Ce Ce Caldwell Benningfield left her fingerprints everywhere.
I met Ce Ce at a five-day residency for twelve aspiring authors, part of the Christian Writers Guild‘s year-long Craftsman course. Our instructors were Jerry B. Jenkins, DiAnn Mills, Dr. Dennis Hensley, and McNair Wilson.
What a privilege.
What a week.
Three and one-half years later, I can recall certain sights and sounds, some from the presentations, some from the Cliff House at Pike’s Peak, and others from quaint and beautiful Manitou Springs. I remember my most important take-away as a writer, words spoken by Jerry B. Jenkins: Get the story down.
But the most vivid image isn’t of a speaker or a PowerPoint slide or a critique. It’s fingerprints left by Ce Ce, her bald head covered in a headscarf and her look-you-in-the-eye, speak-the-plain truth, never-give-up attitude. Ce Ce Benningfield’s headscarf set her apart in more ways than one, all of them beautiful. (Tweet That!)
We were not in the same small group, so I didn’t spend as much time with Ce Ce as I would have liked. But I observed her, all the time wondering, If I were in Ce Ce’s shoes would I face cancer as bravely? (Tweet That!) Would I speak of my five children–the youngest’s adoption only recently finalized–with such strength of purpose and fierceness, completely devoid of self-pity?
Observing her then and following and interacting with her on Facebook since brought the beauty of Ce Ce’s fingerprints into focus. In some of her Facebook posts her tell-it-like-it-is attitude has brought out my full-throated laughter–and, frankly, my awe at her boldness.
Ce Ce’s fingerprints of devotion to children–some, her former students; some, victims of abuse and neglect; and others, her own flesh and blood and heart–was beautiful to behold.
Ce Ce’s fingerprints of fearlessness in living and speaking her rock-solid faith convicted me in more ways than one. (And reminded me of the heroine of The Calling of Ella McFarland.)
How is it a 47-year-old young woman can leave her fingerprints on a much older woman who knew her so briefly and at such a distance? I think the answer lies in a closer examination of the fingerprints.
Ce Ce’s fingerprints are shaped like Jesus’.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Obituary found at bit.ly/1sQ3gB4.
Memorial service: 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 28, 2016 at Tomball Bible Church, 400 N. Walnut, Tomball, TX 77375.
In lieu of flowers, please make a monetary donation in the name of CeCe Benningfield to Hospice Brazos Valley, 302 E. Blue Bell Rd, Brenham, TX 77833 www.hospicebrazosvalley.org