Wendell and I have been friends and colleagues since I started working at Highland over six years ago. He’s better looking and more intelligent than me but he handles that burden with a certain grace that puts us inferior types at ease. We aren’t the kind of buddies who hang out together every day or see each other every other weekend. We are the kind who enjoy one another’s company and who find that whatever time we spend together is time well spent. We’ve shared stories of growing up and of growing older, shared philosophy and music and several cups of coffee. We are the kind of friends who see eye-to-eye, even when we disagree.
Even if we were strangers, I would have been sorry to hear of his mother’s passing yesterday. A woman of great and determined faith, she was ninety and had been in declining health for some time. Even though we may see that time coming, it still seems to catch us by surprise a bit when it does happen. She may well have been the person least surprised.
A very close family friend was visiting her yesterday morning, both of them enjoying the visit. She talked with him for a while, completely lucid. When he got ready to leave, he leaned over her reclining bed and kissed her goodbye. She raised herself up from the pillow and told him, “I’m going to a celebration.” Then, she lay back on her pillow and took her last breath. Went on to that celebration that welcomes those who embrace it as she did just as confidently as if she been cooking breakfast.
Wendell has now lost both of his parents; his father died just two or three years ago. It is never easy to let go, to know that the last conversation upon this earth has been had. But his mother left him an extraordinary example for when that time of leaving comes to him. An example of which he is fully worthy.