I wasn’t supposed to teach Vacation Bible School this week. Dot was. She was the first volunteer to sign up. That’s how it usually was. Dot would regularly show up to church half an hour early. She taught in Children’s Church. She helped in the AWANA Cubbies class. She collected their dues each week, a quarter, so she was the first face my boys saw as they entered the room. She participated in the Precept Bible Study. She visited people in the hospital. She volunteered for just about anything that needed done.
Nine years ago, as I was leaving the hospital with newborn Lauren, Dot was entering the hospital. She was coming to see us, bringing us an afghan she’d made. We were leaving earlier than she’d expected, and she’d barely caught us before we headed home. Standing at the entrance to the hospital, Dot welcomed baby Lauren into the world.
Dot made afghans for each of my babies. Not many people gave us gifts beyond the first baby, but Dot celebrated each baby with a unique, home-made gift. She loved our family.
Two months ago, Dot became sick. She was weak. She lost weight. She couldn’t come to church. Over the weeks, she became more and more sick. Finally, a little more than a week ago, doctors discovered a tumor in her colon. While she was sick, we were in and out of town, in and out of the country, and busy with remodeling our home. I didn’t realize how sick she was. I didn’t visit her or call her. Then when I realized she was seriously, seriously ill, the family was asking that nobody visit her. I was upset with myself for being too busy to call or visit, too wrapped up in my own life to let Dot know what a blessing she has been to my family.
Finally, as the week wore on, her family said they’d welcome visitors. They knew she wouldn’t live long, and they wanted her to see her church friends, her church family. I went to the hospital to see Dot on Sunday. She was asleep. Her husband told me the doctors had increased her morphine because she’d been in such pain the day before. He said that was the first day she had not been awake at all, the first day she hadn’t wanted to hold his hand. Lying on the bed was but a shadow of the Dot I knew. Her breathing was labored; her hands were drawn up under her chin; her body seemed shrunken, wasted away. I held her hand and prayed. I held her husband’s hand and cried. I told him what a blessing she had been to our family over the years, how she was the one to greet my boys at Cubbies, how she was so faithful to teach in Children’s Church, how she was almost always the first one at church. I told him that we loved and used the afghans and that our children would have them to use with their own children some day. I hope, somehow, she heard me.
About two hours after I left Dot’s hospital room, she died. Dot had come to the hospital to welcome my first baby into this world, and I had gone to the hospital to say goodbye as Dot left this world. Late Sunday afternoon, after I’d said goodbye, after other friends had said goodbye, after her family had said goodbye, Dot was finished with goodbyes. No more goodbyes ever. She stepped into eternity and received the best welcome. I feel confidant that Dot was welcomed with a warm voice saying, “Welcome, Dot. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”