Mack Williams: Facebook friend and hero

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2018

There is a lady who is a “Facebook-friend” and attends the same church as I. I knew her on Facebook before knowing her at church. Starting out this piece with “There is a lady” made me think of the old English ballad “There is a Lady Sweet and Kind” which I learned from the late Hoyt Safrit,my voice professor back at Appalachian. That ballad’s title could apply to this “Facebook-lady” as well!

I am also friends with her daughter on Facebook; and not long ago, the daughter announced that her mother had been diagnosed with a very aggressive, unsurvivable cancer. Almost on the very next Sunday, the stricken lady’s daughter gave one of the best children’s sermons I’ve ever heard! She talked with the children as a friend ( an older and wiser one). Her manner was, in paraphrase: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and I won’t talk down to them!”

I’ve seen an increase in Facebook posts from the cancer-stricken mother; and the absence of her daughter from those pictures, captioned: “With (daughter’s name),” always lets me know that her devoted daughter is also her devoted photographer.

The mother always has such a sweet look in her eyes, sweetness with just a hint of concern (surprisingly, just a hint, despite the gravity of the situation).

Church friends and others are rallying around her, as they should, not just symbolically, but also being there with her: the comfort of a warm word, a warm look, a warm touch of the hand, a warm hug (and even the comfort of another warm, living breath during that warm hug!

Just the other day, I saw her on Facebook in the company of a relative she hadn’t seen for a good while. I immediately thought of when my late father (Bernard Williams) was in his last illness, and was visited at Rowan Memorial by his brother Harvey (as if in imitation of Lester Flat’s recording of “Won’t You Give me My Flowers While I’m Living.”)

There have been many posts of this lady at local restaurants, and a recent one of her participating in “tailgating” at her daughter’s university’s homecoming football game.

Many people post such posts, but awareness of her situation gives her posts much more meaning. Theirs say:”Look what I’m doing,” whereas hers say: “Look, and rejoice with me that I’m still here!”

So many people have joined symbolically protective and actual praying hands around her that I can’t keep up with their names and faces on Facebook anymore! It’s like trying to follow the characters in a Tolstoy novel! What a wonderful thing! And, human nature being what it is, I’m sure that in this “novel, only a very few of the “supporting characters” begrudge her the “leading” role.

So just as stories are told in regular books, the story of her heroic fight for life is being told with “Facebook,” her “page” becoming as voluminous as a volume on a library shelf.

I suddenly thought of the old TV show, “Run for Your Life,” starring the late Ben Gazarra. His protagonist character was also afflicted with cancer, trying to fit as much of a regular lifetime into the irregularly brief life-“time” left. Where I work, at the Danville Science Center, we respectfully advise “late-comers” to please pace themselves so they can enjoy all of our exhibits before closing time. I get the feeling that this lady is quite proactive with the amount of her possibly remaining earthly time, no outside advice necessary.

She is fast becoming my “Facebook hero!”

When away from Facebook, I still can’t forget those eyes, their look of sweetness, goodness, hopefulness, concern, and nostalgia for life, while life yet remains.

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