My good friend lost her mother-in-law recently, and the world lost a bright, kind, sassy lady who spent much of her life wondering why she was here:
What was her life's mission?
Maggie never went to college or had a career, though she worked for years as a legal secretary, ran a household, cooked and cleaned like nobody's business.
She didn't write a bestseller, but she read constantly, wrote poetry and loved to learn.
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She never traveled the world but she traveled a lot, mostly to favorite camping and fishing spots in Missouri.
Turns out Maggie, as family members shared at memorial services this week, was a wife, a mom and a grandma. That was her mission.
She filled Christmas stockings and mailed college care packages.
She sat in the grass, cuddled her children and stared at the clouds. When one would ask the sorts of questions children ask —"Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?" —she would laugh, shake her head and say, "I don't know."
She celebrated 50 years of marriage, an epic adventure, and grieved her husband soon after their golden anniversary.
She believed in loading the grandkids up with sugar and sending them home.
She implored everyone to "Drive safe."
She baked brownies, her grandkids remember, with pockets of flour that exploded in your mouth because she couldn't be bothered to stir that batter forever. She had better things to do.
During cancer treatments these past few years, Maggie noticed patients who had just been diagnosed, and she gave them her phone number in case they ever wanted to talk. Many did, and she listened.
She had fender-benders. She made mistakes. She got stuff right and she got stuff wrong. She laughed at herself and at life because really, what else can a person do?
As I sat at the rosary this week, listened to stories and remembered Maggie, I thought about all the wives, moms and grandmas who make the world better.
They're not doctors or presidents or nuclear physicists. They're not Martha Stewarts. They hold hands, wipe noses, tie shoes, dry tears, cook dinner, wash dishes, make beds, brush hair, read stories, kiss cheeks, wait up, hunker down, start over.
Their deaths don't make the front page, but, every day, their lives make a difference.
I guess my friend Margaret often doubted or wondered about her mission in life. But that mission was clear to me and to anyone who knew her.
And you know what, Maggie?