To Mrs. Scott

Jill and I moved to Miami to be youth minister at University Baptist Church in Coral Gables.  The kittens learned to respect the iguanas in the trees.  The electric company came to cut back the ficus from the electric lines every nine months.  The services were translated into Spanish and Patois and our staff reflected that composition, and Mrs. Scott was one of my Sunday School teachers.

Her first name was Mrs.  for all of her students, and that went for me as well.  The dress and address were both regal. Formal but not stuffy or priggish or feigned. She had a ready smile and cool wit, and she and Mr. Scott were that evanescence we know as Jamaican. Coping with challenges in life was built-in, and even when the laugh lines around the eyes were getting a work out from a good life, she somehow conveyed that gravitas, which communicated she chose to laugh, chose to believe, even after having seen life.

Mrs. Scott’s children were reserved and brilliant.  Except for Jonathan who was one part ADHD before we knew the term, one part Robin Williams, two parts anywhere from the BeeGees to Hank Williams to Madonna, one part Billy Graham, and all of it kindled such that he appeared to have his hair on fire, even when calmly talking to you face-to-face.

Many, many a girl measured this Scott, and not a few took his measure with great hope, but there was a girl name of Kathleen, and if she chased him it was with a stunning shyness that entwined him and drew him to her.  Effortlessly.

When Jill and I left Coral Gables, I left the youth ministry in Jonathan’s and Wes’ hands, and expected the announcement of their marriage, and were devastated at the news of her MS.  Devastated alongside an entire church reeling with a second pastor’s wife with the dread prognosis.

Could Jonathan have had a larger music career if he had travelled more?  Undoubtedly. Could he have had a larger speaking career if he had spent more time on the road?  Assuredly.  But with the rock-solid resolution of the first Mrs. Scott, Jonathan stayed close to the second Mrs. Scott until last week.

She is Home, now.

Sigourney Weaver made a choice a few decades back.  She was looking at her mantle and wondered if she would want more Oscars on there or pictures of the grandkids.  She stayed home for the kids and grandkids.

Jonathan’s and Kathleen’s kids will be able to put the pictures of their parents together on their mantles and say the mystical, magical incantation with just that Jamaican lilt,  “And she loved him with her dying breath, and he no less.”

Hellos across the worlds

Hi, Melinda.

You fought MS longer, better, more courageously than any other soul I know.

Your kids continued to grow stronger, taller, truer.  They pursued differing paths than any of us would have guessed when you were first diagnosed.  The grand kids are all taller, stronger and a little above average.  Your genes and spirit make them vibrant.

Your home was safe sanctuary for us in Miami.  Dan could come and go, but the anchor was in place, was secure because you were there.

When Dan told us that after the diagnosis so, so long ago that the two of you just returned to the car and held each other and cried and cried — I  instantly had the image — of hundreds, no thousands standing around that car.  All of us weeping or wiping tears.  Some holding each other, but all of us thinking that this disease, this test, this curse had hit us all.  And we silently held up our question to God, “Why her?”

You have answered that question fully, now, I know.  That is ancient, one world back history now, I know.  But I wanted to say it to simply say, “Thank you.”

Melinda, you made mother, friend, sister, Mother Superior, and encourager look so easy, so graceful.

And you are making it look so graceful again, of course.