My wife’s mom finished her race this past Sunday.

I have a disdain for hyphenated adjectives and nouns to describe people so I won’t refer to her as my mother-in-law.  Mom, as she was known to her five children, was a spirited and loving woman.  Broken parts and all she was loved by her husband, three sons and two daughters.  As a testimony to that love all five of her children are deeply loving and caring people that I am honored to consider family.  They each run well.

She was also known as “TaTa.”  After all these years I have to confess that I have no idea what that means.  I am after all the first of many gringos to have married into this Brazilian brood.  My fellow gringo “in-laws” have joked at times of forming a support group for one another but we’ve procrastinated as good gringos do.  From my understanding TaTa was simply keeping  good Brazilian hospitality by welcoming all of us fair-skins into her family.  (Great! now I’m back to the hyphenated words!)

She leaves behind ten grandchildren – four of which I’ve yet to meet –  to go with the five children.  They will grow up hearing the tales of the passionate princess who rode the wind on her furious hair… or something like that.  They will certainly inherit and learn of her great love for God.

My experience of Mom was a mixed bag.  She could be a loose canon and we’d all be on egg shells waiting to see how she would respond to the stresses of  the holidays or weddings when all the family would be together.  Other times she was capable of the tenderest of mercies towards the lowliest of people.  She also had a prophetic streak to her that would flare up at times and that fit well with her pentecostal tendencies.  She loved church.

Augustine said “it is better for the human heart to be healed when it grieves, than to become inhuman by not grieving.”  To lose your mother is to break a deep place in your heart that pours out a torrent of emotion and grief.  I’ve seen that in the grieving of my extended family and I feel it in my own soul.  The Man “of sorrows” is nearer and he is “familiar with suffering.”

My favorite poet George Herbert is quoted as saying “Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener.”  What a vibrant and fruitful renovation she will be!

Lord of Life,  you were merciful to give us Terezinha.  You were gracious to have our lives intersect in the course of providence.  You were loving in taking her to yourself.  May I be so bold to ask that you pour out your mercy, your grace and your love all the more on my friends as they mourn.