She was 99 years old. A beautiful and bright smile met me most every Sunday. I entered the sanctuary with expectation of her presence. There she would sit second row back on the lectern side. She and I were pew buddies. I would enter the sanctuary and place my things in the floor beneath the pew and turn and there she would be sitting.
Wise in her years, warm and loving with her smile. Her small and fragile hands bent with the years would lift to grasp mine in a greeting. I would lean down and embrace her, I can still smell the familiar scent that was Miss Pepper.
She would at times reach up and place her hands upon my cheeks and look into my face. You knew that she loved you, I knew that she loved me. I will miss her more that words can express.
As sometimes happens the flesh is weak, her body failed her and the years began to take there toll. I would enter the sanctuary and find her place empty. Her loved ones would report the changes and decline in heath and mobility that simply made trips from the assisted living facility impossible. I had to settle for substitute hugs and reports on how she was doing.
I have to praise God for how amazingly beautiful this saint of faith. She was a true example of grace, wisdom and the love of Christ. I never once saw her without a smile on her face or a hug and a kiss offered to me.
Then sadly one day she was not there, then again and again.
I am familiar with that kind of waiting. You sit by the bedside and you are torn between wanting to selfishly keep them with you and wondering how much longer the lingering and suffering was to last. You watch as the breathing slows and the body draws up. It truly is a blessing and a curse.
Then that moment of the very last breath comes and you recognize that at the very moment you have been in the presence of Jesus. He has just come and ushers the one you love home.
So I grieve for Miss Pepper’s family and I grieve for myself. I know they will miss her terribly. I will miss her. I will miss that precious sweet smile and the gentle touch of her hand upon my cheek.
My pew buddy is now free from the earthly body that failed her and has taken up her eternal place with her new pew buddy Jesus.
I want to be like her when I grow up!
PR 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained by a righteous life.