She never met a person with whom she wasn't eager to make conversation in order to find some common ground. When she was hospitalized late in 2011 due to shortness of breath, one of her first stops was radiology, where she met a young man, name of Hernando.
The next thing you need to know about my Mama is that random things would often cause her to break into song. Having met Hernando, an old tune kept running through her memory, and it nearly drove her to distraction that she could not remember the words so that she might sing it to Hernando. This was especially important to her because apparently, Hernando himself had never heard of such a song existing.
I don't know how much time passed before she had the mystery solved, but as was her wont, from the moment that tune popped into her head until she found someone who knew the words it would have been the only thing on her mind.
Thank goodness, then, for this guy. His name is Jack Horner (and that's his amazing wife Gayle there, beaming in the background.) Jack has been Minister of Music at my church for 20 years, and this photograph was taken today at a retirement reception held for him after church.
Where does he fit into the Great Hernando Narrative? Well, as it happens, he paid a visit to my Mama in her Intensive Care room, sometime after Mama began worrying over the lyrics to that tune. Jack, who it seems knows everything about every genre and era of music, launched into singing the song in its entirety to my Mama, right there in the middle of the intensive care unit.
I wasn't there when this happened, but when she related it to me some hours later, there was such delight in her voice and on her face. In the days that followed she received a terminal diagnosis, and also lost her ability to speak because the cancer that was killing her made her unable to breathe on her own. It is not stretching credulity one bit to think that in a very true sense, that visit from Jack gave her one of her last genuinely happy moments.
I've told Jack this story, told him that although I know the other "real" ministers visited her, nothing they said or shared or did while they were there caused such a gleeful report, and in fact, I don't recall that she ever remarked on their visits, although I know she held them in her heart and gratitude.
You see, there is more than one way to minister to the heart and mind and soul of a hurting person. Jack sang to Mama from the Broadway Hymnal that day, and the elements of that communion were rhythm and rhyme in tango time.
May every blessing of retirement find its way to Jack and Gayle. I hope they find time to dance a little. I know a tune.....