A Backward Look
Sitting in the sanctuary of North Oxford Baptist Church on April 25 for the 50th anniversary of the founding of that church, I was filled with admiration for the great religious influence this great fellowship has had through the faithfulness and work of its members and leaders. I recalled with joyfulness how God had blessed me in allowing me to be a part of the beginning of that church. Don and I had been reminiscing about that beginning since we had learned the event was being planned.
It started in 1949 with a three-week revival held in a tent with a sawdust floor at Three Way. Dr. F. M. Purser, then pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, saw the need for a church in that area and led in the establishment of the mission. The anniversary program included a recalling of those years which I found stirred my own vivid memories of the people and times.
I played the piano for those first revival meetings, and after the church was organized, I continued to play for revivals, funerals, and other special events. One of the funerals that I recall was that of Bobby Holcomb, who died as a result of injuries in a high school football game on October 12, 1951, on Legion Field at University High School (later renamed Holcomb Field for Bobby). The whole community was touched by this death of a young person taking part in a public event in the same way as such tragedies now touch us all. The North Oxford Church met the challenge of preparing for Bobby's service.
I value my memories of these early days and also tangible keepsakes of these years. In 1950 I was given a piece of Samsonite luggage for high school graduation. In 1952 an unusually pretty percolator was our wedding gift. The ladies recalled my declaring I wanted always to have coffee when preachers came to our home. The usefulness of these items ended long ago but they are still in our attic and serve as warm reminders of those days gone by.
Reverend Glen Crawford, the first Associational Missionary serving Lafayette and Marshall counties jointly, served as the first pastor of the North Oxford Church. After a while, Reverend Crawford realized the church needed a full-time pastor and he resigned. Reverend James P. Brewer was called. When Don and I married, my home church New Prospect was without a pastor, and Reverend Brewer performed the wedding ceremony. Don and I had spent many hours at North Oxford on ‘dates and we felt a strong attachment there and to Brother Brewer.
God permitted me also to be a part of the beginning of Delay Baptist Church. I was born and lived at Delay during my early childhood, and going to Aunt May and Uncle Toy Denton’s home there was like going to a grandmother’s house. Preaching services of different denominations were held at Delay long before there was a Baptist Church. The church was organized in 1944, and though I was only 12 years old, I played the piano prior to and after the establishment of the church.
One great joy I remember from the early days of the Delay Church was the profession of faith by my Uncle Toy. Though Uncle Toy was a fine man, a loving husband and father, a leader in the community, and a faithful attendant at worship services, he had never made that public commitment which he came to feel he wanted to make. The minister asked him to have the closing prayer of that service. As he knelt there at the front of the church and prayed, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. This profession was during a week-day morning service. The young men of the community were away in World War II. This event seemed to rekindle our faith in God and country. There were many tears of joy that day and also later in the same revival when Uncle Toy’s father, Mr. Walter Denton, was saved. There being no church building, services were held in the Delay school building, which was built as a WPA project. Baptizing of new Christians was a beautiful and touching experience at Yocona River.
Don and I were in on the beginning of another new church in the summer of 1952, the first year of our marriage. We were asked by Reverend Foy Rogers, the Associational Missionary, to lead a mission Sunday School for those on Old Sardis Road who had been deprived of their church when Sardis Dam was built.
We began meeting in a very small abandoned tenant house on property owned by Marvin Durham. The house was located on a barren hill. In July and August when it became extremely hot, the tin roof began to pop—Don later explained to me this happened when the sun went behind a cloud. School desks which had been brought from the old Slate School provided not-too-comfortable seating. We were not very successful in our efforts to enlist others to attend and assist us in this endeavor.
Later the congregation went into a tent owned by Mr. Percy Mathis. A revival was held there in November. It was a cold place but the spirit was warm. A church was formed named Matthews Baptist Church. Those who had been members of other Baptist churches and who desired to be part of the newly formed church were accepted into Clear Creek Baptist Church. which had undergirded the church’s founding. Later, those who were saved were baptized in Sardis Lake near what is now the Clear Creek Park boat landing. Once again Don and I had been part of an endeavor which was a rich blessing to our lives. We rejoiced with those who were so grateful to have a place of worship after such a long time. The first church building was constructed on property given by the Hunter Coles. (The Haven House just recently vacated this building.) In 1971 the church moved to College Hill Road and became College Hill Heights Baptist Church.
Watching a new church begin is much like watching a new life develop. To see people come to know the Lord as their Savior or to renew their vows to Him through rededication of their lives and to watch these grow spiritually and accept the challenge of financial responsibility by pledging their material wealth, often sacrificially, that God’s work in this place can be done is an immeasurable blessing.
I have had other opportunities to go into churches to help in revivals and at other times. I am thankful for all the opportunities--realizing that with each endeavor I myself have been wonderfully blessed.
Gradually through the years I have had to cut back on my activities because of the tinnitus. Though I am often sustained by the wonderful memories of the past, I pray that as I must continue to cut back on my activities, I might be of help in some way to others.
