I dug into my memory drawer today when I had a few free minutes. There was one thing I was looking for, and soon I found it. Or found them, I should say. I need to organize that drawer that is stuffed full of random cards and letters and other mementos. The unmistakable hand writing on the particular envelopes I pulled out, though, easily identified the sender of these treasures and made them easy to find. I’m sure there are others still there in my drawer that I will find later, but for now I was happy to find the ones that I did. I was actually surprised at the many cards and letters that I found in that quick search. It’s a testament to the gracious caring of the amazing person whose heart touched so many of us by the cards and letters and copies of poems and articles that she spent countless hours mailing to hundreds of people, I’m sure.
Alice Zwemke……..Mrs. Alice, as she often signed her name. I’m so grateful that Gary and I had the wonderful privilege of knowing her here in Wichita. She was the embodiment of kindness and gentleness, her voice soft and her smile so full of sweetness. She most definitely possessed the gift of encouragement, and she exercised that gift to the fullest of the abilities God gave her until her age and poor health made it more and more difficult to do so. She would encourage by her kind words and her soft touch, but the way that stood out to so many of us was in her mailings. If I sang a song at church, I would almost always get a card from Alice thanking me and giving me encouraging words. She would thank Gary for teaching or for praying, or thank us for various other ways that we served. Always lifting us up…………always showing us love.
However, even more touching than the many cards and articles and letters that she sent us….and the many hugs and sweet words that she spoke to us……..was the complete love and acceptance that she showed to our Aaron. She never looked at him like he was odd. She never seemed put off by his brusqueness. I never saw her cringe when he was loud or angry.
After Aaron was in the hospital for five days for a video EEG in 2003, there in our mail came a letter from Mrs. Alice. As she so often did, she referred to Aaron as “A very special Aaron.” She quoted a verse that she put in other cards to him: “His eye seeth every precious thing.” I remember reading these cards to Aaron, the cards from Mrs. Alice, and having a hard time being able to finish them because of the lump in my throat and the tears burning my eyes.
Here’s a card from Mrs. Alice for Aaron’s birthday in 2004. Again, she told him how precious and how special he was. She said that she hoped at the Thanksgiving meal that she and Aaron could share a bit.
Fast forward to 2009. Mrs. Alice sent Aaron another birthday card. You can see from her handwriting that age was taking its toll on Alice. Her writing was shakier, but her sentiments of love were as strong as ever. Once again she reminded Aaron that he was special. Mrs. Alice loved that word. She used it often with Aaron……and then on this card, she used that word as she signed her own name – your special admirer.
Yes, Alice was indeed special. Aaron didn’t realize just how special Alice was as I would read him what she wrote. He enjoyed getting the cards and he knew who she was, but he didn’t fully realize just how much she cared for him or what she was trying to convey to him. But Gary and I knew, and we were and always will be so very grateful for her sweet love for our special Aaron.
Tomorrow, November 8, is our special Aaron’s birthday. And tomorrow is the day that many of us will attend the funeral service for our very special Alice. I think it’s pretty special that we get to attend Alice’s graduation service, as she would want it called, on Aaron’s birthday. She would smile at that thought and think of just how special it all really is, too.
We love you, Alice, for all that you were and all that you meant to us…..but especially for the love that you generously poured out to Aaron.
What a special lady you were!