To Heaven They Go

It is an unlikely pair, but pretty much in tandem, they both went to heaven this past week.

Billy Graham and Mary McCurdy

You know, I don’t talk about religion in a way that says, you need to believe this. It has never been my idea of a good time to put someone or what they believe down. Belief and faith and all things God, are very personal. Even if you don’t believe in God, that is personal, too.

I happen to believe in God and Jesus because … well, it is complicated. Oh, that is not so. It is actually simple. I just do. It is because I believe in a divine power and in goodness. God is the divine power and Jesus, represents kindness, love, and God on earth.

Please don’t get my beliefs confused with religion. That tends to be where the hierarchy of my thoughts are right and yours are wrong and my religion is the true religion, turn into wars and rotten scrambled eggs and egos and judgement.

But that is just me and what I have seen and experienced.

Yesterday, Billy Graham’s cortège drove on the roads we somethings drive, and passed through uptown Charlotte, on its way to the Billy Graham Library and birthplace.

This is Billy Graham land. Perhaps it was more so before Charlotte grew. Mr. Graham ne the Charlotte of almost a hundred years ago.

Did I know Billy Graham? No. But did I know what he believed and some of the things he accomplished? Yes.

I know that I saw him on television and he didn’t scare me, not like other evangelists with slick hair and twangy voices who, in my mind, elieved in the church of Let’s Make A Buck.

When I was younger and still not sure what I believed, every once in a while I might see a Billy Graham Crusade. I was mesmerized by the throngs of people and Graham’s powerful and passionate presence and sermon. But what really impacted me was when he called people forward to accept Christ.

I wanted to charge right through that TV screen and get in line. It seemed so wonderful and grand and that if you did that, you would have the answer to all of life’s problems.

Yessirreebob, how that would have helped me in my life.

But my route to beliefs wasn’t that simple or quick.

It was years and years before I would know my God, my Jesus and my faith. But for those who answered the call through Billy Graham, which included paupers to presidents, Amen.

He went to heaven this week. I just know.

Mary McCurdy, my dear friend of 100, also left us for a better place, where people dance, where flowers in their hair, costume jewelry, rings on every finger, and Western boots.

As I have written about, I met Mary at church. Fellowship Chapel, where the majority of the twenty-some members were of a certain age … old.

The pastor died at 91 or so.

But Mary and I clicked like we were best friends … forever. It wasn’t a good Sunday unless she was there and looking for me, and I, looking for her.

We began seeing each other outside church. I’d her at her house in Lebanon. I would take her to Frisch’s and we would talk about everything.

Mary was widowed. She had no children. But boy, did she have friends. I heard about Doc and Lori and Donna and her sister, Dalene, and others.

She loved my novel and bought copies for her friends and she enjoyed my artwork so, that I had a book made with many of my paintings, and gave it to her.

Our senses of humor were similar, and not always above board. And we would crack ourselves up.

When I had my Jeffersonian dinners where I gathered 12 women who I knew but weren’t friends with each other, for dinners where we should discuss issues, I invited Mary.

She was the star. She held court and with her droll sense of humor, regaled us with stories that made us laugh like a hen house on Bravo.

Mary knew life. She knew people and she knew herself.

After she got a bad case of shingles, she had to move to a nursing home.

She didn’t mover there to die, like many of the people. She just changed addresses and needed a bit of help. But she still lived.

Mary lived until she died.

I have never had anyone so glad to see me, as Mary. Pie in hand, I’d go to the nursing home and down to her room that had a loveseat, chair, computer on a desk and her keyboard. Oh, and a closet jammed with great clothes, shoes and her boots.

Sometimes, she wanted to whack a few of the people at the home. She did impressions of them. As I said, we weren’t always PC. But we were real.

Miss Mary went to heaven, this past week. I hope Billy Graham gets to meet her up there. She would give him a laugh. Mary had her crusade. It was called living life to you change addresses … and beyond.

The world will miss Billy Graham. I will miss Mary McCurdy.



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