Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Bearer Of Bad News

I was going to write a new devotional tonight but two phone calls interrupted the process and that's OK. The topic of both was the same- a mutual friend has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and they wanted me to know. The two young ladies had been one of my teacher's aides and one of my basketball players. I appreciate their doing something that isn't easy. The following, about a young lady named Mary Fay, is from April 10, 2006.

Her name was Mary Fay and she played on my high school basketball team for four years. Her folks, great friends of mine, kept me fed during the thirteen years that I worked at Friendship Christian School. As we were neighbors, Mary Fay rode to and from school with me through her sophomore year. Later, she told me it was a tough ride home when we had a bad practice. She knew I was mad when I constantly changed the radio stations. Women are intuitive, even at fourteen! In eighth grade, she told me she would NEVER play in high school so I made her sign a contract. The stipulation was that if she changed her mind, she had to bring lunch for me one day at school. She recanted. Mary Fay didn't just make lunch; she prepared a feast, served in our cafeteria, complete with cloth napkins. Roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, rolls, dessert...I was amazed! Her mother and her grandmother alone would have made it worthwhile to have Mary Fay as a Lady Commander. They continually hosted garage sales for the girls to fund our limited budget. Her mom, Lounita, supplied decorated cakes whenever one of the girls celebrated a birthday. As a player, Mary Fay got the most out of her ability. She played little until her senior year when she became a starter. In a December tournament in Nashville, she performed well enough to make the All-tournament team but was excluded. We struggled in the regular season but peaked in our district tournament. In the finals, we lost a one point heartbreaker to Trousdale County. The sports section of our yearbook included a poignant picture of Mary Fay, walking off the floor, weeping into a towel. College followed high school, leading her into the social work field. Her career saw her employed by the state of Tennessee, researching the backgrounds of death row inmates. Love found her ten years after high school when she rekindled a friendship with Kyle, a former seventh grade classmate. (That's probably a stretch- as I recall, Mary Fay detested him at age twelve!) They married, had a baby, and are now living a blissful life of service to the Lord in the Volunteer State. Amen.

But this story isn't about Mary Fay, the basketball player or teenager or even the young mother. This is about another side of Mary Fay, a side not everybody gets to see. There is a scene in the movie To Kill A Mockingbird in which Miss Maudie Atkinson is talking to Jem, the son of Atticus Finch. Atticus is an attorney defending a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman. Everyone knows the charge is a sham but not everyone believes Tom is entitled to a legitimate defense. Maudie tells Jem that there are tough jobs in the world that nobody wants to do but good men do them anyway; his father is such a man. When I moved to Houston in 1998, I stayed in touch with friends in Tennessee for awhile but everybody moves on and drifts apart. There are times in life when tragedies happen. That's where Mary Fay returns to the picture. There are phone calls no one wants to make. That's what Mary Fay did. When Shane Griffin, a former student of mine, died in a traffic accident, Mary Fay called to tell me. When the mother of Krissa Johnston, one of my former players and Mary Fay's teammate, was killed in a car wreck, Mary was the one to let me know. And when Mitzi Williams, her dear childhood friend and teammate, lost her life in yet another car crash, it was Mary Fay who rang my number and broke the news. It got so that my heart sank each time the telephone rang and I heard her most familiar voice on the other end. She called other times, too, but you get the picture. I detest being the bearer of bad news. I have chickened out at times, hoping someone else would bear the grim tidings of illness or death. It's an awful job, but it must be done. Mary Fay cared enough about me as her coach, friend, and Christian brother to do the difficult job. She was my Atticus Finch and I am forever indebted to her. The word truth is found thirty-one times in Matthew, always spoken by Jesus. I find it fascinating that in thirty of the thirty-one uses, the statement made by the Savior is, "I tell you the truth." In many of the instances, the truth he referred to was not a pleasant one. Mary Fay told me the truth, even though it was not pleasant and even though she knew I would be hurt. It would have been easier for her to let it slide and the thought probably crossed her mind. She called me because she loved me. That's what friends do. And that's what Mary Fay did.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Make it a point to do something everyday that you don't want to do. This is the Golden Rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain."
Mark Twain

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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JKC said...

"To Kill a Mocking Bird" has touched many lives, and I will always remember having the privilege of loaning you my worn out, personal, very old copy of that wonderful book. That was way back at Georgia Christian in 1983, I guess. I know that was one of the things that endeared you to my family - taking time each day to read such wonderful books to your students (my children). I know that throughout the years you have touched so many lives & I know that you will continue touching kids' lives so long as you are able to teach and to coach. As I have said before (I know you probably get tired of hearing it from me) you truly made a difference in my sons' lives. Thank you and God bless you always.

Jon said...

is To Kill A Mockingbird a good movie?

Me said...

I absolutely love your quote here. I also agree that "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is an awesome book and an awesome movie. I own both and watch and read them at least once a year. My two teen age boys also love them and make their friends watch the movie with them on sleepovers.
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