I don’t usually blog about my faith. I don’t think I wear it on my sleeve and there are moments when I don’t feel I am a good example of my faith so I don’t broadcast it. But today I am going to write about faith, not mine, but the examples I have had in my life.
Recently I lost four people, one as recent as last night, who have been a shining examples in my life. They didn’t shout it to the rooftops but they quietly influenced others in the way we should live our lives.
I wrote my column earlier this week on three of them, but last night God needed another angel in heaven. His name was Gerald.
I first met Gerald when I was Sunday School superintendent many years ago. He taught for almost as many years as I had been alive. That might be an exaggeration but not by much. He cared about the kids, took them on many trips to the Boundary Waters to experience God’s creation and interacted with everyone young and old in our congregation. His sense of humor made us all smile. He was a fixture, always there, not preaching but leading and being a friend to all. I never heard him say an unkind word to anyone and I always remember him having a smile on his face. He inspired all of us in his quiet way to treat people kindly.
When I heard of my friend’s death last night I thought about these four people who influenced my life and I wondered; will our younger generation have examples of faith as I have had? In this world it seems we may have lost our way and the examples we have make up the reality of our times. We seek examples in other places besides the quiet people we know that live their lives walking beside us as an example of how we should treat other people. Will our younger people look back at the age I am and see the quiet influence of those in our life who have walked the walk and talked the talk of faith?
I share my column to honor my other three friends too.
Here’s my column. from the Albert Lea Tribune the week of October 26.
There are people in our lives who influence us in a silent way when we are with them. They make us laugh. They make us think. They help us experience life in a different way through the way they live their lives. It is so silent we don’t realize the impact they have on us, but when we walk away from spending time with them or talking with them on the phone or messaging with them on Facebook we are better people for interacting with them.
This week my heart is sad, but yet it is filled with hope. In the past few weeks there have been three people in my life who have left this earth and left their legacy behind. One I have known since I was teenager; his name was Dave. Another I met in the past 20 years because her parents were good friends of ours, and she became a good friend, too. Her name was Shannon. The third was an author friend, a Facebook friend, and touched my life from afar even though I never met her but spent time messaging and chatting with her on Facebook. Her name was Joyce.
Dave touched my life when I was teenager. I remember at that time thinking that he and his wife had the love story we always hope for when we get married. It didn’t mean there would not be tough times but love would conquer all. I was reminded as I sat listening to his family at the funeral that Dave always had a smile for everyone, always made the person he was talking to feel special and always let his family and friends know what they meant to him in his life. He touched my life in ways I did not realize until he was gone. His faith inspires me even after he has left this earth. I will remember it always.
Shannon battled ovarian cancer for 12 1/2 years. All the while she was going through her journey with this disease she took care of her family, she ran her business and she did it with a smile, a sense of humor, hope in her heart and she saw beauty in every day and she shared that beauty with all of us. She was courageous and beautiful inside and out. She believed in the goodness of God’s love, and she shared that faith with her family and friends on a daily basis. She loved us, and she was deeply loved and she will continue to inspire us the rest of the days of our life.
Joyce LaVene and her husband, Jim, are the authors of over 60 books in the mystery genre. The books are whimsical, fun and mysterious. Joyce died suddenly, and the writing world mourns her death. I can’t tell you exactly when Joyce entered my life. The first time I became aware that she was in my life she had shared some of my posts and my tweets. Soon we messaged, and I found out she had lived in Minnesota at one time. We had something in common. She became a regular part of my online life and I looked forward each day to sharing tweets and was always surprised when she promoted my books because in my eyes she is famous. Joyce was generous and kind with all her author friends and her readers. She took time to know us, to help us, and she made us feel we were special part of her life. I will miss her sparkling personality and our connection.
As I contemplate the sadness I feel at losing these people I also feel blessed for their presence in my life. We take those in our life for granted. Each one of these people touched my life, inspire me to be a better person and left me a legacy of hope that I inspire others the same way these three people inspired me. They shaped part of my life silently by their example.
I realize I have written lately about death, but in death there is life. The way we live our lives influences those around us without us knowing it.
These people weren’t saints. These people had their flaws as we all do, but they were genuinely beautiful people inside and out. It doesn’t mean they didn’t get mad, didn’t hurt and didn’t vent their frustrations because they were human. What they left for us was how to handle those moments with grace, dignity and love. They knew how to make others feel special. They knew the importance of giving of themselves to help others. They didn’t set out trying to be an example, and I don’t think they thought of themselves as examples, but unknowingly they touched my life.
A recent conversation with a woman who was a child when I was a teenager reminded me actions are remembered. One day she wanted to tag along with me and my teenage friends. We weren’t so kind that day and I feel ashamed thinking of it. I remembered it and so did she 50 years later. I apologized. It took me 50 years to do it. The way I treated someone 50 years ago still lived in the memory of the person I was unkind to 50 years later.
I think of what I say to people on a daily basis. I think of how I interact with those I love. I am not always kind. I am not always patient. Would I be ashamed of what my last words would be to the person I am speaking to if something happened to me or to them? Another conversation I had a year or so ago with a friend reminds me of that. The last words remembered by this friend coming from the person who now was deceased, were angry cutting words directed towards my friend.
I feel blessed to have known these three people who inspired me to try to live my life better in the future. May you rest in peace, Dave, Shannon and Joyce. Thank you for the memories.