Thursday, February 1, 2018

Be Still...

My good buddy Mary passed away today.

The last time I saw her, I walked into her room on the skilled nursing floor of Good Shepherd Village and found her standing by the side of her bed. I could tell by the look on her face that she was trying to either remember or find something.

We sat down and Mary asked me if I could show her a verse that someone had recently printed out for her.

I found it flopped over on the shelf opposite her bed, printed as large as possible to fill up a full size sheet of paper. I propped it up so she could see it, even if her failing eyes couldn't make it out too clearly.

She had been thinking about this verse and knew it well, but since she couldn't see it and, with moments of clarity coming and going, she wasn't able to recall the words quite right that day. So, I read it to her: "Be still and know that I am God."

She kept repeating the word "still." Then she'd forget and ask me again what it was.

I told her, "Be still."

"Still, still," she said over and over. "I guess that means I should just be quiet."

She went on to tell me about all of the commotion she saw around her daily on the floor where she now lived. She said that everyone there was always so busy and the staff was always trying to keep the "inmates" (as she fondly called her fellow residents) entertained. But she thought she must have a purpose in being there … and maybe that purpose was to just be quiet and wait, hoping that if someone needed help she'd be able to say the right thing. She was sincere in that desire.

In December, Mary celebrated her 100th birthday. In her century of life, she had seen and experienced more things than most of us could ever hope to witness. She had lived through eras of history that seem so distant to us now, but to her were just a moment past.

She started her career working as a message carrier, taking memos between top executives at IBM decades before computers were a mainstream thing. She had a true spirit of adventure and traveled the world, visiting dozens of countries, lands, and people on six continents, choosing to sail on freighter ships instead of luxury liners where she and her husband would get to know the crew and experience the world in ways everyday tourists wouldn't think of. She decorated her apartment with countless trinkets from her travelsmasks from Africa, a statue from Burma, a mini kangaroo from Australia, scarabs from Egypt, brass plates from Greece, a miniature Viking from Norway, and a replica Tommy gun that she hung over her computer deskevery surface cluttered with memories, photo books, and journals. And, of course, she had her pilot's license, flying small planes and soaring free ... just for fun; just because she could.

It was my sincere privilege to have known Mary my entire life, and she's known my family since she and my grandmother were friends as teenagers. When my siblings and I were young, Mary would always bring seemingly bottomless tins of cookies for us when we'd travel together on long car trips. Reminiscing tonight, my sister and I remembered our favorites: the big round ones that looked like white and red tires with icing circling raspberry jam filled centers. Oh, they were delicious.

Over 30 years later, Mary still always made sure we were well fed. When she was able, we'd go out on our special dates to her favorite restaurants, and in recent years when she couldn't get out as much we'd sometimes just grab a late Sunday breakfast together in the dining room at her retirement home, inevitably stopping at every other table in the joint to say hello to her friends. She knew everyone, and everyone loved her.

Mary had done everything and been everywhere. She'd lived a long, full, impactful, trailblazing life. And now, after 100 years of adventure, she just wanted to "be still."

As I left her room for the last timenot knowing it was the last timeshe simply said, "I love you."

I love you too, Mary. You were a dear, dear friend. Thank you for everything.

Be still.


  1. Oh my word. I’m so sorry for the loss you and your family will feel. This is a beautiful tribute to her. Much love


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