In 2001, God sent me to serve Emmanuel Baptist Church and Christian School in Hartsville, SC. There was a widow named Myrtle who was one among many who loved us and took us in like family. My first impression was that she was very prim and proper and did not joke around. I had the element of class correct, but I seriously underestimated the sense of humor.
She joined the choir within a year after I got there. She invited us out to eat, to other functions, and eventually to her home. Any meal she prepared was always enough for an army, and she would apologize for it not being enough. We would laugh. She was a queen of hospitality.
She was someone who endured a lot in her life. Her daughter preceded her in death by over 50 years, yet she handled it with such grace and was able to help others who went through something similar. She had many health issues, yet she bounced off many times. I often joked with Myrtle and said she would sing at my funeral. She would laugh and tell me how I wouldn’t want that. We shared many laughs together.
She was a lady who was highly respected by those in Hartsville who knew her. People were quick to bring her food, mow her grass, and do anything she needed. Myrtle was just as quick (if not quicker) to do for others. She cared for the sick even when she wasn’t feeling 100 percent. She modeled selflessness, and many admired it.
She was a wise lady. Whenever I needed guidance, I would call her. She would always give a good answer because she had a great deal of life experience. When I was getting ready to Pastor my first church, she said, “Matthew, you won’t be there more than a year. I know you, and I know that area and you won’t be a good match.” I knew she was right, yet I sensed God was leading me there for some reason.
This morning, she saw her Savior face to face after 92 years of life. She followed her sister only by two earthly days (time doesn’t matter in eternity). She is reunited with her husband, daughter, siblings, other relatives, and friends who preceded her.
Myrtle was a class act. I’m thankful that God used her for 15 years to be a blessing in my life. Due to changes in my life, I was unable to see her for the last 3 years of her life. We would talk on the phone periodically and catch up. I was able to talk to her on the phone 3 months ago. She was not well that day, but she chose to talk to me for an hour despite the fact that she did not feel up to it. I offered to let her rest, but she insisted on talking.
I look around and pray that God will raise up some more Myrtles. She wasn’t world-renowned, but she left a lasting impression on all who met her. Please join me in praying for her family and all those who grieve.