At the funeral service, for fellow friend and educator, Ellen Styles yesterday afternoon… I think the visual quote above could have summed her life up completely. Ellen, was one of those people, whom you wanted to be around because she was a “nice person” who did “nice things“…continuously.
It was close to standing room only in our church sanctuary and the service and sermon became an intimate storytelling session…exactly what Ellen would have wished for…
Tommy was kept busy directing cars to the back of the church’s large parking lot…keeping the traffic flowing…while Kaitlyn sang “The Lord’s Prayer” so beautifully one could almost hear tear drops hitting the floor in the hushed tone of the church. She has so much God-given talent in her voice. And speaking of talent, Susan Cadwell, close friend of Ellen’s, had volunteered to play the organ…a family affair!
There was a mixture of backgrounds and careers at the memorial service… but a large majority were teachers, educators like Ellen. Teachers are a loyal group and show up after years of not seeing another teaching comrade…many coming from long distances.
Jeff’s sermon, based on adjectives (from family and friends) that described Ellen in conjunction with Jesus’ death…with the name “rabbi” or “teacher” playing a major role in the final death scene… brought back a personal memory to me… *my own loss of a sibling.
Other close childhood friends and teaching buddies shared hilarious and caring tales about their witty friend who “sucked more marrow out of the bone of life” than several “average Joe’s” put together.”
*My younger brother David, was in the midst of student teaching his senior years at Erskine College when he became suddenly ill. It was March of 1973…a cold rainy night. (The campus doctor had thought it might be the flu when he went to see him the day before and sent him home over the weekend. David woke mother up in the middle of the night and said he had to go to the emergency room…he was having trouble breathing.)
So on that cold rainy night mother rushed him to the hospital (driving with her one hand) only to discover that the emergency room entrance was under new construction and closed…mother was in a panic! Finally she found an lit open entrance and a stretcher was brought to take David in.
A young first -year intern was on duty…he started getting some information from David and the last question he asked him (when David told him he was a senior at Erskine) was what he was going to be? David looked him straight in the eye…and said “A teacher!” He then keeled over and was gone…an aneurysm of the heart…side effect of Marfan’s Syndrome Disease.
What happened next was even more remarkable…the first-year intern didn’t have the heart resuscitator to try to re-start his heart…in all the construction it was on the third floor. The intern was panicking…and sobbing…as mother held David on the floor.
But with her one good hand she grabbed his and said “Son…it’s okay he’s already gone…there is nothing you could have done.” The intern fell on the floor weeping and calling out for help. Within seconds the rest of the staff found mother holding her dead son in her lap while consoling her other ‘son’ …The word “teacher” still lingering in the air and thoughts of mother and the intern.
It was the word Mary uttered when she finally realized Jesus was alive and back from the dead…”Rabbi...teacher.”
Last week when I sent a condolence card to Ellen’s husband, Brooks, and family, I added this quote that touches me every time I read it…the impact of the truth of it never fails to open my eyes to the journey we are on…and not just on…but own. We are the journey!
So until tomorrow…“Safe travels Ellen…you are simply changing directions now and all you have to do is keep going.” The rest of us will catch up with you one day. *You’d better have a great joke ready! 🙂
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh