Have you ever known someone who inspired you to be a better person? I have the pleasure of knowing a handful of such people. Some are relatives like my Baba who is a great woman of faith, my mother who is strong against all odds and my sister who has the will to achieve her dreams. Some are people I've had the pleasure of meeting through my work here on the Coast like local painter Gerhilde Stulken who has faced incredible health challenges but still shines through her artwork and her strong sense of self. She once told me she only says what she means. That is something I have not yet been able to master, though I try.
My awkwardness in some situations seems to get the better of my vocabulary more often than I'd like, thus the career in writing. It helps to edit your words before you deliver them.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting to know someone I have yet to meet. I attended the celebration of life for Rhody Lake, the 80-year-old Sechelt woman who went missing on Nov. 27, 2005. She was out for a walk that snowy November day, as was her regular routine, but something out of the ordinary happened and Rhody never returned to her Sandy Hook home.
I covered the disappearance from the first missing persons report, meeting her family gathered in her home waiting for some news from the dozens of searchers out combing the local forest and shorelines. It struck me then what a strong family Rhody has. Despite the overwhelming fear they must have been feeling, they invited me into Rhody's home and gave me a picture to scan and a few words for that first article.
I remember looking at that picture and having to double check Rhody's age, as she looked closer to 50 than 80, a testament to the healthy lifestyle she lived.
I found out much more about this amazing woman at the celebration of life ceremony held in her honour at Bethel Baptist Church Jan. 13. Friends and family gathered to share stories of Rhody, remember their time with her and unanimously cry out for an answer to her disappearance. I attended to pay my respects. This story has touched me. I often put myself in the situation of those I'm writing about and the thought of my mother disappearing tears me up inside.
While sitting in the corner at a table filled with Rhody's friends I heard of her 'take me or leave me' attitude, her dedication to eating healthily, her love of books, her many career achievements and her strong faith in Jesus Christ. She was described by some as a "prayer warrior," a woman who loved to get close to her Christ. That's someone I want to be. I do no greater growing then when I'm talking to God, and I know I have a lot of growing left to do.
At the end of the celebration, Rhody's family set out a table of Christian books Rhody had accumulated over the years and all in attendance were welcome to take one home. I surveyed the table and found one well-worn paperback with some pages torn from the binding but neatly placed back inside. It was titled Purpose in Prayer, and I felt the need to pick it up.
The story of Rhody's life has inspired me to continue on my journey of trying to be a better person. I just wish I could tell her "thanks" in person. My prayer right now is that Rhody's family gets some closure. If you know anything, call the local RCMP detachment at 604-885-2266, or you can make an anonymous phone call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.