Last week was a difficult and tragic week for the Smith Family. Last Monday we got a phone call from David's parents letting us know that their next door neighbor in Tampa had passed away. His name was Dominic and we all called him Mr. Rizzo. He lived a full life and left this world at age 85. He left behind his darling wife, Ananda, and his two grown sons. To the Smith kids he was very much like a grandfather. He was one of the kindest men I have ever met. He loved to garden, he loved his wife, and he served others every chance he got. Even in his last days he never let anyone know just how much pain he was in as his body fought the cancer again. It was more important to him that he show others love and a tender heart than complain. What a selfless man! I know he is serving the Lord in heaven and that helps my heart rest a little.
Here we are at our wedding in March 2006 with Mr. and Mrs. Rizzo
Later on in the day, after hearing about Mr. Rizzo, we received another phone call letting us know that David's aunt Peggy was admitted to the hospital. Aunt Peggy (David's mom's sister) was a woman after God's own heart. Every summer for as long as I can remember, Peggy served the people of Ghana while on a mission trip with her church. She built relationships with the people, befriended them, and showed them God's love and mercy. During her most recent trip to Ghana, just a few weeks ago, she contracted Malaria and a nasty parasite. Upon arriving back to the states, she had not been feeling well and was finally admitted to the hospital. Her body, already weak and deteriorating, was just not strong enough to fight it and she passed on Friday afternoon. Thankfully, David's mom had flown to Huntsville to be with her sister and was able to be there when she went to meet her Lord and Savior. It was such a privilege to know Aunt Peggy and see the way she loved others. I know she served an amazing purpose while she was here in this Earth and I know God is so proud to have her with him in Heaven.
And, here is Aunt Peggy and Uncle David dancing at our wedding. This picture makes my heart smile :)
We feel so blessed to have known both of these wonderful people. Of course the question always comes .. why did they have to die? But, while I was reflecting on that the past few days, I was reminded of the Esther study I did a while back about how faithful our God is. Even in the worst of circumstances, God is still faithful. At the end of the day, he wants us to pick ourselves up off the floor, stand up, and remember that even in death, GOD IS FAITHFUL! I am so thankful that I serve a God like that. A God who gives me purpose to live and something to stand for. A God who reminds me that while our time on this Earth is short, the choices we make while we are here are crucial. And, a God who assures me that when we die, we don't just rot away in the ground, we get to stand next to Him in eternal life in Heaven. I am so glad that Mr. Rizzo and Aunt Peggy are feeling no pain and are rejoicing with their Savior in Heaven. May they rest in peace until we can all be together again ...