In the past three weeks, my family has experienced the deaths of three friends and/or relatives. While we mourn that these three are no longer with us, we rejoice in knowing that all three are now home with Jesus Christ and we will see them again. Unlike those who are taken from us far too soon by disease or accidents, all three were 89 to 93 years old. And, all three can be said to have had lives well lived. As I prepared to attend the memorial service for the third this afternoon, I found myself reflecting on what each of these people, none of whom knew the others, had contributed to my life directly and indirectly.
Ernestine Starnes – The Starnes family attended the same church as my family when I was growing up. Mrs. Starnes was a proud graduate of Baylor University and always reflected fondly on her experience there. When I decided to apply to attend Baylor University, I knew immediately whom to ask to write a recommendation for me! One of the things I remember about her is how thrilled she was when I was accepted for matriculation (do they even say that anymore?) into her alma mater. A few years after I had graduated, I remember how excited she was to become a Baylor Heritage Club member – a distinction for those who graduated 50 years ago. Whenever I saw her, we always talked about what was currently happening at Baylor – whether new academic programs, presidential searches or athletics.
Dovie Bell – Aunt Dovie is my husband’s father’s sister and was the last of her siblings to pass away. I first met her shortly after Dave and I were engaged in May 2004. While I did not get a chance to know her very well, all it took was one meeting with her to know what a wonderful, sweet spirit she had. Dovie started experiencing memory problems around that time and had to move to an assisted living center. Sometimes she would know me when we visited; I think she always knew Dave. He had spent many childhood summers fishing and visiting with her and his Uncle Frank – so they were very close. She would always tell us that she “did not want for anything” at the center, but she hoped she could go home soon. She is truly at home now and experiencing a grand reunion with her brothers, sisters, and husband who went home before her.
George Dean – “Uncle George” – but he wasn’t really a relative; just a very good friend and hunting buddy of my father’s, but I think they did more domino-playing than hunting. George was always joking. When he’d call the house and my sister or I would answer the phone, he’d ask to speak to Grant Teaff. But, all joking aside, I think George was the kind of friend whom you could call on if you were in need and he would help and never think twice about it. Everyone needs friends like that. I’m glad my dad had George as a friend.
So what lessons can be learned from these three lives well lived?
- Be proud of your heritage.
- Be accepting of your circumstances (Jeremiah 29:11 states: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [NIV])
- Be a friend.