for sergeant

financial reports indicate the comanche, texas newspaper is projecting bankruptcy next year after the loss of their one and only customer.  i suspect a drop in ear plug sales across the metroplex.

i am also told that parked cars, street signs, and garage doors everywhere sighed with relief when "granny" died.  i will forever wish that i had a picture of the rear end of her car that "she never hit anyone with."

"when you  remember  me,  it  means  that  you  have  carried  something  of  who  i  am  with  you,  that  i  have  left  some  mark  of  who  i  am  on  who  you  are.  it  means  that  you  can  summon  me  back  to  your  mind  even  though  countless  years  and  miles  may  stand  between  us.  it  means  that  if  we  meet  again,  you  will  know  me.  it  means  that  even  after  i  die,  you  can  still  see  my  face  and  hear  my  voice  and  speak  to  me  in  your  heart.  for  as  long  as  you  remember  me,  i  am  never  entirely  lost... if  you  forget  me,  one  of  the  ways  i  remember  who  I  am  will  be  gone.  if  you  forget,  part  of  who  i  am  will  be gone. the  good  thief  said  from  his  cross  in luke  23:42. "jesus,  remember  me  when  you  come  into  your  kingdom."    there  are  perhaps  no  more  human  words  in  all  of  scripture,  no  prayer  we  can  pray  so  well. ”  (frederick  buechner) 

of all the things, what i may remember about my "granny" is a large rocking chair that sat at the corner of her garage and drive way- the tactical placement enabled her to see everything on the botom half of east leech street in kilgore, texas. she liked to yell- oops talk at all the neighbors and passer bys.  that rocking chair now, and forever, sits empty.  i will remember her there on her chair through hot texas summers with a large box fan blowing at her back. i will remember the tattered word search pages that were covered with your phone numbers. oh, and there's the pulse button, corded phone that half sat on the tool shelf. 

as i grew older and moved away, i will remember her phone calls. not unlike the calls you have received from her over the years.  i will remember her forcefully clearing her throat into the phone as she told an odd story she read in the dallas morning news as if it were gospel, then said with great force, "granny!" she would hang up before i ever got a word in.  i will remember the nickname my friends in east texas gave her, "sergeant granny," which stuck not only because of her volume, but also her resilience in our small town.

i will remember b marie (swindoll) maxwell with joy and laughter. i believe that god creates all persons uniquely and in great love. never could this be more true than in the person of marie maxwell.  she is indeed, one of a kind- and within her lives a love for you and for me and even for the stranger she just met at the gas station 5 min ago- this love can only come from the source of true love. i will remember the beautifully unique person god created in marie.

i will, remember.

henri  nouwen says, "through  memory,  love  transcends  the  limits  of  time  and  offers  hope  at  any  moment  of  our  lives."    

what will you remember?  

"life  does  not  cease  to  be  funny  when  people  die,  any  more  than  it  ceases  to  be  serious  when  people  laugh."    george  bernard  shaw

i suspect that many of our memories of marie are held close to our hearts with the bond of a chuckle.

did you know that marie was from pretty, texas?

did you know that she spent her wedding night in jail?

did you ever seen her laugh, yell and then start crying all in the same breathe?

in order to know this about her, you only needed to spend 5 and 1/2 unadulterated seconds in her joyous presence.

my own memory is neither vast nor rich enough to carry her legacy.  your memory carries her too. your memory of her as an aunt, a neighbor, a church member, a granny, a loving wife, a mother, and those of you who are the "i dont know how we know her but it's like we are family." you too.  held together, all of these memories re-imagine the mosaic stained glass named marie maxwell. and the light shines through it.

i believe that we hold her in our memory, not for the sake of our grief, but rather for hope.  in the gospel of luke, the thief on the cross asked jesus, and he was indeed remembered in the kingdom come. and so we too remember marie, and we ask for her to be remembered, and i believe, in great-grace, god remembers her.  in sadness, death swells our hearts, but in hope, god brings life again.

there is an age old art. a practice older than bekin's, older than texas and even older than the bible.  and marie, i believe mastered the art form.  more than crochet', maries' artistry was that of a story teller.  the narrative of human history is dependent upon this practice, and marie was a lifelong keeper of it.

hear me out, i am not saying that all the stories she told, were exactly true- some of her stories were just that- stories. but i can say with certainty that marie's stories were told with purpose.

she told stories to teach, to comfort, to laugh, to love, to tease, and others, though she didn't know it, were told to put you to sleep. her stories and her life exaggerate with meaning. a worthy embelishment.

she told me stories about you, and about your parents, and your parent's neighbor's dog.  she told the stories of our loving god and the stories of our broken world.

and in honor of marie, and the god who made her unique, i believe that we too can become story tellers.

i leave you with my own story of her:  as young boys, richard, daniel and i were far from still or clean. she loved it.  i remember countless, soccer, baseball and football games.  between the three of us, there must have been hundreds!  my hunch is that in all she missed only a handful of our home games including my college games in arkansas. most "ball games" (as she called them), were followed by her taking us to get a whopper at bk, and then eventually home. i can remember knock-down-drag-out-yelling matches between chuck, teresa and granny as to why they didn't want their 80 + year old mother driving by herself 9 hours tfriday night's play off game in the middle of nowhere.  i then remember chuck and teresa relenting and taking granny to those games. at home games, i rarely remember seeing her in the stands. but whether at the football stadium, the baseball park or the soccer field, one wouldn't need long to spot her, out of the corner of your eye, she was in her parked car with an advantageous view.  she always had her windows down so she could talk to anyone who walked by. and if it happened to be one of your own games, and you didn't see her, all you had to do was wait for a goal to be scored, and sure enough the tired horn of a 99 white ford taurus would ring out as it were the israelites circling jericho.   with that sound, i need not see granny, her car, her end zone dance, her smile, or her cane raised out of the window, for i knew she was there- with a large diet coke in the console, and like the spirit of god, she was there- always.  and through the years, i developed a hunch that she would rather be at my game than in eternity with cecil.  and though she missed and loved cecil with all of her soul, cecil could wait for his bride until after the game. for granny was staying for the 2nd half- and might i say "thanks be to god."

so as you go, as you laugh, as you cry and as you wonder- be a story teller. go tell the story of marie, the story of god- the story of life and love and all that falls between.


  1. Wow. what a great, honest tribute to Granny. Very well written. She will be missed I am sure.

    1. thanks steve. she loved you dearly (which might have been unfortunate for you at moments)


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