While the attention of the nation is focused on the prolonged death of Terri Schiavo, I'd like to herald the passing of one of our nameless saints.
Last week, three childhood friends of mine became orphans when their mother, Anna, finally joined her husband.
What can I say about "Ma T"? She was a mother-figure to most of the teens in our church. As a four-eyed redheaded outcast, she made me feel loved, accepted, and normal ... Ma and two of her kids were redheads, too. I felt as comfortable with her and her family as I did in my own home -- sometimes more so. Always there with a helping hand for whatever needed doing at church, including hand washing and drying hundreds of communion glasses, and always ready to listen to whatever kid needed to pour their heart out. Most of us considered Chris, Joanne and Andrew the luckiest kids around to have her for their mother for real, as opposed to the many of us for whom she was a surrogate.
She raised her kids right -- I remember one of Chris' teachers commending Ma T because during a school riot, Chris stayed behind to protect his female teacher and insisted that a gentleman could do nothing less. Andrew, despite being a couple years younger than my crowd, occasionally provided the mature "conscience" we needed when we were cutting up in the lobby just before church started. Though I hung out more with the boys when we were all living home, it was Joanne who kept in touch after I moved away.
I've been in California 25 years, but my memories of Ma T are as fresh as if she'd hugged me only yesterday. A great lady, never to be forgotten.