friend, mentor and sister in the Lord. As we prepare for her services tomorrow, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what made her so amazing.
After Jesus there is nothing Miss Lorene loved more than her boys. I know this because she told me time and time again. I know this because I can not recall even one conversation that did not include a mention of her sons. I know this because as we shared prayer requests the only thing she ever specifically asked me to prayer for were her sons. Miss Lorene loved each of them more than life itself. I believe that love is what sustained her through so many of life's great challenges including divorce and cancer. Even in her last weeks I believe that love is what kept her alive as she struggled for each word and every breath.
Miss Lorene was proud of each of her children. She was proud of their families, their accomplishments and the honorable men they have become. Even though until recently I couldn't even tell the three of her boys apart, I knew each one and their families intimately through the stories Miss Lorene constantly shared. I learned many things from My dear friend and one of them was how to raise my own boys to be men of integrity and honor. I didn't know her family when they were growing up but I can tell by the love, respect and care they had for their mama that she did an amazing job of bringing them up under what must have been difficult circumstances.
And to her daughters-in-law I could say as much about them. Miss Lorene loved them. Every conversation had some bit about Leslie this or Leslie that. Through your relationships with Miss Lorene I learned both how to be a good daughter-in-law and a good mother-in-law. Thank you for loving my friend and being the daughters she never had. I know you were a blessing to her.
Miss Lorene loved me. My mom was not a big part of my life. And when I was 12 she left our family for good. I met Miss Lorene when I was 30 years old. We became fast friends because she hugged like my Italian family. One day she asked about my family and I shared that they weren't really involved in my life. Miss Lorene shook her head and said what a shame for them. She told me she would just have to be my mama then. One day shortly after her brother died and my baby had passed away I asked Miss Lorene how she was doing. She said she missed her brother. She asked me how I was doing. I told her I wished my mom was here. We had a cry together. Then, she put her arms around me and said she was sure God had saved her from cancer so she could be there to hug me when my mother wasn't capable of it herself.
True to her word she was always encouraging me, hugging me and rocking my babies. Recently as I was struggling through a very hard time Miss Lorene called to say she just felt led to pray for me and make sure I knew she loved me and she was proud of me. Through God's leading she knew just what I needed and when.
One day recently, she was talking to one of my daughters she said, "I always told my boys I would throw myself in front of a train to save them. Tell your mom that goes for her, too." And I believe she would have.
She and I had such good times together! Like when she tried to teach me to belly dance. She correctly stated that I stink! Yes, I loved her honesty and blunt way of speaking.
I will never forget the way she looked wearing a big pink brimmed hat and sipping tea in my garden.
Or the time she taught me how to make her famous banana pudding and gave me her top secret peanut brittle recipe. When I made her peanut brittle it was never as good as hers, which Miss Lorene had no problem telling me. I am sorry to say I will never be able to duplicate that wonderful recipe. But I will keep trying and always cherish the memories she gave me of times shared between a mother and daughter.
Among other lessons she gave me, Miss Lorene taught me to laugh through trials, there is always someone worse off than ourselves, to live every minute as if you have no other and to let the joy of Jesus rule your life. My life was richer because I knew Lorene Williamson.
My own dear grandmother suffered with Alzheimer's from the time I was in my early 20s and passed in 2003. Only two of my children ever met her and they were so young they don't remember her at all. I met miss Lorene when our 4th child was a newborn. From then on she would come over and spend entire days just rocking whoever the baby was at the time. Or sometimes she would tell me to bring the baby to her so she could rock him.
My children all loved their "Grandma Lorene" but my sons were particularly fond of her. After one
hospitalization they would ask us just about every day to take them to visit. Allen was concerned they would be far too much for her to handle at that time. When they finally did get to see her she was tickled and while I am sure their visit must have tired her, she never showed it while we were there.
My boys considered it a privilege and honor to help Miss. Lorene to her car each Sunday. As soon as we said the last "Amen" they would race to my side and ask permission to go carry her bags. And they were always rewarded with a kiss and hug.
Miss Lorene just couldn't help herself! One Sunday our typically quiet baby was so chatty. I finally carried Carmella out of the service. I couldn't figure out why she was so wound up. After worship Miss Lorene said, "I didn't mean to get her in trouble." When I asked what she was talking about she said she was making faces at her and blowing kisses and that's why Carmella was squealing and laughing.
My Sunday was always a little extra special if Miss Lorene was in church. In our crowded building sometimes it was hard to get over to her before service started. But that didn't stop her from letting me know she was glad to see me. She would sit in her seat waving and blowing kisses until she caught my attention. And, no, she didn't care a bit if Pastor was preaching or not. I liked that about Miss Lorene, too. She didn't wait to let you know she loved you... just in case. And she didn't care what anyone else thought. We would all do better to think like her.
Miss Lorene was generous with her praise. Just the same, she didn't hesitate to tell a person what they were doing wrong. It was never in a mean way but in a, "I love you and want you to be your best or your happiest," sort of way. She was just as quick to point out her own mistakes, too.
When I got my last Miss Lorene hug just before she died I knew she was so weak it was difficult to speak. But that didn't stop her from giving me one of her super "Like you mean it hugs." We agreed that we would see each other at the throne of God for another squeeze someday soon.
We have chosen to sing the song "They'll Be a Homecoming" for her service because we rejoice for Miss Lorene in her being reunited with all those who have gone on before. When I think of her dancing with all those special friends who've gone on already I can't wipe the smile off my face. Some people believe that all babies are grown up in Heaven. But if not, I can imagine Miss Lorene cradling our little one in her lap and rocking him as we never had the opportunity here on earth. I look forward to the glad and happy morning when we will all sing praises together.
What a Hallelujah Chorus... When the family gathers home!
"They'll Be A Homecoming"
How happy are the times when the family gathers home
and we see the loved ones we have missed so long
Then our hearts are made so sad
When we have to part again
But in Heaven there will be no parting song.
When we've said our last goodbyes
And our loved ones pass away
Still we know that someday we shall meet again
When we hear the trumpet sound and the Lord shall appear
Then the greatest family gathering will begin.
They'll be a homecoming
When the saints of all the ages gather around the throne
There'll be no parting ever
We'll sing glad praise together
What a Hallelujah meeting
When the family gathers home.
`Sydney and Cathy Coble
You can read more about Miss Lorene here:
Week 2 of 52
A Little of This and a Little of That
A Beautiful Service
Tea for Two