Sunday, April 15, 2012
M is for Marcella
Marcella would have been my mother-in-law. Here are five other things about her.
1. Marcella was a writer and a poet. I have a letter that she wrote at age 55 to YWAM to ask if they would allow her the privilege to be part of their team. She wanted to invest her empty nest years in a meaningful way that wasn't possible while raising five sons. She also wrote poems for her oldest son, Tony, while he was in Vietnam.
2. Marcella had quite a sense of humor, and knew how to embarrass her sons with it. I loved that about her, because I think it's kind of spunky and fun to not be so uptight about certain things.For example, when her son David and his young wife went to the mall with her in the early 1980's, they all wandered into a waterbed store. Marcella plopped down on one, and remarked something to the effect, "This would be a great bed to have s-- on!" Another time she said something I thought humorous (but it mortified Paul who doesn't comment on women's bodies-- and he easily blushes). We were dating and he was living at his Mom's. I happened to get up from the sofa where Marcella and I were chatting about a writing desk in the far corner. As I crossed the room, she said to Paul, "Zoanna's got a nice rear-end, doesn't she, Paul?" (I was 21; things have changed.) Can you imagine the shades of red he turned when his mother said that? I might even have turned pink. But the funny thing is, I can still make him blush by flirting with him. He never knows what to expect out of me. That's one of the secrets to a long marriage--keep them guessing!
3. Marcella was a fun grandma. I remember watching her play Flea Market with the grandkids. Everything had a price and she was always haggling. "How about this sock, Matthew? Will ya take a dime for it?" She also played Army Men with the boys. Her only granddaughters were out of state and I don't recall what she played with them, but I know she did.
4. Marcella had compassion for the homeless. When she was attending a Presbyterian church in the city, she would bring them to fellowship in the church basement. She made sure they got a hot meal and something to drink, and respite from the elements for a short while. And she genuinely enjoyed sitting with them and getting to know them. She could talk to anyone. The main problem was, they smelled bad, and the church members didn't want them upstairs in the sanctuary. It was fine for them to be in the basement, but not upstairs where everything was clean and people were showered and dressed up for church. As I write this, I remember the time my husband was sharing this with a church group 12 years ago; he almost never cries, but he couldn't hold back the tears.
5. Marcella died of a ruptured aorta only 20 days before our late December wedding. She had had similar symptoms and pains as her son ,Gary, who had passed away 13 months earlier the same way. I had no idea the night we visited her in the hospital would be her last. Through agonizing pain and labored breath, she asked me what color dress my mom would be wearing. "Burgundy," I told her. She was happy because she had chosen a long, emerald green one with lace. It sounded beautiful and she was so excited at the thought of Paul getting married. It was beautiful. We buried her in it. I just couldn't grasp the sorrow and joy that co-mingled as we were planning a wedding and going through a funeral just weeks before Christmas.
I wish I'd known Marcella better ,and I certainly wish she had known our children ,and vice versa. Good thing there's eternity. Marcella and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- and a lot of grateful homeless people to whom she showed God's kind of love--will be united in heaven. Maybe playing Flea Market?