Another day I’ve awaken to the thought of my Myrna Ria Ross. The teacher who actually never taught me in a classroom, but taught me so much through the last nearly 30 years of life passed away on Saturday night. In the wake of her passing, my social media timelines have literally been flooded with words so stirring, soothing and comforting that I am again compelled to post following my previous post of If You Love Someone Say So.
Even though I call her “my” Myrna Ria, I’m smart enough to know that she was shared by thousands. It amazes me that one woman’s heart could be big enough to hold the secrets, pains, successes, journeys and joys of so many. It floors me that her head could carry the names of them all, with stories of old and new attached to each with an ease I now marvel over all the more. There was something about Myrna Ria that, if I am only able to borrow but an ounce of, I feel I’ll be on my way to living a more meaningful life.
In her presence she made every, single person feel special. I can remember my junior year in high school after the death of my first love. Returning to school the Monday after his Saturday night murder is somewhat a blur to me. I remember bits and pieces, thankfully, of things which matter most, one of which is the embrace she enveloped me with as I wailed from within depths of me that, at the tender age of 17, I had no idea existed. I remember the constant follow up she gave me making sure I was okay. Fast-forward decades later, and the adult Angela, who’s never too old for “her” Myrna Ria would sit in her office and in an attempt to help her with whatever project or thought she was stirring up would relish the scriptures she would drop throughout our conversations, or the way she would look at me, almost through me, to make sure I was really okay following a few things which have happened in the last few years. I remember her confidence in me which, even at this older age, mattered so much, especially in times when I was questioning my position in life, next move, or if I still had it, particularly regarding some past career passions I was longing to resurrect.
Again, not to think too highly of myself, in all that she did for me in the few things of many I just shared, she also did the same things for so, so many more. She availed herself to everyone with such a welcoming spirit, which only comes from someone who desires to love as Christ loves. I would watch her talk to me in her office for hours, while also sincerely entertaining students, talking to fellow teachers, tending to all-important choir business, and still having an uncanny ability to give everyone and everything the attention desired making us all feel special. No one felt short-changed in her company. That’s what I want. Like Myrna Ria, I want to be able to be as she was, sharing undivided attention with such genuine finesse that it feels undivided even when it isn’t. I want a selfless spirit which invites others in to trust me with whatever portion of their lives my life is needed. I want to care enough to remember the things big and smaller about people, their lives and the people who matter in their lives. I want to be able to have Scriptures in reserve so plenteous that no matter the circumstance I have something to share with whomever needs it wherever I am…and let me tell you, she was so unapologetically bold about sharing the Word she would drop some Jesus on anyone, anytime, and anywhere. I want that. I want to be able to look someone in the eyes and see what’s in their heart then be there to help like she did. I want to take a page out of the music manual of Myrna Ria Ross and make each person feel special in my presence. That’s what life is about. The people we come in contact with are coming from places and situations we may never experience or understand but we owe it to them to make them feel special, because they are. That’s exactly what Myrna Ria Ross did and I’m grateful to be counted among the many who were able to experience it for myself.