I’d like to introduce my Aunt Becky, my dad’s kid sister. We were only 10 years apart in age, and I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid. My parents once convinced me to take a nap because “Aunt Becky takes naps” – and suddenly it was okay. As kids, my cousins and I loved to go to Becky’s house, for it was there that you could help her make cookies, eat all the dough you wanted and then have cookies and Coke for breakfast the next morning. It was “our little secret!” Becky always brought her particular brand of joy and fun to any setting, and we loved to be around her. If you were with Becky, you were having fun!
On June 8, 2008, I was happily packing for a trip to Chicago with my two aunts (Becky and Jana) and my cousin’s wife. Then the call came in that Becky had just been rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be a malignant brain tumor, and we were plunged into the turmoil of a terminal illness that would end Becky’s life less than four months later at the age of 56. So many at Greenville Oaks offered up prayers for her and for our whole family as we navigated our way down this path we would not have chosen, and we will be forever grateful.
Friends and family members rallied to help out with Becky’s care, and I had the opportunity to be there (in California) two different times during her illness and was with her as she left this life. I can honestly say I will never be the same. I was humbled and amazed at the unbelievable outpouring of love and support I saw while I was there. It quickly became apparent that the joyful spark that Becky had always brought to our family was not limited to us. She had brightened the lives of countless people she came in contact with, and they turned out in droves to sit by her bedside, to hold her hand, to bring food and to minister to all of us. Even her husband had had no idea of the scope and variety of lives Becky had touched.
It reminds me of the story of Dorcas in Acts 9 beginning in verse 36 – “In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (translated Dorcas) who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died . . . “ Peter was summoned . . . “and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing Dorcas had made while she was still with them.”
This was my Aunt Becky – she always had a gift or a smile or a joke (or a candy bar!) at the ready. She savored each moment of her life and did not miss an opportunity to spread joy. We had to move her memorial service to the First Baptist Church down the street from her home because their home church could not accommodate the number of guests who were expected. My uncle received a letter from the minister there afterward saying that Becky’s memorial was the largest service they had ever held at their facility. It says something about your character when your dry cleaning ladies come to your visitation and funeral and cannot quit crying. The receptionist at the car repair shop took off work to come. One of Becky’s closest friends was her housekeeper – how often does that happen? And this sweet lady was among the friends and family surrounding Becky’s bed as she passed away. On one of our girl trips to Washington DC, I found myself on the shoulders of a strange man at the Vietnam Memorial. Why? Becky had promised her mailman she would get a rubbing of the name of one of his childhood friends who had died in that conflict. How many of us even know the NAME of our mailman? One time, right before Christmas, Becky’s younger son, Scott, told her that his friend had no place to go for the holiday and asked if he could spend it with them. By that evening, that young man had a stocking by the fireplace and presents under the tree (which Scott suspected had originally been his and Becky just changed the name!). That’s just how Becky was. She had a big heart, she had a tender heart. She cried so much at my wedding that Mike’s relatives decided she must have been one of his old girlfriends!
It was said that Becky’s infectious laughter echoed down the halls where she worked as a school secretary. The crossing guard at the school wrote: “Becky never had to think twice about asking how your day was, or giving you a hug, slipping you a piece of chocolate from her stash, or telling you a joke. She had an air about her that you don’t see these days. It was like she was born with this magical power to make everyone around her happy! She always made you feel like you were the only one that mattered at that moment. Becky was truly the most loving person I’ve ever met. Even today, she reminds me to show my love to others and always take time to smile.”
Becky had what she called her “magic closet” at work. If a child or coworker was hurt or upset, she would pull out her crown and wand to magically cheer them up. If that didn’t work, perhaps a leprechaun hat would!
I will always miss that beautiful smile and one-of-a-kind laugh, but Becky’s legacy lives on in the lives she touched and brightened. The chorus of a song by Nichole Nordeman sums it up well:
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough, (Jesus)
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering,
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.
May we never get too busy to let our light shine in this dark world!
Posted on Sun, January 17, 2010
by Gaynell Kellum