Yesterday afternoon my sweetheart's dear stepmother quietly slipped away from the boundaries of life. Her journey here on earth was over - she had lived well and loved much. We really didn't want her to go but we couldn't ask her to stay. She loved us as her own; we loved her the same. Her heart and arms were always open to us and we never felt anything but her incredible joy to have us in her life.
The story of our dear one's coming into our lives is precious to our hearts. My sweetheart's mother went to be with Jesus several years ago and his father's heart was broken. Many changes happened within a short time and he moved from a community in another state to a town about an hour away from us to live near my dear sister-in-law. He really didn't want to make the move and he longed for his former home but he knew it was the best choice. He moved into an apartment in a retirement community where good people opened their arms and hearts to him. While he missed my dear mother-in-law intensely he enjoyed the friendship of his new friends. It wasn't long and we began to hear about a group of people - especially ladies - who rode the bus to church with him, walked to the nearby grocery store together and included him in activities of all kinds. And then one precious day about two years later he married one of the ladies in the group. He was ninety. She was eighty-eight. My sweetheart was their best man. I played the organ and I cried so hard with joy that I could hardly see the keys. Our dear son performed the ceremony together with the retirement center chaplain. Our son was a young youth pastor at the time and he told us he never dreamed that the first wedding he would perform would be for his grandpa! It was a day filled with joy. Two families came together and have loved each other ever since. My father-in-law and his bride were happier than we could have imagined. They were so in love and everyone around them knew it. They called themselves 'recycled teenagers'. They loved each other deeply and they loved each other's families as their own. It was something we never could have dreamed possible. And they had fun, such fun together. For three years their lives were entwined together. Last year he passed away and her world was turned upside down. Since that time we have continued to visit and call and send a few letters and pictures on a regular basis. She always thanked us for our love. And we felt so blessed to have hers. She saw things in my sweetheart that were so like his father and she knew that she and I had loved and married men who were so alike in many special ways. Because of that, my sweetheart was very special to her - like a son. And she loved it when he called her 'Mom'.
Our lives will never be the same because of this sweet lady whose love stole my father-in-law's heart. And ours! She brought a beauty and a sweetness that can't be described. That's what she did for everyone whose life she touched. She will be missed much but she will always hold a special place in our hearts. A place no one else can have. Because of her, Heaven seems just a little closer now.
Artwork: 'Heaven's Light'
Artist: James Lee