Just got in to my hometown this evening. I'm here for another funeral.
Seems I've had to go to lots of these lately. Don't much care for that.
Anyway, Wednesday is Martha's funeral. Martha died this past weekend. She was 59.
Let me tell you about Martha.
I met her through her sister. Martha always called her "Sissy." And her Sissy was hired as Minister of Education at the big Baptist church in my home town. Baptists say they were "called." But in any other job, it'd be "hired."
Still, the call came to Martha's Sissy to be Minister of Education.
Sissy came to the job with lots of excitement. And stayed a long time at the job. She outlasted lots of preachers.
Of course, at a Baptist church, they'll change preachers at the drop of a hat. I remember hearing one person express dissatisfaction at one preacher because his tie was too wide. No, really.
But Martha's Sissy stayed on the job. She worked with some good preachers ... and put up with several more.
Martha grew up in Mississippi (Greenwood, I think), but came to visit with Sissy on occasion. When their mother came to live with Sissy, Martha came to live there around that same time. And that's when we got to know Martha lots better.
Martha enjoyed life. She was always ... well, most of the time, anyway ... happy. When she'd see me, she'd run up and hug me, saying "There's my Buddy!"
When I was deployed overseas in the Army, she would ask others when her Buddy was coming back. And when I got back, she'd run up and hug me, "You're back! My Buddy's back!"
Since Martha and her Sissy didn't have family in Georgia ... they were from Mississippi, I think I mentioned ... and certainly none in my home town, they were pretty much part of our family.
At Christmas, when we bought presents to go under the tree, there'd be presents for Martha and her Sissy. Because they were family.
During Sissy's long career as Minister of Education at the big Baptist church in my home town, she expanded the special ministries program. Actually, she created it from scratch.
I remember somebody said one time -- as a criticism of Sissy -- that she had the church footing the bill for a program "for someone like Martha." You see, Martha had Down Syndrome. And a few folks ... well, let's just say some folks didn't share Martha's accepting attitude of other folks.
Now, let consider that question: did Sissy create a program at the church just for Martha?
I don't know. Sissy may well have dedicated her life to Christian ministry and education even if Martha had not had Down Syndrome.
But let's suppose for a minute that Sissy's critics were right. Let's say Sissy did start a program on account of Martha.
That program grew. Young and old, who needed a program like that in my home town, finally had one.
And the program expanded. A ministry for the deaf was started. Other ministries of those with special needs were begun ... and many had their needs addressed ... or met ... by the programs ... for the first time.
So, if the harshest critics of Martha's Sissy were right, Martha and her Sissy were responsible for some wonderful things in my home town. If the critics were right, Martha's life touched hundreds in a town of a few thousand.
We should all be so fortunate.