The minister approached me after church. “We’re going to check in with people who haven’t been here for a while to make sure they’re okay and let them know they’re missed. Will you help?”
It was the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death, and visiting strangers was the last thing I wanted to do. “Not today,” I said. “I’m sorry.” As I left the church, I prayed, Lord, I’d give anything to feel Mama near again.
For years after Mama died, I had met with her friends to laugh and talk, remembering her cheerful ways, her parties and how she made time to visit the housebound. The word visit stung my conscience. I went back to the minister. “I’ll help after all,” I said, and he handed me a name and address.
When I drove to the house, a woman answered the door. “I’m here to see Cora Heinecke,” I said, introducing myself. “Cora’s in bed,” the woman replied. “She’s one hundred years old, you know. But she loves company.” She led me to a dark bedroom, where she raised the shades and told Cora, “You have a visitor. Mrs. Potter is from the church.”
Cora sat up. “Lillian Layton’s daughter?” she asked. “What a blessing!” I looked at her, unbelieving. It turned out that Cora had been a close friend of my mother’s! For more than an hour we talked about Mama. It was a discovery I never have forgotten: When I reached out to others, Mama came nearer to me.