I don’t even how to tag or categorize this post, much less give it a title. I am sitting at my desk overwhelmed by the grace and power of beautiful a soul with whom I just spoke on the phone. Next Saturday I’m going to DC to hug her, at her husband’s funeral.
Some of you who are locals may have seen the recent story about Cecil Mills, a DC man who died after collapsing across the street from a DC Firehouse. The firefighters at the firehouse seem to have refused to give help and aid. The story is fresh, tragic and on-going. Without leaping to vilify anyone or falsely accuse, let’s just recognize that something went horribly wrong that day at the firehouse. Aid should have been given. In the news footage you can see the “Safe Place” sign on the firehouse. It should have been the perfect place to run to for help when Cecil Mills collapsed.
As I watched he story and the news footage I noticed images of Cecil Mills proudly wearing his Shiners fez. He was a Freemason, as am I. I am a Mason in Maryland under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Maryland. I’ve not been Mason for very long, just a little over two years, but I felt the pull to make sure the family of my brother Mason was being cared for and helped in every way possible. He was a DC Mason and I’m a Maryland Mason, but that doesn’t matter… a Mason is a Mason. I made a call to the bigger Shrine Temple in DC to make sure that someone was looking into things. In case you don’t know, the Shriners (known for their Children’s Hospitals) are Masons. Not every Mason is a Shriner (I’m not), but every Shriner is a Mason.
I also did a quick internet search for Cecil’s daughter, mentioned in the news stories as Marie Mills. I had already found the church and called them to get the time and date for Cecil’s funeral, which I considered attending, but I was compelled to find out if he was still active with his home lodge and if they had been given the chance to support his family. We Masons take care of our brothers and their families in tough times. With a big knot of nervousness in my stomach, I dialed the number I had found for the daughter, Marie Mills.
The Marie Mills who answered the phone was not his daughter, but his widow. As I introduced myself as a local, fellow Mason who saw the news and wanted to reach out to the family, I felt like she became my newest best friend. Her grace and peace reached over the phone lines and held me. and We chatted about his enthusiasm and joy in being a Mason, and the joy he had in being a pastor’s son whose son was now a pastor. We spoke of their 54 years of marriage and the hopes she had had of many more. We spoke of the gracious friends and supporters who have reached out to her family.
Yes, Cecil had remained active in his local Masonic Lodge and yes they had been to the house in support of his family and widow. Yes, the funeral is planned for next Saturday at 11:30am, at the church his father established. Yes, I will be there and I will deliver a big hug to Marie. She said, “If you’re not here, I’m going to come up to Bethesda! I use a walking cane, but I can whip with it, too!”
I’m not sure what this blog post is about except to share the incredible mercy of being allowed to speak with Marie Mills, today. I know it’s scandalous for some of you to think of me being a Mason, and there’s propaganda and scary stuff out there to justify your concern, but it’s simply not accurate. Next time someone says, “I wonder what those Masons are up to?” you can tell them we’re funding hospitals, encouraging one another, meeting in lodge buildings around the world, supporting local charities, checking in on our widows, and sometimes wearing funny hats. That’s pretty muchly it.
As for me, I can’t wait to meet Marie next Saturday and pay my respects for Cecil. I’m sure that any husband of Marie’s for 54 years is well deserving of my respect. From my time talking to Marie I would say that Cecil’s death is a little bit of light going out of the world. I’m so glad hers is still shining and so graciously shared.
Today is my anniversary! I’ve been married to an amazing woman for 22 years. We’ve raised a family, lived around the world and I hope we have many, many more years to go. To celebrate 22 years I’m going to share 22 reasons I love my wife and my life with her.
22 Reasons I Love My Wife & My Life With Her
1. For 22 years she has been my favorite person with whom to laugh. We had to offer many apologies through our college years to professors when we couldn’t hold it together in class, and we still have times when we giggle until the tears roll.
2. She has compassion. Her heart expands to embrace everyone who comes within her sight, reach and radar of life.
3. She is always growing and learning. Her zeal to learn and to grow in all areas of her life has kept her young and will always keep her young.
