Jewish World Review July 30, 2012/ 12 Menachem-Av, 5772
Mother Matie's life made others' better
By Mitch Albom
And that's how she lived her life.
She lived 82 years on this earth, the last few were spent on dialysis, yet pretty much her entire adult life was about giving to others, helping the elderly, helping the poor, helping the hungry. She had eight children of her own, but her nickname with everyone was "Mother." It fit. She had a mother's eye for nurturing and a disarming mother's smile that made you trust in her wisdom.
She spoke in a down-home cadence of her
The first time was 40 years ago, a yellow brick structure on
Mother Batie was undeterred.
"The voice said this building," she insisted.
And that building it was.
She talked the owner into selling it to her -- for
It didn't stop her. They went to a bank, drew up a private contract, and with money she collected form renting space in her home, she began to pay it back. Meanwhile, inside that building, she opened a soup kitchen and fed the hungry. It was what God wanted her to do, she said.
Soon thereafter, calamity struck. A fire. Mother Batie ran toward the flames, but before she could get there, she said she felt an invisible arm around her, and a voice once again said, "This is a blessing in disguise."
Within hours, with the fire extinguished, she was inside, wiping down the tables. She wanted the kitchen to stay open no matter how much it had been knocked to its knees. When the original owner saw her determination, he gave her
A blessing in disguise.
Years later, she said she heard the Lord's voice again, telling her to secure a building in
It is where her wake was held Friday night.
You probably didn't know Mother Batie. She wasn't at high-profile events, she held no office, she wasn't a regular on TV.
How many citizens are out there, every day, getting by because of the meals people like
We measure the city in budgets and deficits and tax revenues, but there is an entire ecosystem that supports thousands of the poorest citizens. And nobody truly charts or analyzes this world.
This was where
Last year, government budget cuts nearly closed her soup kitchen, and only a rush of private donations kept the doors open. In her honor, we should do the same now, and make sure they never close.
She used to lead grace before meals and would end by saying, "The things that we have, the Lord has provided. And we are thankful."
We had Mother Batie for 82 years.
And we are thankful.
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