Saturday, March 22, 2008

My little tribute to a great lady

The sky I wish Mamaw could have enjoyed at 6:45 p.m. tonight, just before I saw her for the last time....

There is a precious lady that tonight needs your prayers. She is one of my favorite people in the world, and has been ever since I first met her 20 years ago. Evelyn McDonald is the grandmother of my ex-wife. She is 91 and tonight she is in the hospital with a severe illness that is attacking her body, but not her precious spirit.

Do you believe in unconditional love? Do you believe that a life best-lived is the life that is centered around meeting the needs of others, rather than self? Do you believe in being positive when everything and everyone else around you is negative? Can a person do that while maintaining a healthy sense of humor? Do you believe that a human, other than Jesus Himself, can exemplify these characteristics? I do. I have seen it lived out beautifully in the life of Evelyn McDonald.

I am hesitant to even write for publication some of the things that she put up with. I don't like saying negative things about people. One of the things that she lived through, though, was the death of her only son. He was driving home from work after working way too long, and he fell asleep at the wheel. This happened in the early 1970's. I think she still grieves his passing. Her husband, when they were in their 70's, was unfaithful. Some would have told her to let him go. She continued to believe in him and hold out for him. She refused to completely reject the love of her life. When he decided to get his life right, guess who was there for him in his time of need? Guess who took care of him when he was on his deathbed? You guessed it!

If there was a family member or friend down on their luck, or just in need of a smile, laugh, company, or an encouraging word, where did they go? Where did people go to laugh, sing, and feel "at home"? That would be the home of Evelyn McDonald.

How do you respond when you learn that your granddaughter is getting divorced from a man that you love and respect? What if he is accused of heinous things that are not even true? I don't know what Evelyn thought, but I know one thing. She treated me with as much love as ever before. She never blamed anyone. She just loved and accepted people, no matter what. What is wrong with that? She didn't even seem to waste her time getting to the bottom of things or getting into who was right and who was wrong. She seemed to have the sense that everyone needed to be loved and treated with as much respect as possible. And she does love!

Tonight I went back. I went to visit Evelyn in the hospital. She has been in and out of consciousness. She can barely speak. She seems to have a hard time recognizing everyone and what is going on around her. She keeps saying, "OK" over and over, as if she is talking to someone and doing something for them. That is not surprising! That was her lifestyle: giving.

The first time I was by her bedside tonight, she looked into my eyes and seemed to light up with recognition, but didn't say anything. She just reached for my hand. I held her hand for a while and told her that I love her. There were a lot of people who came to visit her. I stepped out of the room for a little while and spent some time with my sons David and Matt. Joe was spending the night at his friend's house. David stayed up all night with his mom last night at the hospital. He was supportive and has turned into a young man. I was proud of him. Both he and Matt drank vanilla jungle coffee. I digress.

I felt strongly led to go visit Evelyn one more time. Almost as soon as I came in the room, she saw me. She said, "Mike!" loud and clear. I immediately went to her side, hugged her, told her I loved her, and said, "hang in there". I didn't know what to say other than I wanted her to hear how much I love and respect her. She pulled her oxygen mask off and my ex-wife's sister said, "She wants to kiss you!" I put my cheek up to her so she could and I kissed her back on the cheek and forehead. I hugged her.

I am so glad I went to see her! I am not good at going to hospitals. I am like a fish out of water. This was not easy for me to do at first, but I felt an overwhelming urging from the Lord in my heart that gave me an unusual desire to do it.

Before I left I prayed and prayed. I wanted to be a special blessing to her. I realized I had a unique opportunity. Not because there is anything particularly special about me. I just realized that few people have the ex husband of one of their grandchildren come and visit them like that to tell them they love them. Usually there are a host of reasons why that would not happen. I even struggled with that a little bit. I wondered who would be there and what would they think of me based on the things they have been told. I decided my love and respect for this great lady trumped anythings else.

We all have a tendency to think that great people are famous people. There is no denying that many great people become famous because of their greatness. Most great people don't become famous. One of the greatest is Evelyn McDonald.


Sharp said...

Wow. That's a powerful testimony to her and I'm glad you went to see her!

Mike Wilhelm said...

Sharp, I am too. I just got the call. "Mamaw" passed away this morning at 6:30.

Dewdrop said...

She sounds like a beautiful woman with a tremendous soul and a capacity for love that far exceeded that of most people. I am glad you shared that. Beautiful.

Mike Wilhelm said...

Dewdrop...Thanks for your comment. That is right about her.