This is part four of a series about Carolyn and her husband, Charlie. Carolyn was admitted to hospice when she was sixty-nine with Parkinson’s disease. Carolyn suggested, “When you stop fighting your sickness you start fighting each other.” Charlie claimed, “That’s why I look so bad. I’ve been beaten on the head and face for a long time.” Carolyn replied, “No it’s not! You were born that way!” Carolyn looked over at me with her characteristic self-satisfied grin. Priceless!
Charlie has commented on more than one occasion, “Never put off the opportunity to do a good deed. You never know when it might be too late”. Based upon the testimonies about Carolyn’s generosity, she didn’t miss many opportunities.
Carolyn’s daughter, Amy, sent the following testimonials to me in a text message. “This one is from Amanda, one of the children mom babysat; ‘They are two of the most influential people I have had in my life. Papaw Charlie taught me about God and his forgiveness and love. Mamaw Carolyn showed me boundless love and unending kindness that I still try to show to other people today. They are amazing people who have blessed many people’s lives, especially mine.’”
Amy added, “This is from Linda, Mom’s niece: ‘All I can say is Aunt Carolyn is an awesome aunt. She was always willing to lend an ear and helping hand to anyone! She gave me lots of wonderful advice over the years. She made my prom dress and Kathy’s wedding dress. She and Uncle Charlie unselfishly came to our house to take care of all us kids when mom was in the hospital. She is one in a million. God broke the mold when he made her. She is the most wonderful woman that ever lived. If God would have made her first there would have been no sin!’”
Then Amy added her own testimonial, “Mom has always been a caregiver, sacrificing things she wanted and needed for the good and benefit of others. She loved everyone like they were all her family. She would stand up for the weak and the sick; visiting nursing homes and hospitals, praying throughout the night for people that were on her heart. I guess that’s a love that you can only get by loving God first. She always seemed fearless to me, never afraid of trying anything and generally mastering anything she tried. She made our clothes and made our house a true home. As a kid I remember waking up to her being up super early getting Dad’s breakfast and packing up his lunch and to hearing her sing songs and praising the Lord in the kitchen. She always seemed so happy and contented. I remember being completely shocked when I was older and started going through her drawings and poetry books finding that there was a time in her life that she was actually sad and depressed. She always did so much for others and tried to keep a smile on her own face that I didn’t realize that she was struggling with life herself. God truly has blessed me beyond measure having her as a role model and such a wonderful example of what a woman of God should be. My parents are two of the hardest working people I know. I love my parents more than words could ever say.”
I once commented to Carolyn, “Your life reminds me of the song, ‘Thank you for giving to the Lord’ by Ray Boltz”. Tears welled-up in Carolyn’s eyes and she replied, “Thank you; that means a lot to me. That’s one of my favorite songs”. Following are excerpts from the song: “Dreamed I went to heaven, you were there with me. We walked upon the streets of gold beside the crystal sea…One by one they came, far as your eyes could see, each life somehow touched by your generosity; little things that you had done, sacrifices you made; they were unnoticed on this earth, in heaven now proclaimed. I know up in heaven you’re not supposed to cry, but I’m almost sure there were tears in your eyes; as Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord, He said, ‘My child, look around you great is your reward.’ Thank you for giving to the Lord; I am a life that was changed, Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave.”
Charlie commented, “We all want to be the center of attention, to be in the limelight; we want to feel special. “ But many of us feel and go “unnoticed on this earth”. But God certainly notices; and what we do in secret for others here on earth is openly proclaimed and rewarded in heaven.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven…but when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”(Matt 6:1-4)
Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 740-356-2525