It seems too many loved ones recently have said good-bye to this vale of grief and sorrow and said hello to sweet eternity. Heaven is blessed, but I am distressed.
Whenever I needed a good story of kindness and compassion, I could always find one quickly in Pinky Cabe. Since she blushed mightily at the hint of any praise -- hence the name Pinky forever cloaked her Christian name of Martha -- I mentioned her only once in this column. But in my last three books, I tossed the veil aside and told the world of her gentle spirit.
"It's true," she said softly one day a few years ago when I was visiting her during a brief stay in a nursing home for physical rehabilitation. She was gently stroking Dixie Dew, who was lying beside her on the bed.
"What?" I asked. The conversation had suddenly turned.
"Be ye kind one to another," she responded, quoting one of her favorite scriptures. "I've always believed that but since I've been here, I've realized it more. One pat on my shoulder or one kind word of encouragement has meant so much."
I was building a house so I laughed. "Yes, kindness works except if you're working with contractors. Then only meanness works."
In spite of herself, she laughed. Pinky always laughed joyously at my quips. I'll miss that. She and her beloved husband of 62 years, Guy, who died six weeks before her, were gloriously entertained by me. I love a good audience and now I have lost two of the best.
I called Pinky "one of my saints," a name for four close friends and mighty prayer warriors. They were linked through me, but if one of the saints was in dire straits, she would call and ask, "Will you call the saints and ask for prayer for me?"
Over the years whenever I hit a rough patch -- like when Mama died -- Pinky would call and say, "How about coming over and having salmon patties with us?"
I loved Pinky's salmon patties. She made them with crumbled "sody" crackers and poured a bit of canned juice into the mixture. I hate to think that there is no one left to make salmon patties for me but, sadly, it is the truth.
At Pinky's funeral, her longtime friend, Lucy, gave one of the sweetest eulogies I have ever heard. In her soft, sing-songy voice, Lucy told stories of her friend and neighbor.
"She was a true Southern belle in the finest sense of the term," Lucy said, her voice quivering at times with emotion. "She was beautifully raised."
Beautifully raised. What a lovely phrase. And how true. Pinky was thoughtfully well-mannered. She knew the etiquette of hospitality gifts and thank-you notes as well as cards of encouragement or praise. She was constantly compassionate, looking always to take a casserole to those in need or lend a helping hand.
She was loyal and steadfast, devoted to God, family, country and friends. She spoke harm of no one, not even those who brought a hint of trouble or despair into her life.
"Pinky, what happened to so-and-so?" I might ask if I had heard a bit of gossip somewhere.
She'd shrug. "I don't know." Even though she did. Then, she changed the subject.
"When it comes to gossip, you are worthless," I would teasingly chide.
Yes, she was beautifully raised. Every child should be raised as Pinky was.
One day after church, Pinky turned to me and grasped my hand tightly. "When I die, promise me that you will see that at my funeral they sing, 'It is Well With My Soul.'" Pinky rarely asked for anything but she was adamant. "Please." Her eyes grew moist. "Because when I am gone, all will be well, very well with my soul."
I know it is. I wish I could say the same for my heart.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "There's A Better Day A-Comin'." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.