My mother died in October after a long and difficult decline.
She had been a messenger in Mark's sense all her life, and she'd let God teach her new ways of looking at the world. Over the years, she expanded her outreach from her family and church to people and communities that had been invisible to her. Her family dinners became populated not just by her husband and children, but by the old, the infirm, the lonely, the far-from-home. Her house was a community gathering place, where someone might stop by, at almost any time of the day, and find her ready to listen.
In her last months, Parkinson's disease robbed my mother of the ability to form a sentence, and she spoke so softly she couldn't be heard. It was a cruel loss for a woman whose gift was communication. Still, day after day, week after week, as I pushed her wheelchair through the halls of Saint John's, nearly everyone we passed stopped to greet her. She would smile, take their hand, and say something that couldn't be heard. They would say to me, "She's such a nice woman." Or, "She's so very sweet."
She was those things, but I wondered how they knew. She was never at her best during her time in Milwaukee. But somehow she was still communicating - without a voice, but still a messenger.