“The back door is always open, so just come on in…” Marge said. And that’s what we did, and everyone else who knew her. It was always a quick rap on the door, and a “Hellllooo!” or “Are you decent?” and in would come friends, neighbors, and even the mail man who was completely deaf. He laid his hand on Marge’s shoulder and there was a bond one doesn’t always see, but I guess the “card lady” probably would be on good terms with her post man. And that is essentially my friend, Marge.
You all read about Marge in Saving Marge and her valiant battle against leukemia. Well, just this past Thursday, my friend went to her heavenly home. I was blessed along with many others to have that back door always open and her daughter always welcoming us to stop in and see her all the way to the very last hours.
Marge transcended generations, though she was a very active and personable and refreshing octogenarian. She was relevant whether she was talking to a twenty year old, or a 40 something, or someone like me, in the midst of my 50s or a person well past her age. She was the Matron of Honor at her daughter’s wedding, that’s pretty darn relevant. Marge knew how to work a room, she could bring out the best in someone in a question or two or observation. I remember her telling me early on that she loved to watch my husband and me in church together. She said by seeing us she knew we were deeply in love, a love that would last a lifetime. And, snap, just like that, I had a lifelong friend, because I believed her, and my hubby loved her for her insight, too. She got us.
In churches, well, things get messy, satan never works harder than he does in a church, but somehow, Marge was always in the midst of it all, without being in the conflict. She rose above the differences in every occasion that I can recall and was completely neutral and I feel to this day that it was because she loved everyone and felt that conflict was not a bad thing, it was good, it answered hard questions, and required honesty and when it was said and done, it brought peace, even if the peace was a little ragged around the edges.
Marge sent cards, and post cards, that were quite frankly indecipherable. Her handwriting stunk, but the thought behind each word you could read spoke volumes about her interest in each person. Sometimes, she’d mention how cute my new haircut was, or how good it was to see Ricky and Bethani in church. She’d mention things that just showed that she cared, and she did care, she cared very much for everyone.
And Marge loved to kiss on the mouth. She’d lay one on you — none of these air kisses or even cheek kisses — she’d zero in on your lips and give you a good smackaroo, and you felt kissed and loved in a way that no other person could make you feel. It transcended friendly kisses to a level of sheer love, it really did and I loved being kissed by Marge. I know everyone did.
When I saw her the night before she passed away, we talked to her and rubbed her head, and she’d raise her eyebrows like she was listening, but could no longer summon the strength to speak, something I never thought would happen, because as the header shows, she loved to Sit Long and Talk Much (as a sign in her dining room declared.) Even still, as my friend, Janet and I told her it was time to go, she puckered up and we gave her kisses, many kisses. I long to give her more now, just lay one on her.
Losing Marge, well, it’s hard. It hurts on a deep level of human-ness. It hurts like a toe that’s been stubbed or a belly ache or a smashed finger. It hurts like a toothache. It’s painful losing someone who seemed in this past year to even transcend death. It’s like a crushing heart ache, that catches your breath in short, messy sobs.
This is what I am thinking when that ache comes, I’m saying to her in heaven, “Oh our sweet Margie, our dear mentor extraordinaire, our love buddy, our laugh buddy, our talk until we’re hoarse buddy. I believe when you entered the Kingdom, the Lord said, ‘Look, Marge, look at what you leave behind. And you looked and you saw scores of joyful faces and hearts full of faith because of the seeds you planted. And the Lord will say, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant, come rest with Me.'” And I see you full of life, glowing with joy and health, and the ache lessens just a bit, as it seeps from behind my eyes and slides down my cheeks.
I love you Marge, one day, I pray I will be like you. Until then, I will use your example in my own life as always. I promise to kiss everyone on the mouth in your honor and I even started today in church, I will continue because I will be thinking, “This is how Marge would kiss you, so now I must kiss you on the mouth, too.”
Marge, I will not let a moment pass or a kiss or hug pass or a reason to comment on something about someone right at the moment I think it, so that they will look at me and say, “That’s something Marge would have said.” And I will smile and say, “Yes, yes it is.”
Because you live here, in my heart, and in the hearts of a million others, and that’s a conservative estimate. We will carry on because you want us to, and you want us to live by example that even satan could not trample, and we will. We will. I pinky swear promise, my dear friend, Margie. I pinky promise that we will, because we love you, Marge, and always will till we meet again.