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lessons in keepin' the faith
Today is my Mom's seventy third birthday and we celebrated in an unusal way...by attending a funeral together at our "home" church. Mrs. T was an icon of grace and beauty even during her long fight with lymphoma and ovarian cancer. She and her husband are members of the Sunday School class that has been home to my parents and many others for years and years. Now Mr. T will be a single member of a class that consists mostly of couples who have grown older in faith together through good times and bad. Her daughter Kat and I were in a group of girls who went through church and school together and still hold the friendship dear.

The celebration of Mrs. T's life was inspiring and uplifting. I heard someone whisper that they didn't realize how much she had done for others with her faithful life. I sat with Mom behind three of the other members of the bunch of us that ran together. Among the four of us, only two still had our mothers. Old friendships are very cool like that, where you can disappear from each others' lives for months or years and pick back up like no time has passed. And that is what we did. We whispered during the piano prelude about what has been going on with each of us...a capsule version of the past year or two. We joked about how we always said that Mrs. T must have had perfect posture even on the potty because she was always so composed and graceful. We lifted our voices together singing hymns that we were raised on.

And we cried. Not the hysterical sobbing of a sudden loss but the melancholy tears of the paradox that is jubilation and sadness all rolled into one big lump in the throat that couldn't be held down as we remembered the life of one of Big Ernie's most faithful servants. But then we smiled, because we could picture with utmost clarity Mrs. T sitting with "perfect posture" at the banquet table that the preacher described, waiting for the rest of us to join her.

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