Recently, we laid to rest a most beautiful soul. She had been my neighbor since I was 2 years old. She passed away in her sleep, approaching 106 years old. Healthy and sharp up until her last month of life, she recognized everyone and welcomed them warmly when they visited. She was a widow for 28 years and lost two sons to illnesses a few years back. Through each day, she kept her faith and her incredible smile.

As I sat in the church surrounded by the people who loved her the most, I listened, tearfully, to the beautiful tributes of her life.

She was a woman of such grace, honesty, love and faith. She made you feel as if you were the only one on earth when you walked into the room. Greeting you with her genuine smile and love, she remembered every detail of your relationship with her.

Two months before her 106th birthday, she peaceful left this earth to join her loved ones in heaven. Even though her body is no longer here with us, her life lit so many other lives along her worldly journey.

As we left the church, tears filled with laughter, because how can you be sad for her, when she left such a glorious light in her path?

The stories began to seep into my soul, reminiscent of all the advice, love, support and prayers she gave to my family through the years. This led me to explore why she lived so long, so healthy and so wise. Even though she had been ready to go to her everlasting home with streets of gold, to walk hand in hand with the love of her life, she remained. She remained because she still had so much to teach others. Each story told of a virtuous, grateful, loving, giving and generous soul. Could, within, this be her “secret” to a long, healthy life?

See? She was grateful for every day and every person that came into her life. It did not matter who you were or where you came from, she welcomed you with loving warmth and an open her heart and home. She would even bake you the most incredible poundcake!

Through her years, she lived a modest yet, most generous life. She freely gave her love, sharing her faith and love of Jesus and helping anyone she could along the way. Her heart was open, never harboring judgment, resentment or fear.
She saw the good in everyone, but yet was full-on honest with you about any mistakes she saw you making. Her honesty came from her heart and soul, because she never wanted anything but the best for those she loved. And she loved everyone! She also lived fully in each moment. She would grocery shop daily because she would decide that day what she wanted and she wanted it to be fresh. As I mentioned before, if you were in her presence, you were the most important person to her. She never allowed herself to be distracted away from her people. Her kind, bright smile and gentle touch of her hand could bring you such peace and comfort.

So just maybe, she had it all figured out and lived her life as an example for mankind. The “secret” to a long, healthy life is love, generosity, kindness, faith, laughter, honesty and making everyone you encounter feel like the most important person on the planet. Grateful for each day and each person she met, she created a life of peace, light and love, holding onto the good and releasing the bad, knowing that there is always peace, wisdom, strength and love on the other side. She would take your hand and walk with you through the darkness, into the light.

As a yoga instructor, I talk about many of these things in my classes. Not until that moment, sitting in the car outside that church, did I truly put it all into focus. There is such truth to this wisdom. I have witnessed this truth and held the hand of the beautiful soul that truly embodied the gifts we have been given. She talked the talk and walked the walk and would bring you with her in her journey. I am so very blessed to have known you, Mrs. Mattie Lee Morgan.