Liz was mom’s best friend. I knew her from the tennis club where I worked after school and on weekends. She used to take time to chat as peers, which earned her high marks with me.

The late ’60s saw me morph from a conservative, shy, middle-class kid into a searching and very intense hippie. On one of my quests to find meaning in life, I visited all those I felt had influenced me for good. Of course, this included Liz. When I knocked on their door unannounced, she and her husband, “Big John,” received this wild-eyed, ragged acquaintance from the past without prejudice, and listened as I presented them with all my far-out theories and ideas. If they rolled their eyes or winked at each other, I didn’t notice.

Thankfully, I eventually found what I was searching for. A friend told me he had received Jesus as his Savior, and I did likewise, eventually deciding to join a mission to the youth in New Zealand and Australia. As I made preparations, I heard that Liz was suffering from the latter stages of Parkinson’s disease and was not expected to live much longer. My mother and I arranged to visit.

Lying on her chaise longue, with her husband and mother attending, LIz listened as I filled her in on what had transpired in my life since our last meeting. She was amazed that someone could change so much in such a short time—from “nice” young man to bizarre hippie to Christian volunteer on his way overseas.

When she began to tire, I knew it was time to go. I asked Liz if she would say a short prayer with me, and after what seemed like a long period of silence, she agreed. Kneeling beside her, I took her hand and we closed our eyes. First I felt my mother’s hand join ours, then Liz’s mom’s, and finally Big John’s. All of them repeated the simple salvation prayer inviting Jesus into their hearts.

Liz lived for several more months, during which time she avidly read her Bible and was full of joy and faith. She was an accomplished artist, and was able to continue painting right up to the very end. The proceeds of her final sales helped establish a volunteer outreach in New Zealand that continues to this day.

Heaven is a place populated by those you invite to join you there. Looking forward to seeing you, Liz!