Two weeks ago our family said goodbye to my wife’s mother, Carole Fisher. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer almost two years ago and ended her battle with cancer early Monday morning on May 4th.
She was the first of our parents to leave this earth and even though we knew this day was coming, having some measure of preparation and awareness didn’t make it any easier.
As we have been reflecting on her life in the days following her death, there have been four things that just about everyone who knew her has been remembering.
The first was her faith. Carole was a woman of faith. I commented at her memorial service that Carole would have greatly disliked the service. Not because it wasn’t meaningful, worshipful or beautiful, but because it was all about her. Carole hated being the center of attention. She was always more comfortable being unnoticed and off to the side rather than front and center. Her greatest desire was that her life wouldn’t be about her, but would clearly point to Christ. Above her bed in the final days of her life was the verse,
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5
All throughout her life Carole trusted and worshiped God in all things, even in her battle with cancer. And up until her final moments on earth her life clearly pointed to Christ.
Next was her heart of compassion. It’s said of Jesus multiple times in the gospels that he was “moved with compassion.” The same could be said of Carole. Not only was Carole most comfortable with being unnoticed, she was also most comfortable with others who could easily go unnoticed. Carole had a strong love for the “least of these” in our world. There would be many times when she and Jim would visit us here in Atlanta and would make plans to go downtown on a Friday night to serve the homeless with different churches they didn’t even attend. She was always on the look out for opportunities to serve. God’s love for those in need was most evident in Carole.
Third was her life of simplicity for the sake of generosity. Carole held the things of this world loosely. She believed that too much stuff would clutter and complicate her life. She sought to live a simple life so that she could be free to give things away as the needs, or even desires, of others presented themselves. I’ve heard stories of Carole giving away the coat on her back or the gloves off her hands to individuals who had none. There were times I would be perusing the books on her shelf and if she had a book that caught my interest, she would give me her copy saying, “Just take it. You’ll enjoy it more than I will.” Her vision was so focused on her eternal home that the things in her earthly home could easily be given away.
Lastly was her joy. Carole’s joy wasn’t something she manufactured, it was a natural manifestation of her faith, compassion and generosity. Her joy was most evident in her smile. It was infectious and could light up a dark room. Her joy carried her through life and as Jesus noted in John 15, his joy in her was complete.
When people pass from this life to the next we often expect them to leave behind something for us who remain. Sometimes we anticipate homes, family heirlooms or large sums of money. I don’t know if Carole left any of those things behind, but what I do know is that the legacy she did leave behind is far more valuable than things, possessions and cash. All that stuff is temporary and fleeting. It’s the stuff of this world.
What Carole left behind was eternal, the stuff of the Kingdom, a legacy of faith, compassion, generosity and joy. And because those things are eternal, we will always have access to what she left for us know matter where we are or what we are going through.
So Carole, thank you. Your life was well lived. It will never be forgotten and your legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.