THE WORLD GASPED WHEN she died a year ago, some say of a broken heart.
And the world mourns still, for rare was her impact and rarer still her example.Her name is synonymous with grace and compassion.
She was the personification of gentleness, of kindness, of patience, of lifting others with a touch, a smile, an encouraging word.
The only thing she didn't succeed at was marriage.
But she was a great mother.
How have we managed without her?
The calendar has turned around on itself, and Agnes Gonxha "Teresa" Bojaxhiu is as missed as ever.
She raised everybody's kids but her own. But, then, she never had any kids of her own.
She became a nun when she was 18 and took her vows in Darjeeling at the foot of the Himalayas. She was already small, about 4 foot 6, but this made her feel even smaller.
Now she was ready to take on the world, one sick and dying person at a time.
"We can do no great things," she was fond of saying, "only small things with great love."
The part of her story I find most intriguing and inspiring is that she was 36 years old and a full 18 years into her career as a school teacher at a Catholic girls' school in Calcutta, India, when she made the decision to bag it all and try something new.
And she was also battling a bad case of suspected tuberculosis.
Sick and maybe dying herself, she petitioned the leader of the church, Pope Pius XII, if she could leave her post as teacher and take care of Calcutta's sick and maybe dying, of whom there were too many.
Thus began the "Missionaries of Charity," the brainstorm of a single compassionate woman that opened in 1948 to non-rave reviews in an abandoned Hindu temple on the wrong side of Calcutta.
Twelve nuns made up the staff, headed by "Sister Teresa." Soon to be known as "Mother Teresa."
Mother to the poor, the starving, the leper, and the dying.
When she died a year ago this Saturday at the age of 87, the Missionaries of Charity numbered in the tens of thousands, stationed in more than 450 centers around the world.
What began as a simple effort to grant dignity to the dying expanded well beyond the sum of its parts to engulf every continent.
In the end, Mother Teresa wasn't everywhere, it just seemed like it.
A bunch of Mother Teresas had me surrounded yesterday.
I was at the Red Cross Blood Drive, lured there by the free cookies and fruit punch.
One, Jennifer, handed me a clipboard and signed me in.
Another, Todd, took my blood pressure.
Yet another, Nancy, gave me a Red Cross "I Gave Blood Today" pin to put on my shirt.
They were at the Red Cross headquarters on 4th East and 465 South in Salt Lake City, drawing blood and cracking jokes. It was like a rugby game, but less painful.
The need for blood is critical all year long, but around the first of September it traditionally becomes especially critical. People don't donate as much blood in the summer. Too busy. And they use more. Same reason.
The supply-demand ledger really goes out of balance on Labor Day weekend, when free time and crowded roads greatly reduce the supply and increase the demand.
Be kind. Do something small and great. Give blood. Tell them Mother Teresa sent you.