The last time I sat in the kitchen with my friend, Kathy, I could see her trays of seedlings lined up under grow lights in the next room. Inch-high heirloom tomatoes and peppers, melons, herbs and who-knows-what-else held the promise of sun-warmed produce in the months ahead.
I held my friend’s cold hands that day, rubbing her fingers between mine as they poked from hand-knit mitts. She’d given me two lined notebook pages filled with her familiar scrawl. They were blog posts, the essays she wanted me to share with her followers after she passed away. Her cold fingers couldn’t manage the computer keys any longer and I knew the writing had been painful. I set the pages aside. I’d look at them later. We had plenty of time.
Two days later, Kathy’s battle with ALS ended and her new life with Jesus began.
I have been Kathy’s scribe for the past six months, taking her beautiful, raw musings, editing them and placing them on her blog. Not long after Kathy was diagnosed with her fatal disease, she decided she had things to say. Together, we set up her web site and she began mining her journals, drawing from years of talking to God. She named her blog Stones. As she laid down “stones” her ponderings were centered on these words from Isaiah 4:24:
“….so that all people on earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and you might always fear the Lord.”
Kathy was brutally honest about her feelings, about the struggles she was having with the day-to-day realities of her disease. She was also hopeful, joyful and grateful, and most of her posts included scripture, a quote and often a song. Kathy knew the Lord’s power over her life and she carried in her heart a healthy fear of Him.
Kathy was the quintessential “earth mother.” Her vegetable farm, Heritage Acres, sprawls across the broad lawns surrounding her home. A hand-built greenhouse sits in the middle of the back yard. When she wasn’t in the gardens, she was in the greenhouse, where she tended young plants and herbs and packaged seeds to sell at the local farmers’ market.
More than once I stopped by Kathy’s small farm only to find her lying on her back in the grass, taking a short rest surrounded by the smells, textures and colors that were her lifeblood.
Not only did Kathy give life to anything green and growing, she held life in her hands. A trained midwife, she “caught” thousands of babies during the decades she assisted with home births, helping to bring into the world babies of mothers she had eased from the womb in an earlier generation.
As Kathy’s strength was sapped from her body, friends and family pitched in to buy her a golf cart so that she could continue to make her rounds in the garden this spring. Kathy had four days of high-flying fun on that golf cart.
Spring slipped into the calendar this week, just days after we celebrated Kathy’s life and legacy in the little white church down the road from her house. Her sons and husband led us in worship, songs Kathy had chosen just weeks earlier. Family and friends shared stories, scripture and poetry.
It is spring. Kathy is sniffing dirt, planting seeds and praising Jesus. Which is as it should be.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade…” ~ Charles Dickens