I woke up this morning to read a Facebook post from a friend that brought me great sorrow, as a notice of death typically will. Not a relative, or even a close friend. But a saint had passed, and it saddened me.
The rest of the story first…
When mom came to live with us in 2016, we faced a variety of challenges. It’s not easy being the lord of the manor when your mother is in the manor. But we overcame the close living quarters, the overlapping lives, the differences of schedules – she had to eat dinner at 5:30 or she would walk around saying things like “Are you going to let me starve?” I wasn’t, of course, and she knew it.
Mom had always gone to church, specifically a small, very traditional Baptist church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. That was her biggest loss from the move. We tried taking her to a few, but no deal – contemporary services were not her gig. We walked into Falling Water Baptist and she knew it was where she wanted to be. It had a steeple, wooden pews, stained glass, and that smell that all old Baptist churches tend to have. Not a bad smell, mind you, but the smell of comfort. Plus, they had a well-attended Women’s Class, maybe a couple dozen of her peers, that were ready to welcome and love her, and right now!
But this is not about my mom, it is about one of those ladies, Elda Wilkes, in that class, who befriended my mother.
We sat behind Jim and Elda Wilkes routinely. They were as kind and gracious as humans get, without agenda or malice towards anyone. Pillars of the church comes to mind, and they had been there for many years, serving, worshipping, loving as if it came naturally to them.
But really, Falling Water was not a good fit for me or for Diana. A sweet place, an authentic place, but just not what we were used to. So, we started dropping Mom off as we searched for where we needed to be. And that’s when Jim & Elda rose to the occasion. They live just down the street from us, so they offered to pick Mom up and take her to church. And that is exactly what they did, plus lunches and other activities, until my mom got sick and passed away.
And I shared that to say this.
Jim left this world yesterday after a brief illness but a good, long life. He and Elda had been married 64 years, been many places, done many things, always together. They were the epitome of the word couple, incomplete without each other, a matched set and a shining example of what two individuals can be when they become one.
I can only imagine what that loss must be like.
As people of faith, and in the sunset of their life, they knew the day would come as it does for every one of us. Jim is in the place he believed in, hoped for, longed for, united with his Creator for all eternity. But Elda is left to finish her journey on her own.
Good people, Jim and Elda. The very definition of, and fine examples of, humanity, of lives well lived, a long love pure and strong. I did not know them well or long, but I knew their hearts and felt like we were part of the same family. Jim and Elda impacted my life and left an impression on me of what love, real love, is all about.
God speed, Jim Wilkes. And God bless you, Elda, and may He fill your days ahead with comfort and peace.
“And the two shall become one flesh” Ephesians 5:31