We are usually bustling, running ten minutes late. And even though we live walking distance to our church, we manage to enter the doors after the music begins. Hugs. Programs. And then around to the right a table stands with a rack of plastic covered nametags. And that’s where I most remember being greeted by her smile. Consistent, steadfast, kind. Martha first welcomed us when our littlest one had a mouth full of baby teeth and didn’t know her left shoe from her right. She watched and marvelled with me as the boys’ voices grew deep, as their stature grew high.
I loved to see her eyes, especially when she laughed. They had fire and they were bright. Her daughter, Jami, has her same eyes. Those she loved most surrounded her in her Christmas card photo–husband, children, their spouses, grandchildren. And in her eyes is a look of satisfaction.
And today we said good-bye to Martha.
From where I sat, I watched row after row of men, women and children walk by her casket. No dry eyes. An entire sanctuary full of people who came out today to honor Martha, to cry with her family. An entire sanctuary full of people whose lives she touched. People like me who will miss her deeply. People like me who will miss her hugs by the name tag table.
A rare and aggressive leukemia came out of nowhere and took over her petite body. We heard news of her diagnosis in May. She was given only a handful of months to live; weeks really. Hospice care. Shock and disbelief. I felt deeply humbled and honored that she was willing to see me briefly for a visit. Her nails painted a pale pink. Her body frail but her eyes were warm, kind. Her Bible was close by. Her room filled with beautiful flowers. But she was most beautiful in the room. I told her that day that she is one of my heroes because:
It’s not often we are able to see marriages that have stood the test of time. Art and Martha celebrated 50 years together.
It’s not often we are able to see someone walk closely with God throughout their lifetime. Martha trusted Christ at 13 and remained true to her King.
It’s not often we are able to see someone model faithfulness to making huge contributions in the quiet. Martha served selflessly and blessed our entire church and everyone who entered the doors.
But today I could see through the tears from where I sat.