As a pastor, funerals are a part of my life. I help families and friends say good bye to loved ones all the time. This year, I also acted in some ways as a family chaplain and buried two people in my husband’s family. We really do have an important gap in the family Christmas now that his great-grandmother is gone. She was a tiny, tiny woman with an opinion as big as Texas. She let you know what she was thinking, all the time. She was ninety-nine years old and hospice care was such a blessing for her – pampering her and comforting her in those last couple of weeks of her life. We let go of her peacefully and with little pain in our hearts.
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
In my pastoral life this year, however, it was not the deaths, but the goodbyes that impacted me the most. One good-bye in particular…
|Photo by: Margan Zajdowicz
This summer, a stalwart of our congregation moved south to be with family. Wilda was always at the church. Always. She’d be tidying something up, folding bulletins, moving things around, making sure things were just right. She has a great little laugh and everyone always says she must be on roller skates – she’s able to get around to so many things in so little time.
While there are a few others who have that same kind of commitment to the congregation, losing any one of them leaves a gap in what we are able to accomplish. They often say that 10% of the people do 90% of the work… well, I know that is true and when you are a church as small as we are – those 10% are vital!!!
We get lovely calls from Wilda and her life is warm and good down south with her family. But we do miss her colloquialisms, like ” in a coon’s age.” And we miss her morning glory muffins and her peanut butter pie. And the youth group misses her sliced apples (they really are just sliced apples… but I never seem to have the time to get the whole big bowl of them ready).
This congregation has become a family to me, and anytime we say goodbye to someone, there is a small bit of pain and longing. But it was our time to let go of her and let her retire and be among her family and watch her grandkids and great-grandkids grow up.