Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I went to a dear lady’s funeral this weekend in Sweetwater, TN. Millie Oates – I called her “Aunt Millie”. I now have a better understanding of  the verse in Psalms 116, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Here was a little “insignificant” woman, by many standards, who loved Jesus with all her heart and gave unselfishly to everyone she met. One of the most unselfish people I have ever known. And always positive and cheerful. She impacted so many people’s lives.
She knew me before I did! Ours is a 4-generation friendship. Her mother and my grandmother were friends in Montreat, NC., she and my mother were friends, her daughter and I are friends and our daughters are friends! Four generations! A treasure so few get to enjoy these days of transient lifestyles..
For a time she lived in my little town here in Virginia. She was my “guardian angel”. I loved having her near and I miss her presence in my life.
When I arrived on Friday late afternoon, many of her family were there and greeted me like a long-lost cousin. I was given a special gift – yarn crocheted coat hangers. A reminder of “Aunt Millie”, as I called her. As her health and mind failed her she did those hangers by the hour.
We all gathered at an Italian restaurant for dinner – they graciously included me and other friends who had come far. The restaurant was told 20 people – and the room held 55 – 80 crammed in! The staff handled it beautifully and the children never fussed or whined. There were introductions, stories, laughter, tears…love.
On Saturday, we gathered at 10 AM in a waning drizzle to bury the cask of her ashes. Her son-in-law made some remarks and prayed. Her youngest son brought the cask then kneeled down to lower it into the hole he, himself, had dug.  That was a very tender moment. (Many of her family members are buried nearby.)
When it was over, we stood around and talked. The children saw the pile of dirt from digging the hole and began to play in it…someone suggested they begin to fill the hole. It was precious and very fitting to see these toddlers take handful after handful to place in the hole of the grave of their great-grandmother. In the end, a grandson came and shoveled the rest of the dirt in and put the grass plug in place. So appropriate and really sweet.
Her service was just as sweet. The church was packed though, “Aunt Millie” has not lived there for some 20 odd years – a testament to how much she was loved in the community. A great-grandson played Jesus Loves Me on the violin, her favorite. He just learned it that morning and it was flawless. He was maybe 11 yrs. old! Another son-in-law read the scriptures.
Her oldest son gave memories of his mom.  A grand-daughter sang.
Her oldest daughter has very bad knees and held off surgery until her mom died. She had to climb very steep stairs every time she tended to her mom –  each step painful. But never complained. She  and her sister took very, tender loving care of their mother.
Her youngest son got up to give the message. He said he had to cut it short because of time – I spoke up from my pew and said, “We want it all.”  All there sounded agreement. But he did cut it short. He gave the plan of salvation short and simple. Then we sang “For All the Saints”.
Aunt Millie did not have much of the world’s goods. No fame or fortune. She was born on the mission field in Korea. She loved Jesus with all her heart and wanted everyone else to know Him, too. She left a very precious legacy to her family and friends. All who knew her are richer.
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