Myra (Kleis) Berry defied every stereotype of “mother-in-law”. We developed a unique relationship defined by our shared love of God, Jill, and our families. And we loved playing hymns on the piano, quoting Bible verses which the hymns brought to mind. We were soulmates. On the night she died, I turned on my streaming music service which played Amazing Grace, followed by When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. Now who do you suppose selected that song sequence? Thanks for the confirmation, Myra.
I keep in my Bible a card which Myra sent to me ten years before her death. It bears the signature of “Space & Mare”, nicknames for my parents-in-laws. Beneath her signature she wrote Romans 5:1-2. She read her Bible through, cover to cover, many times. I believe she made me a custodian of these verses so that I could send the words as reminders to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, whom she loves so dearly, about the source of her abiding faith: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
This Mother’s Day weekend, as the ‘Berry Women’ gather together to remember the Grand Ol’ Mare, they will, I hope, connect through the Spirit with Myra, gaining some mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won. (For the record, I am singing our favorite hymn lyric with Myra right now.)
If Mother’s Day offers us anything, it offers a chance to recast memories in words that heal, in words that help our mothers abide with us, as Myra could sing from memory until her new birth day:
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Hold thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies: Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Thank you for the love, Myra. I love you too. I’ll be there soon. Say hello to everyone for me.