Playing word games online is a pastime I enjoy. One of my favorites pitches out seven letters, and you unscrambled them to form words as time ticks down. There’s always one word that uses all the letters, then others from three to six letters.
One of the words formed as I played this week was “teacher.” Within that word was “create.” Isn’t that so true? A good teacher inspires students to create, to think, to reason, to become adept at, or at least, familiar with, the subject being considered. Not all students have the same talents or abilities or strengths. The best teacher realizes this and meets them in the place where they are and shows them how to do the best they can, with kindness and understanding.
This applies not only to a traditional classroom setting but also to the workplace, the home and the church. In all of life, really.
My friend Patsy was a teacher — her classroom was wherever she happened to be, and her subject, the one she loved best of all, was worshiping and serving Jesus Christ while sharing the good news of the gospel with anyone she was around. She was not pushy. She was not the kind of Christian to beat someone over the head with her Bible. She simply lived her life and in the process, she touched so many with her kindness, her compassion and her concern.
Patsy lived by faith and not by sight, but as of Aug. 30, her faith became sight as she transitioned from this life to the next.
On Sept. 4, her husband and their daughters welcomed friends to her church to celebrate the life she had lived on this Earth. And celebrate it, we did. Music filled the church, hands were lifted in praise, and those who wished to do so danced and clapped and sang with the praise team, which included one of Patsy’s daughters. It was a time of rejoicing in the home-going of a beloved woman and also a time of worshiping the Savior she had served for her entire life.
It was a time of remembrance, too — lots of memories for me. Patsy and I had been friends for 57 years, beginning when we were second-graders at Forest Hill Elementary School and continuing through our high school years at Everett High. We spent a lot of time playing together as children and doing the usual teenage stuff when we were teens — talking on the phone, shopping together, going to ballgames, hanging out at her house or mine. We went to church together, too. I attended my home church on Sunday mornings but on Sunday evenings and some Wednesdays, I’d go with her and her family to their church.
After graduation, we took different paths. I went to the University of Tennessee and she went to business college, so our times together gradually decreased. The last time we spent a lot of time together was when she invited me to vacation with her and her mom and dad at Myrtle Beach. This was around 1974 or 1975, when we were both in college. Our lives got even busier after that as we finished school, got jobs, got married. Gradually, we lost track altogether as my family and I moved to different areas of the country with my then-husband’s job.
Over the past few years, we reconnected, spurred by the passing of time and the desire to once again see the friends of our youth. We became friends on Facebook and kept in touch that way, and occasionally, a group of us “girls” from the Everett Class of ’73 would meet for supper. The last time I saw Patsy was at one of these suppers, a year or so ago. We all laughed and talked and in our minds, were teenagers again, although now we talked about children and grandchildren instead of the things that occupy a teenager’s world.
All these memories came flooding in at her celebration of life service. Many who attended walked to the front of the church as shared their memories of Patsy, but I knew I couldn’t in that venue. There were some tears as each person, from the youth she mentored on the praise team to neighbors, church friends, work friends and more told of how she touched their lives. She lived her faith every single day, whether she “accidentally” forgot to put in her ear plugs to listen to Christian music in the workplace cafeteria, or gave a warm welcome to a newcomer, or worshipped with everything she had at church services.
It’s still hard for me to realize she’s gone. One thing I know for sure is, our next reunion is going to be something out of this world.
Goodbye, my friend. I’ll see you again when the time is right.