Once Upon a Time, a Boy Kissed a Girl and She Saw Stars

aron-920236_640In 1960, a boy kissed a girl in a small town in the smallest state and she saw stars.
Today, fifty-four years later, he said good-bye as she took her place among the stars who wait with Jesus for the rest of us.
Seated at the funeral of this woman I didn’t know, was like being privileged to glimpse our future arrival in heaven when all our works will be judged.
I think most of us will find that day mildly disorienting at first
until we get our bearings and remember that the standards for reward in heaven
are wildly different than they were here on earth.
Today was the perfect illustration of this truth.
On earth, most people probably walked past this woman without a second thought.
She’ll never be featured as one of the fifty most influential women or receive an award for her accomplishments in her career, or in the arts, or in public service.
But crowded into the church pews were four generations of men, women, and children who, one by one testified that this woman made them feel welcomed and loved every day of her life.
Her husband honored her first – he was funny, quiet-spoken, and sweet.
Then her grown daughters, her sons, one son-in-law, and several grandchildren.
They read scripture and poetry, they told stories, showed photos, they wept and laughed and spoke to her as though she was seated there among us still.
They testified to a woman who was a wife and mother first.
The kind of woman immortalized by Norman Rockwell and nowadays, too often, mocked and lampooned by a modern culture, which has no appetite for things of eternal worth.
She cooked, cleaned, nagged children and grandchildren into attending church service and Sunday school, played cards, watched Wheel of Fortune, and had an open kitchen/open living room policy with all she called family.
She was a patriot with a flagpole on her front yard and she was happiest when the tiny local parade marched past her lawn chair each year. From there she watched her husband and sons march in military uniform or dressed as volunteers in the local fire department and ambulance corps, and grandsons walking with the scouts.
It was a simple life.
She taught her daughters to love their husbands and keep their homes. She prayed when her husband went out on fire calls or her sons went off to service. She took a secretarial job once, something just for her, but loving God and her family topped her To Do list every day.
This quiet, humble faithfulness will be the Academy Award winner of heaven.
Not the praises of the accomplished, the achieved, the well-known, but the steadfast love of those who lived every day as if they were exactly where God intended them to be, loving those around them without reservation.
These will be the honorees on an eternal stage.
Shirley suffered with Alzheimer’s for the last ten years of her life. Gradually, she lost herself but her family never lost sight of Shirley.
Her husband, George, cared for her at home for six of those ten years and through the final four, in a nursing home, George was there every day, acting as the voice of the woman he loved.
George’s son-in-law said, with quivering chin, that tomorrow the world will honor and celebrate as heroes men who toss a football and play a game
But today, he asked, that we honor a true hero. A quiet man who kissed a girl, vowing to love her in sickness and in health, and who kept that vow to the very end without complaint.
As I sat there, sitting among people who don’t look like celebrities or superstars, I felt transported to that greater stage
surrounded by the crowd of witnesses in heaven
and I remembered how much I have to learn about love.
What other subject merits our single-minded devotion?
In the academy of excellence in love, Shirley would be Dean of Students with a PhD in faithfulness.
Today, my education in love was advanced several light years by this celebration of a wife and mother who loved well and received love in return.
If what Timothy says is true, that “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”(Timothy 1:5)
well, then, Shirley Sherman from a small town in the smallest state who kissed a boy and saw stars and then raised a family filled with love hit the mark.

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    The Conversation

  1. tina hunt says:

    This was not only challenging, but also very touching. Thank you. In a few weeks Nelson and I will celebrate our 35th anniversary….I hope our love story will inspire others.

  2. The BearPair says:

    Don’t have a clue who Shirley was, but we agree–she’s a superstar in heaven, as she was on earth. What a treasure… and your tribute to her is brilliant! Thanks Lori!

  3. Enriching to remember that God’s standards are faith and love, so much higher than the world’s.

    Challenging to remember that God’s standards are the ones to pursue.

    Thank you.

  4. Lori, this was a wonderful essay. And so very true! Glad that you could honor one of God’s saints. Today my husband conducts the memorial service of our pastor emeritus and dear friend, so this was timely for me. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I, too, loved George’s comment that Shirley told him she “saw stars” when they kissed for the first time. 53 years of marriage, all the ups and downs of life, and George rejoicing that she’s now at rest. He’s confident she’s heaven bound. He kept his vows so quietly no one would have noticed in this busy world. But in eternity, it has been noticed. Not many funerals surround you with love, laughter, and peace. This one did. You wrote it as clearly as it happened. MOMMA

  6. Pam Manners says:

    Oh my dear…this is so beautiful!!! People like George and Shirley are whom we should hold in high esteem, whose stories we should delight to tell over and over and pass along to future generations, and whom we should aspire to be like. Not today’s society’s celebrities and heroes du jour.

    Smiling through my tears…

  7. Cherrilynn says:

    A beautiful testimony. Thank you, Lori Your love story made me think of the name of God El Roi Our God sees. Even in the littlest town of the littlest state.