A friend of mine lost his mom, Terri, a few weeks ago. She was 84 and one of the most vibrant women I’ve ever known. She had an infectious smile and a warm hug for everyone she met. Instead of a funeral, she asked that her family throw a celebration of her life. They did just that with the help of their church family. It was a blessing to be able to join them on that Sunday afternoon. (And to be reminded that a Baptist potluck is the best kind of potluck.) I walked away full in more ways than one.
As we enjoyed the lovely spread there was a video montage on loop. In it was Terri’s smiling face. Pictures of her with family and friends. Pictures of her visit to a farm. And a video that is still stuck in my head. It was video of Terri on a zip line – last year. Yep, at the age of 83 she climbed a tall tower, donned a helmet, got strapped in and then jumped off the zip line platform. Hooting, hollering and having the time of her life as she zipped through the piney woods of East Texas. No fear, just joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.
Hearing the story of how Terri passed from this earthly life into the next was even more incredible. There is a Christian camp in East Texas called Pine Cove. I’ve been there more than once on retreats myself. It is possibly my favorite place in Texas, something I had in common with Terri. Turns out Terri was at Pine Cove with her church friends when she passed. In fact, she was signed up to take a turn on the zip line the afternoon she died. Yes, at age 84 she was looking forward to another adventure with her friends. She lived life fully, right up until her last breath. I left her celebration full of food, love and inspiration.
When it’s my time, I want to go out like that. In a beautiful place, with people I love, preparing to embark upon a challenge. I also want to live life fully until then. I want to say yes, not no. I want to look fear in the face and jump off the platform of a courageous life. I want to love people, and spread joy. I want to leave this world better than I found it. All things Terri did. She continues to give now as she donated her remains to the university hospital, because not even death could keep her from an adventure. What an incredible legacy.
An old Gatorade commercial coined the phrase “I want to be like Mike.” It referred to Michael Jordan and his incredible prowess on the basketball court. Terri may not have been famous, but she made an impact on the lives of everyone she came into contact with. She loved life, people and Jesus. For all those reason and many more, I say forget Mike; I want to be like Terri.