|photo credit Shutterstock|
A nice woman answered and said there was no one there named Marie Wise. She asked how old she would be and I said she probably was up in her 90s now. I apologized for disturbing her. She said, “It’s no trouble at all, but Aunt Marie doesn’t live here. She lives in a nursing home near Baltimore.”
“She’s your aunt? She’s still alive? Do you have a number for her? Could you get a message to her?” I asked.
“Well, no. I haven’t seen her for years, but I hear she’s still doing okay. I think she’s in Catonsville, up behind the Home Depot.”
I had no idea what she was talking about. But I added, “I just want Marie to know that she had a huge influence on me, that she is the kind of Christian I want to be. She probably doesn’t know, but I want to tell her.”
“Bless your heart,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll be talking to her.” We left it at that.
Marie was the front desk receptionist where I worked, back in the days when my marriage was ending and I was a mess. I loved that woman. I can still see her sitting at her desk, her worn Bible beside her, nearly every verse marked in some highlighter color, like Joseph’s coat of many colors. Often, at the end of the work day, I would just hang out with her for a few minutes, or I’d squeeze in a quick visit in the middle of the day to breath in a little of her peace. Her faith was like a rock and she exuded joy and wisdom, gifts that had to come from the grace of God. I wanted what she had.
On my final day at the job, when I was leaving and knew it was unlikely I would see her again, I stopped by the reception desk on my way out. She hugged me and we said that we loved one another, right out loud in the middle of the office. We had a special bond and I couldn't even appreciate at the time how much she meant to me. I'm sure I cried.
All these years later, as I think back about that time and wish I could talk to Marie now, I imagine how the conversation would go. What would Marie say to me?
She would say, “It’s always something, isn’t it? That’s just the way life is because we’re not in heaven yet. Trials and tribulations, uh huh, we’ve got that for sure. Ride it out, hold on to the hem of His garment, and put your troubles at the foot of the cross.”
Marie—a woman whose faith shone all around her—made me want to be her kind of Christian, a calm, convicted woman, with faith like a rock. So when I ask myself what would Marie do?—I know the answer. She’d pray, give it to Jesus, and keep waiting for heaven.
I love you, Marie, wherever you are. Thank you for the gifts you gave me.