Ted Hart, husband of Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful and Recycling Center Director, Lynn Hart, passed away suddenly a little over two weeks ago. The community of Athens has surrounded Lynn and her family, as I would only expect of Athenians, with wondrous love and support. This is the third time this has happened to a personal friend of mine within the last six months, and it has drawn me up short. It makes me want to be the best wife I can be, because tomorrow with our mates clearly is not promised.
But, to get to “the heart of the Harts,” one must know a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly. They were high school sweethearts, and Lynn fell in love at the tender age of 15. She was 19 when they married, and he was 20. The world was their oyster, or so they thought, and then Ted was diagnosed in his early twenties with Multiple Sclerosis. As Lynn has said publically, “Ted first got diagnosed, and then got angry.”
He stayed angry for decades, was no fun to live with, and then “Alabama” happened, the vehicle for the miracle that occurred within him before Jesus came for him. The Harts, like so many of us _ _ _ _ Yankee transplants, never expected to end up in Alabama, let alone fall in love with it as we have. And, as is the case with us, we really didn’t know at first why we were here. But Friendship Church brought wondrous friendships for them both, and as the MS ate away at his body and brain, God surrounded Ted with folks who helped him work his stuff, surrender utterly to His Savior, and when he finally had to spend his last several months at Athens Rehab and Senior Care, he became the joy of the staff. As Lynn says, “The MS ate the anger, and the man I fell in love with when I was 15 was back.”
It just so happened that their 40th wedding anniversary fell on the Sunday just after Ted passed. It could have been a tough day, but Teddy Wolcott, who takes care of the Athens Now website woke up that Sunday before church with an idea that to me was providential. She invited people over to celebrate their anniversary as well as have a casual, intimate impromptu memorial service. It was there that I heard the “Ted stories,” and marveled at the extraordinary grace that had been poured out upon Ted and Lynn after they arrived in Athens nearly 10 years ago. “I now know why God brought us here to Alabama,” Lynn said to the group. “It was for this.”
Perhaps C.S. Lewis says it best: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird. It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” Ted “hatched,” and it was good. And we will be fed by the “heart of the Harts” from here on out, and I am grateful.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner