Thank You, Mrs. T

It is so strange when I awaken suddenly from a dream and there are tears coming down my face. It does not happen often. I rarely remember my dreams, and I don’t remember the one from last night fully, but what I do remember is so vivid.

As a teenager, in the early 1980s, I lived in a very small North Carolina town. How small was it? One stop light small. At the time there was probably a population of about a thousand people in that town, most of whom were related to one another in some way. Having moved there when I was 11, we were kind of the outsiders who had come late to the party—related to no one.

We attended the Methodist church in town and my brothers and I were very active in the UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) there. Our leaders were a couple by the name of Jim and Holly T., who had a young family of 4 children, and then they added one more during my youth group tenure. These two graciously volunteered their time to work with us kids. I have always had a close relationship with my parents, but there was also something incredibly special about Miss Holly. We all called her Miss Holly, as is the Southern tradition some places, or Mrs. T. Some kids even called her Mama T, as she was a mother to all the youth. All the youth group kids loved her and Mr. T and we all knew we were welcome at their home any time. It was a safe place. My time in UMYF and with Mr. and Mrs. T is filled with wonderful memories.

Mrs T, her kids, and Me October 1986

After my junior year of high school, my family moved out of state. I didn’t see Mrs. T for a few years until I was about to get married in 1989. She attended my bridal shower and she brought me a cast iron frying pan and an apron. Not just any old apron she had gone out and bought, but an apron that was hers, from her kitchen, from her heart. It was nothing fancy, but you could tell it had been handmade and used by her and worn in her kitchen as she went about lovingly preparing things for her family and her “other kids”, like me and so many others. I still have that apron and I use it occasionally and every time I put it on, I think of that sweet woman. It is like having a piece of her.

I was married and moved away and her family also moved from that town and we lost touch after that. But she has always held a special place for me.

Then, in early 2007 , when we were living in Iowa, I received word that Mrs. T had passed away from pancreatic cancer. It had taken her quickly, as pancreatic cancer often does, and I learned of it after the fact. Sadly, I never got the chance to tell her how much she meant to me and that I loved her.

I had not thought of her in a long time but recently, I reconnected with Mr. T on Facebook. And maybe that is why Mrs. T appeared in my dream last night.

In this dream, I was standing in a convenience store parking lot. It was no specific convenience store from my past, just a random one, and standing with me were a couple of other kids from the youth group days. And then suddenly, there was Mrs. T standing in front of me with that wonderful smile of hers and that throaty laugh. I grabbed hold of her and hugged her so tight. As I hugged her, I said, “I miss you” and tears began to stream down my face.

And then I sat straight up in my bed, awake, and crying.

What I remember most about her is her infectious smile,  her joy for life and her always open arms. And her always loving on all those kids. And I miss her.

Thank you, Mrs. T. I know your reward was great when you met Jesus face to face.

Thank You by Ray Boltz

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name.
We turned and saw a young man running
And he was smiling as he came.

And he said, “Friend you may not know me now.”
And then he said, “But wait,
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

Then another man stood before you
And said, “Remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn’t have much money,
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed.

And I know up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said, “My child, look around you.
Great is your reward.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

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