I went to a memorial service this morning. It was a celebration of the life of one of my high school friends’ father. Specifically, it was the father of a friend who was in my high school and college age youth group at church. Although I attend church rarely these days, there was something special about that group of teenagers. They, and their parents, and the people I consider my church family, made an indelible mark on my life. Each holds a very special place.
Today, near the beginning of the service, One of Mr. Hadley’s daughters, Ruth Ann, stood to share some thoughts prepared by Mr. Hadley’s family. The message was to remember one of Mr. Hadley’s favorite things to share with people: be good to yourself.
The story Ruthie told described the impact those words had on a young gal who cared for Mr. Hadley in this past month at Friendsview Manor. He told her to be good to herself every day. And every day she was re-convinced that he was right: she should be good to herself.
“Be good to yourself” is one of those things people say to me that I let slide off. Why? Because when most people say it, they are feeling pity. They feel sorry for me or Rex because of our dedication to Andy or his mother, or for all the events of the past few months. Or, the message really isn’t be good to yourself, it’s be indulgent. Do something frivolous.
But today, I could hear Mr. Hadley say it: to me, to you, to anyone. And he said it in that soft-spoken way with his eyes twinkling, from deep in his heart. (Was he saying it just before he told us to “stand to sing this one” as he did for the first hymn every Sunday?)
And you know what? I was good to myself today.
I saw old friends from that church family. Friends who accept me, and my family, at face value. Who appreciate my humor, who know that even my “naughty” streak comes from a place of love. They get me. And with them, my guard is down and I can enjoy life. This handful of people from my younger years, who are a big part of my staunch belief in God (though I express it in a nontraditional manner), who gave me the gift of joyful singing that has stayed with me, were a wonderful gift today, and always.
They are exceptional.