Content from RubelShelly.com
For the Week of November 14, 2005
by Rubel Shelly
Wasn’t it Reader’s Digest that used to carry a series called “My Most Unforgettable Character”? If it were still running, there’s a lady I could nominate.
Ann Patmore died a few days ago, and I was honored to assist her family at the funeral last Wednesday. I had known her for 27 years – a rather brief time by her standards. You see, she was 106 years old when she died.
Ann Patmore – Mom Pat to her family – will almost surely be the only person whose funeral I will officiate whose life spanned three centuries. She was born in the nineteenth (1899), lived through the twentieth, and died in the twenty-first. That fact alone makes her “unforgettable” to me. But the key term in the old magazine phrase is not so much “unforgettable” as “character.”
She was a character. Quite a character! She had a wonderful sense of humor. She had a strong will. She practiced “tough love” with her children and theirs before child-rearing experts knew the term for their speeches and books. She had red hair in her younger days – and a whiff of a temper to match.
What that woman did see in the course of her life! Running water, flush toilets, automobiles, aircraft, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, space travel, the rise (and fall) of Communism – the list just goes on and on.
One of 10 children, her mother died when Ann was only 15. Maybe that’s part of the reason why she later worked at an orphanage and a nursing home. She took people into her own home to live. She had a compassionate heart that caused her to want to ease the pain others were carrying. And there are so many family stories of how she eased the pain of first one and then another. She gave not only gifts but counsel. She stayed in touch with and aware of what went on in their lives. She knew how to hold them accountable – lovingly. Guilt had to be faced, but she refused to layer shame or rejection over it. She knew how to love.
As one of her grandsons said at her funeral, Mom Pat’s faith wasn’t a “big part” of her life. It was her life! Can there be any doubt that her confidence in the Lord is what gave her such an optimistic, adventurous spirit? “I guess I was lucky, thank the Lord, but nothing really bad ever happened to me,” she told me years ago. I think she must have defined “bad” as anything God was insufficient to give her grace to surmount! What a spirit with which to face life.
I wish you had known this remarkable lady. And I hope you have her confidence in facing life – confident in the God whose grace is always sufficient.