4. She is a brilliant mother. Hands down, I couldn’t imagine anyone else raising our boys and teaching them the wonder and worth of a woman and the life and actions of young men toward a woman.
5. She’s simply stunning. I know, I know… I married up. But marrying up is the joy and hope of all guys, yeah? One of my favorite things is when people come to me and say, “Your wife is just stunning!” And I’m all like nodding and just say, “Word.”
6. Teresa is fiercely loyal. I need the example. Often she remains so loyal to the people hurting her the most… she is her loyal self on all the best days and the worst. She’s a rock that the waves beat on but never wear away.
7. Her faith carries me when I’m tired. Years down the road, I can honestly say that she’s been at the center of our faith and faithfulness as a couple and a family.
8. I’ve loved our many homes around the world. We’ve never bought a house and we’ve moved a lot, from Texas to Alabama, to Africa and to Maryland… but we’ve never lacked a home. She makes us at home wherever we find ourselves.
9. That girl can cook! She can bake yummy stuff, make Thai curry and float me in the comfort food of chicken and dumplings. Yup.
10. She knows cool stuff… she’s like tech-savvy. She can build a website, design a logo, route RSS feeds and teach you to use a CMS. That’s just rad.
11. Her work ethic is like an A+. She works too much and works too hard. She sits most nights in the living room with her notebook open to either an online source she’s learning from or finishing projects.
12. She’s a smart lady. She’s got a college degree which she received Cum Laude, and she’s kept that sexy brain through the years. I love it!
13. Her nurturing ways with children are a blessing to watch. She’s smart and savvy and all that, but will also cradle a baby or teach a class like a champ. Her heart’s bumper sticker says, “I stop for kids.”
14. Her nurturing is for everyone. She doesn’t just nurture children, but she’s got a heart for all our friends, our homeless friends, friends with homes, and everyone in between.
15. I love to hear her sing. One of my early college memories is of her singing on stage, something about Birdland, I don’t know. But I do know that she blesses me with her voice and so often shares that gift with our church family with humility and joy.
16. She’s a brilliant artist. I love it when she paints, and she has technical skills that put me and many to shame.
17. She makes homemade soap. And I don’t mean melting and pouring stuff. I mean that she cooks lye and oils and makes the real deal, and she makes lotions too!
18. She knits. Do you the advantage we’ll have after the zombie apocalypse with her skills? We’ll be in freshly knit sweaters smelling like cloves and peppermint while the rest of you scrounge for scraps all Book of Eli style! Well, maybe we’ll share… I did mention her compassion, right?
19. Her inspiring tenacity. Teresa doesn’t give up on people, or give up at all. It’s a pinch of compassion with a cup of loyalty and a shake of nurturing spirit that serves up a boundless joy and optimism in her that carries so many of us along through the roughest of patches.
20. She’s my extrovert. If I hadn’t met Teresa I’d have been a desert hermit, without a doubt. She pulls me to parties and takes me out for drinks with friends. Thanks, babe.
21. She keeps me grounded and real. I tend to have some crazy ideas sometimes, and I always have to work hard to make sure I’m not starting a bunch of stuff and finishing little. She holds me to the tasks at hand and holds my hand when I’m angry, upset or depressed.
22. She listens to me. No matter what I want to talk about or how little she cares to know about it, she listens. When I’m right and when I’m wrong, she listens. When she agrees and when she disagrees, she listens. She let’s me share and feel valued.
Teresa, my love… I cannot imagine having lived the last 22 years without you. I refuse to live the next 22 (and more) without you. Love me always, please. I will love you! Tonight we’re going out for dinner with the boys, as we do on our anniversary each year. We’ll also go see the newest Hobbit movie, ’cause I’m just romantic that way. Our first date was Young Guns 2, remember. =)
Teresa, my first Christmas gift every year is this day, the 21st, the sweet reminder of how blessed I am to belong to you. May I be ever more deserving of you in the coming year. This will be my prayer. Amen and amen.
Advent Week Three For Web! Daily Devotionals Dec. 15-21, 2013!