Of everyday saints and The Great Beyond:
* On a recent Sunday afternoon folks of all ages gathered to celebrate an anniversary — and more.
St. Anne’s Episcopal Day School merrily marked its 25th anniversary with cakes and treats (mostly thanks to St. Paul’s Martha-&-Mary Guild) — and more. Especially dear was a wall adorned by photos of each child from the preschool’s history-of-caring.
Board Chairman Kathy Shelton announced a surprise for beloved founder “Mrs. Nancy” Wheeler, husband Bob and son Robbie: The dedication of a schoolroom in their honor. The Wheeler Activity Room will be renovated this winter to expand its use.
“We are so humbled and honored!” Mrs. Nancy exclaimed later. “I had dreamed of such a school even years before [its launching with Rev. Bob Copenhaver]…. The staff remains so wonderful! They love sharing dear moments with the children.”
Certainly (as the church bulletin put it) “it took a village to have a wonderful re-dedication” of St. Anne’s. But to start the school on its caring mission also took a “village” — shepherded by Mrs. Nancy, Bob, “Father Bob” and other everyday saints.
* New, glorious blue vestments and hangings shone in St. Paul’s on the first Sunday in Advent. They were dedicated to an equally radiant spirit: The late cherished nurse, mother, wife and friend Rosemary Winslow.
Her Martha-&-Mary Guild “sisters” made the donation. (Our Valentine’s 2009 column was about British Rosemary-and-Jeff and her parents.)
* Do you ever just want to scream “Y’all quit dying! Or getting cruel diseases!?”
Allen Cross…. Sid Carter…. (Though their eulogies did summon smiles — and even laughter!)…. Surely you have your own sad “departure” list.
It is hard to watch someone you considered a Force of Nature collapse — “sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.”
Shirley Hurt Brand lived the fullest of lives. Her obituary challenged my own slacker-hood. She and husband Cabell didn’t just work for humane causes. They personified them (even at 90, Cabell still does).
“Country girl” Shirley could have written the zinger Steel Magnolias quote “an ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure.” Like a living line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” she indeed walked with kings — and presidents — but never lost “the common touch.”
She was far too well-acquainted with grief. She buried three sons, and son Johnny Pence battles cancer. Yet before Parkinson’s worked its last wretched ways on her, how many times did we hear her chirpy “come on in, Dearie? Sit and stay!” As if she had all the time and joy in the world.
Her dear grandkids and many others will gather at a memorial service Dec. 21st (Salem Presbyterian Church). And I will be forever grateful that Shirley — and Cabell — filled “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.”