I wrote this a few years ago but never published it. Until now. This is the story of Mary, one of the faithful that I was privileged to know during our years in pastoral ministry. Today I post this in honor of her.
We drove to Corning yesterday to check in on Mary. She was falling a lot, probably due to her failing kidneys and dialysis three times a week. Now she is in a nursing home for rehabilitation. Our visit was long overdue, she'd been there for several weeks and this was the first time we'd been over to see her. But she didn't seem to hold it against us. Not Mary. Larry went in search of a couple chairs and she immediately started to talk, as if the words had been pent up for way too long and she couldn't wait to get them out. So for the next hour or so as I plied her with questions, she did just that. Talked. And talked.
A place like that can be lonely. In the case of Mary, her husband and daughter are a good half hour away and neither drives. Several days might go by before she's able to see them, and she misses her own place. But still too weak to dress or bathe herself, going home isn't an option. Not yet anyways.
Mary has lived a simple life. She and her husband rent a small duplex, filled with too many cats and a daughter who will never be able to live independently. For years she rode the church van each Sunday morning and evening, teaching the preschool classes. She was faithful, never missing, always there. And then about a year and a half ago she stopped coming, simply too weak to make the ride over and back.
|Mary teaching one of her preschool classes|
As simple as her life might seem, Mary is actually quite intelligent and articulate. She always had a book close at hand for the downtimes while working the information desk at St. Joseph's, one of the local hospitals, a job she had to discontinue when she became ill. We also have a nice church library, and no one has taken greater advantage of its contents over the years than Mary. She would probably have made a good teacher. Come to think of it, she was.
Mary opened the drawer of her tray table and pulled out an envelope. "Bill and I just had our anniversary," she continued. I nodded. I'd seen it listed in the bulletin a couple of weeks earlier. "Forty-two years. We've been married 42 years. I was in rehab that day, and I didn't know he was going to come." She began to cry. "He was here an hour before he even came and found me. He didn't tell me he was coming." She opened the envelope and drew out a greeting card. "He brought me an anniversary card and he didn't even sign it. He never signs his cards which annoys me." She was quiet for a moment as she slid the unsigned card back into the drawer. "But he came. He came." And that was enough.
We would see Mary just a few more times before receiving word that she had died. Her desire was to get back home. She did. She's Home.