Last week, Mr. Magpie and I attended the funeral of his aunt. It is striking and poignant to me that I mentioned her waning health on this blog for the first time ever two weeks ago and by the time the post had published, she had just passed away. That is to say, the morning we learned the news, she was already being lifted in prayer by total strangers in this Magpie community.
Mr. Magpie’s aunt was a joyful, loving woman who did not mince words. I have many memories of her shooting straight from the hip at family gatherings, and then lifting her voice in unexpected and deeply moving prayer over the Thanksgiving table. I distinctly remember catching my mother-in-law’s eye during one such occasion and there were tears streaming down both of our cheeks. Mr. Magpie’s aunt adored both Mr. Magpie and “her man,” the gentle soul who was at her side for a decade, including four years navigating intense cancer treatment. She, and “her man,” lived with Down’s Syndrome. They were fiercely loyal to and protective of one another and were absolutely inseparable. Many of the pictures on the slideshow at her service featured the two of them sitting hand in hand in hospital beds. The stories shared about her at her that day all painted the same motif: she was an exuberant, affectionate, loyal woman who reminded us how little, in the end, we need to live fully. She prompted us all to lean out and open up.
The day she passed away, my mother-in-law was unfailingly at her side but stole away for a few minutes to ask the landlord living upstairs something about the WiFi. He followed her down to address the issue, realized it was nearing the end for Mr. Magpie’s aunt, and stayed with them for the remainder of the day. As it turns out, the landlord was a doctor and was able to step in and help with some of the ministrations required for the newly-deceased when the time came. Later, h offered to prepare my mother-in-law dinner and then drive her home. And he sat in the pews of the Church, too, at her celebration of life last week, where the pastor began the service by imploring us to “get outside ourselves and make some noise for God.”
It was an echo of something already resounding: the prayers from this community, the rich generosity of the landlord, the bravery my mother-in-law conjured to stand up and say some final loving words for her sister that day — all people “getting outside themselves and making noise for God.” It is said that coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous, but in this case, it is difficult not to see these kindnesses as an extension of His gesture.
Frankly, I can’t think of a better legacy.
Cheers to getting outside ourselves and making some noise today.