Friday, September 08, 2006

Miss Vivian

"May I get the door for you, Miss Vivian?"

My sons, Corban and Micah, figured out pretty quickly that Vivian McLure would sometimes need her doors opened for her. One of the oldest members of our congregation, she walked with a cane and nearly always had something in her hand; a potluck dish, a container of biscotti; so they were happy to watch for her and run to the door when she arrived, saying, "May I get the door for you Miss Vivian?" She would step through the doorway with a twinkle in her eyes, and a happy greeting on her lips for her two little friends.

We loved listening to stories she told, as well as her good friends, Tom and Claudia Holmes. They spoke fondly of camping trips with Vivian where they would be talking and laughing so loudly that they worried the next campsites over might have thought there was alcohol involved! It was hard to imagine this silver-haired matriarch as a wild child, but a picture I've seen of Vivian says it all – she is standing in front of a building, her hands clasped behind her back, toes pointed in, fresh-scrubbed and smiling in her pretty dress. She looks mischievous; and there’s that twinkle again.

One day, I took my husband’s place and walked over to pray with Vivian. But instead of heading right into prayer requests, I asked her to tell me about her life. What I learned has convinced me even more that angels do live among us. They might walk with a cane and have a crown of silver hair, but they touch lives like mine with their sunrise smile, twilight twinkle, and deep, deep faith.

When Vivian’s family came to take her to Elko, I observed her, for the first time, without a smile on her sweet face. It was breaking her heart to leave her home; and while we knew it was for the best, her church family’s hearts were aching as well. Even the farewell party we held in her honor at the church building had to be videotaped - she couldn't bring herself to come and say goodbye.

On her last day in this town that she grew up in, married and bore children in, experienced deep joy and survived great heartbreak in, we took our children and walked for the last time to Miss Vivian's house. We put the baby in her lap and knelt around her, clasping hands for a final prayer, together. Her eyes filled with tears as we spoke words of thanks for this dear woman.

Friday, September 8th, at 6:30 a.m., the phone rang. And I knew instantly.

Her back is straight and her legs are strong as she walks up the path of another place I know. Her eyes are twinkling, and Someone else is saying...

May I get the door for you, Miss Vivian?"

2 fellow travelers shared:

kevin said...

Your words are like a catalyst. As I read about Vivian, I felt like I was getting to know her for the first time. After I heard the news of her death this morning, it didn't shake me up; I was expecting it to come soon. But reading your reflections on her life brought tears streaming down my cheeks. God is doing something amazing in you. Keep writing!

Nicole said...

I didn't even know this amazing woman but as I sat there reading your words touched my heart however I don't know if I was crying because of her death, or if I was crying because I am pregnant or if it was just that I needed to cry to release some of my built up emotions... but thank you Elise, thank you for making me cry.

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