Man, I wish the time we had together would have lasted longer. It was only two years we shared before the cancer started slowly taking you away from me. I had so many questions, I still do. How did you do so much in your short life? Do you know how often I think of you? How will you ever know how much I appreciate the man you raised?
In order to fully appreciate the woman I am writing about, you have to know a little about her. When I met her, I was 15-years-old. I had an enormous crush on her son, and she knew it. The first time I ever met her, it was around Christmastime. She was in her kitchen, simple and understated, just like her. Standing just over five foot-five, I felt like I towered over her. I would soon learn not to underestimate her petite frame.
She was so welcoming. She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and radiant smile, and immediately made me feel at home. That was her specialty. That was Becky.
We started a conversation about Christmas break plans and where I would be on Christmas Day. She invited me for dinner. Yes, this woman I just met ten minutes prior already invited me to Christmas dinner with her family. But that was Becky. It’s one of the traits she instilled in her husband, and I am working to instill in myself. How did she know I wasn’t some juvenile who was going to steal the china the moment she wasn’t looking? She didn’t, but she trusted people in a way that I envy. She raised her son to trust people the same way.
Over the months, I would learn how much this woman would resemble Mother Theresa herself. Driving into the inner city to feed the homeless, going to prisons to minister and spread the Good News, heading up a monthly spaghetti dinner at church to raise funds to send kids to go to camp. The list goes on and on. Then there was a guy we will call ‘James.’
The first time I met James, I will be honest, I was intimidated. To my 15-year-old self, I remember him being a 300-pound, African-American male who I knew had done time pretty much his whole life. Now in reality, he was harmless but growing up in a whitewashed world, I remember being intimidated. So James walks in to my crush’s house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, and as I’m sitting there a little unnerved, Becky jumps up and gets engulfed in his arms. Her tiny frame almost disappearing in the embrace.
See Becky had ministered to James while he was in prison. She had taught him all about Jesus, and about living a better life when he got out. Between Becky and Jesus, James had been saved. When my crush told me this story as I sat on the couch in Becky’s living room, watching the two of them interact, I was no longer intimidated, I was inspired. She raised my husband to love and give second chances. Thank you Becky.
Fast forward two years, and the pages of the tough chapter start turning. Breast cancer diagnoses. Becky never unwavering, finishes out her last school year as a teacher. It would be the last year she would ever teach. When she started chemo, she refused to stand by and watch her hair fall out in clumps, so one day after a visit to the salon, she walked in and triumphantly pulled off a wig that remarkably looked exactly like her own hair to reveal her bald head. Yep, that was Becky. She raised my husband to be resilient.
At this point, I was 17-years-old and her son and I were pretty steady. I was over at her house far often than I would EVER want company if I was battling cancer. She never minded. She never made me feel unwelcome. She would ask questions about how school was going, how my family was, suggest a great devotional book. She loved me like the daughter I wasn’t yet hers, but would be someday.
Then came some of the worst days my husband and I have ever faced. Her death, her funeral, the days of grieving. There was a viewing and it was set for two to three hours, but there were so many people who showed up the line was out the door and it ended up going over the allotted time.
At the funeral, my future father-in-law read from a prayer diary she kept, he read the names of people she prayed for, the list seemed to go on forever. There was an opportunity for people to share their favorite memories of Becky, the large church packed with people spoke of her kindness, generosity, ministry and love. In her death, Becky taught my husband and I the value of leaving a legacy.
A legacy is priceless, and precious. Not every parent leaves one for their children. Becky did, not just for her children, but for me and for her children’s other friends, for my kids who hear about Grandma Becky any chance I can make reference to her. So when I am with my husband and he talks to a stranger too long, or is across the street helping our neighbor install his new fridge or refuses to give up on me after we have a fight, I thank you Becky for raising my husband.
Thank you for raising a man who loves his wife and his children. Someone who will drive hours to help a friend move, will show up late at night to my mother’s house when she has a problem with her computer, who through his faults is always striving to do better. A man who isn’t afraid of commitment, who works hard to provide for his family and is willing to do whatever necessary to make his marriage work. I wish my kids had the benefit of your presence in their lives. If I can do half the job you did raising your son, my legacy can live on in them, because Becky you did an amazing job.