People have done this to me all my life.  I had an uncle whose name was John and when he died I found out his real name was Howard.  I had an aunt named Vivian and when she died I found out her name was Luella.  I had a friend whose name was Gus and after a few years I found out his name was Norman.  There are others but you get my drift here.  The interesting way that people deal with names is indicative of something we feel we can change easily and yet the moniker we didn’t like ends up on the tombstone.  There is a finality that speaks of the “given” name having a lasting value that maybe we missed as we went about our life.

Her name was Emma which she obviously didn’t care for.  She also had the name Grace but I knew her as Carol.  She was one of those people that comes into your life and changes it in ways that you never thought about at the time but suddenly realize in later years were formative.  Carol was a volunteer at our church that worked with the small youth group that we had formed and put herself out in many ways to get us together and on task for whatever we were supposed to do or learn when we got together.  My out standing memory was gathering at her house with a small group of young people who back in the day where like young people now – we were clueless but thought that we were smarter than the adults around us and we treated them with respect that had a slight hint of condescension.  The things that we did often seemed strange and a bit boring but they had a purpose that was high and lofty which of course had to be spelled out for us.  I was one of those who felt that part of the high and lofty purpose of the gatherings was to at least show some appreciation to an adult who was willing to hang around with us.  As time went on I began to appreciate Carol for more than just being an adult.  She was willing to learn about things so that she could teach us about them and hopefully get us to care about them too,

One of my memories was the cutting of the tops of various boxes of some kind of kitchen products that we would send somewhere to receive credit that was used to send to the mission fields.  I was aware of missionaries but could not make the connection between them and box tops.  There was also a contest to see who could bring the greatest number of soup can labels for the same purpose.  At one of our gatherings one of the kids brought a whole bunch of labels that surprised all of us.  So exuberant was he about the contest that he removed the soup labels in his pantry before the soup had been consumed.  I know there was some frustration but eventually the family decided that the mystery was brought back into dinner time and there was good humor all around.

The big memory was the soap making.  We made soap for the missionaries and the people that they served and what I remember was the smell.  Somewhere in the process was lye and a really bad smell.  Carol had a bunch of safety glasses so we wouldn’t lose an eye and we boiled and melted lard and added lye and made soap.  It was an interesting job but through it all we learned about missionaries and some of the medical missionaries and what they did as well.  I was interested in mission work from that time onwards and now I am on the Board for International Missions and I can’t help but think of Carol or Emma or Grace.  Maybe Grace was the best name.

She died in hospice from Alzheimer’s.  Her funeral is tomorrow in Montrose Co.  Blessed be her memory.

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