Some time later, she attended again and apologized after for her first showing telling me how good I was. Such was life with Muriel.

Though I never experienced it, I am told she was generous with her material possessions, giving heavily to missions that the church supported. She was also on the missions committee. As she slid into Alzheimer's, she became more agreeable and loving, or at least that was my experience. Others may have other stories and I have no clue how she behaved when she arrived in Indiana.

Muriel and I had some things in common in that neither of us ever married and we were both caretakers of aging parents. She took care of her mother for over 50 years. I cannot imagine 50 years with my Dad, even though it already feels that way some times. She also did customer service for the phone company. Given her personality, it's hard to see her doing that, but back in the Day, there was only one phone company, so I guess it did not matter if the customers were pissed off. Where else could they go? I also do customer service in the air freight business and competition is fierce. Customer perception matters. Muriel would never have made it in my business.

I also find myself wondering how she would have taken the news that I laid on the church back in November. I'm thinking she would have had a fit of some sort, but I do not know that.

Muriel was a piece of work. I told someone yesterday that I thought people would show up at her funeral just to make sure she was dead. I know a certain preacher that referred to her as the Dragon Lady but he seemed to appreciate her despite her mood changes.

Yesterday I tried to imagine her approaching the gates of Paradise. Peter summons John to answer the door just this once knowing that words of criticism would be forthcoming if he let her in. Once inside, she sees people there that she was sure were going to Hell. In utter shock, she asks them what they are doing there. Funny. Good times. I don't think Paradise will be boring, especially now that Muriel is there finally knowing what true grace is. I think she must be awestruck, thinking she and Jesus would have the place to themselves!

Let me close by saying that how we live our lives here effects the lives of others in ways we do not now consider. People will remember us when we are gone. Those memories will be a mixed bag. Keep that in mind as you journey to your final destination.           

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