Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves. She is friendly and happy. Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her “extra-special friend.” Several years ago Mattie and her husband moved from our city to a small town out of the state. Because I assumed that I’d never see her again, I didn’t pay much attention to the name of the city or the state. Mattie often called me with prayer requests.
She called when her cat was sick and later when her cat died. She called to let me know that she was sick and called often to ask for prayer for her farm animals. There was no doubt in my mind that Maddie was sincere and that these prayer requests were important to her. However, I didn’t pay much attention to her “simple” daily needs.
Last week Maddie called. It was Saturday morning. I was extremely busy and I had no intention of answering the phone. Yet, by mistake, I did answer. Calmly, Maddie said, “Linda, I need prayer.” This wasn’t a surprise. Maddie only called when she needed prayer. I expected to hear about a pig or a chicken that was sick. “Michael just died,” she reported without emotion.
“What, Hon?” I asked, “Who died?”
“Michael. Michael just died.”
“Are you talking about Michael? Your Michael?”
“Yes, my Michael, just died. The people from the morgue left a few minutes ago.” Her quiet composure shocked me. She continued, “Can you come to the funeral?”
I explained that I could not possibly come because I was going on a trip the next day and I’d be out-of-state for a little more than a week. I prayed for her and we hung up. After the phone call, I started to wonder in what state they were living. I called Maddie back and found out that she is in Tennessee–the state where I was visiting. “I can’t make any promises,” I told her, “but I may be able to attend Michael’s funeral.”
The town where she lives is about 30 minutes from the city where I was visiting. By the afternoon, the plans were made for me to get to the funeral. Maddie’s family was not at the funeral. There were only 12 or 13 people who attended. Half of them were construction workers who are building a new home for them. Maddie was Maddie. Of course, she was grieving her loss; but she remained friendly and happy to have the few people there who were able to attend.
I was struck by God’s tender mercies extended toward a young widow whose husband suddenly collapsed and died in front of her. It was an honor to be a part of the funeral for this brave young woman who suddenly lost her husband and best friend. There are many things that can be said about the intellectually disabled community. In counting their assets, their bravery is one virtue that often becomes valor. Maddie is finding the peace that only God can give in the middle of her loss. Additionally, she is showing the strong bravery that is often present in this unique and wonderful community.