Hazel Dorman was truly an angel here on earth! Hazel, better known as Mama Bear, and I met through her son, Randy Dorman, and his wife Ann. I met Ann and Randy through a friend who used to live in Nashville. Randy played guitar for Kenny Rogers for over 45 years, and my friend thought we should meet. Seemed like a good idea to me as well, and from our very first meeting I have been incredibly blessed by my friendship with Randy and Ann. They are like family to me, and I try to visit them as much as possible when I’m in Nashville.
When Mama Bear came to live with them, that was the cherry on top!
Mama Bear and I immediately became best friends! She was 90 years old at the time, but her heart and spirit were young and vibrant. She would share beautiful memories and endless stories in her thick southern drawl, and I was instantly mesmerized by her. Mama Bear’s maiden name is Miller, so we joked that we were long-lost cousins since my maiden name AND married name are Miller. We have to be related somehow, right!
I can honestly say, I have never met a woman who exuded more love for Jesus than I saw in Mama Bear. It simply poured out of her. I always say she has loved two things deeply in her life, Jesus and Papa Bear – her husband of over 65 years. I could literally sit all day and listen to her stories of life with Papa Bear, raising two sons, how music was always a part of her life, and how resilient she was. She went through difficult things in her life, like losing her father early, but she was a survivor and her faith always remained strong.
I got a text from Ann on Monday telling me that Mama Bear was preparing for her great reward. Hospice said it would only be 24 to 48 hours before she would be taking her final breath.
As I read those words, my heart stopped for a beat or two. Mama Bear is 94 years old, she’s lived a great life, she longs to be with her beloved Papa Bear, but it’s still hard to let go. Goodbyes are overwhelming at times.
But yesterday at 4:46 a.m., our sweet Mama Bear was dancing with Jesus. I can only imagine the glorious welcome she received in heaven as her beautiful spirit joined her beloved Savior and her beloved husband, Bruce! Oh, what a reunion that must have been.
I know one thing for sure, heaven just got sweeter!
As I write this with tears filling my eyes, I am grateful for the precious moments I was able to spend in her presence. I’m eternally thankful for the nuggets of wisdom she passed along to me. And I am forever changed by having known her.
I also find myself wondering if others see even a glimpse of her spirit in me? Do I wear the unmistakable love of Jesus like she did? Do grace and love flow out of me like it so naturally did from her? Will I be remembered by others as fondly as Mama Bear will be remembered by so, so many? Will I leave a legacy of faith like she has?
I don’t know how to answer those questions, but I’m thankful and feel incredibly blessed that God gave me such a beautiful role model to follow.
My heart longs to fly to Texas for her burial this weekend, but prices and scheduling are making that impossible. The good news, however, is her son Randy and I wrote a song for his parents called “That’s What Love Looks Like,” and they are going to play the song at the funeral. So even though I can’t be there physically, my voice will be there and that makes me SO happy! My heart will be there as well.
So I mourn. I cry. I long for more time with this sweet woman. But ultimately I rejoice this day knowing that Hazel Dorman has made it home and she is dancing and singing with Jesus!
And one thing is for certain, heaven is definitely sweeter!
Below is a link to the video of the song we wrote for her and Bruce. Randy produced the song at his studio, Scenic Ridge, and the members of Kenny Rogers’ band played on it. I hope you enjoy the song and the pictures of Hazel and Bruce.
Mama Bear, may you rest in peace.
Hugs and love,