I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
We may, if we choose, make the worst of one another. Every one has his weak points; every one has his faults; we may make the worst of these; we may fix our attention constantly upon these. But we may also make the best of one another. We may forgive, even as we hope to be forgiven. We may put ourselves in the place of others, and ask what we should wish to be done to us, and thought of us, were we in their place. By loving whatever is lovable in those around us, love will flow back from them to us, and life will become a pleasure instead of a pain; and earth will become like Heaven; and we shall become not unworthy followers of Him whose name is Love.
—from: Leaves of Gold author not cited
Room For Love
I was an ordinary hospital room until I was chosen to be something special. After they removed my furniture and stripped the blinds from my windows, the painters arrived. Soon my walls were transformed to a dusty rose. My windows were draped in soft pastels that matched the privacy curtain surrounding my new bed. The bed could be comfort positioned electronically. On my west wall, there was an oak stand containing a TV, VCR and stereo, all controlled by remote. Next to it stood a small refrigerator. A water color of an English country garden brightened one wall, and a eucalyptus swag, adorned with frosted pink roses, hung over the door. A large overstuffed recliner, covered in a dusty rose velour, graced the corner. Now I was complete —I was beautiful — I was a Palliative Care Room.
Soon my first tenant arrived. Her husband pushed the wheelchair through my door. She smiled when she saw how pretty I was. A pale turquoise turban framed her face, hiding her chemotherapy hair loss. She was very thin. After the nurses helped her to bed, her daughter came, bringing her favorite quilt and pillow from home. Love flooded over me. Someone slipped in her favorite CD. She lay back and closed her eyes. It was not long before the rest of the family arrived and spent the first of many hours I would share with them.
Tears flowed freely during her stay. At first everyone was positive and full of hope, but within a few days, I could hear the family whispering in the hall. They all knew she would only be with them for a little while. They vowed to make her last few weeks love filled and pain free.
The family convinced her the turban was unnecessary. Her hair had begun to grow back in a soft silver. They bought her pretty nightgowns, bed jackets, and a pair of hoop earrings to match her new hair style.
One evening the nurses were busy with her behind a closed bathroom door and her hubby was catching a few winks in the big chair. The children stole in carrying a table, dressed in a lace cloth and set with fine china from my patient’s own china cabinet. They poured pineapple juice into the crystal wine glasses and filled the plates with fine food from a local gourmet restaurant. They woke their father, put on a romantic CD and left the room. The bathroom door opened and as she entered the room, her eyes filled with tears. Her husband helped seat her and offered the roses the children had left. They shared a beautiful candlelit dinner, held hands and reminisced. When she became too tired to sit, he lifted her onto the bed and lay beside her — just holding her. He stayed like that the entire night. The nurses did not have the heart to ask him to move.
A brother who hadn’t spoken to her for years spent long hours holding her hand and telling her he loved her. An alcoholic child, who had caused her much concern over the years, solemnly promised he would try to change.
A friend shared much of her time. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they laughed, sometimes they were quiet, but it was a comfortable silence. She could speak her heart about expectations of the life beyond the veil. She showed no fear of dying. I once heard her say: "Dying is not an ending. It’s a beginning—a transition—like moving to a new town, and starting a new job. It’s a learning experience."
Her main concern was for her family. She feared her husband would not make it without her. The friend assured her that she and her family all shared the same strong faith. Her faith had given her strength and it would most certainly give her family what they needed to carry on without her. Of course they would be sad and they would miss her forever, but they would heal.
The hours turned to days, the days turned into weeks. She became weaker and weaker. At times she seemed to slip into a world of her own. She talked to someone that her visitors could not see.
Her family was reluctant to let her go. I think she struggled to stay alive for them, when all she really wanted was that warm eternal sleep.
I overheard her daughter and husband talking in the hallway. The daughter said, "Daddy, we have to let her go. She’s so tired but she is waiting for us to tell her it’s okay to leave." They held one another and cried. When they reentered the room, he slid on the bed beside her and held her. She touched his face and looked into his eyes. While her eyes were brimming with tears—they shone with love. He said, "I know you’re very tired. It’s okay to go. I’ll be all right, and it won’t belong before I join you. I love you enough to let you leave whenever you are ready."
Later that day her daughter held her hand and whispered, "You’ve been a wonderful mother to all of us and a very special grandmother. You’ve done so much for us. You’ve always put everyone’s feelings and dreams ahead of yours. You’ve always been an angel to me, Mom—but now I think you’re ready to be a real angel."
Her two other children, her brother, relatives and her friend were all called so they too could say goodbye and give her the permission she needed to leave.
That night, as her daughter held one hand and her husband held the other, she slipped behind the veil.
She was my first tenant —but not my last. I’ve heard many stories, seen many reunions, heard many promises. Being a Palliative Care Room is wonderful. Sometimes the love is so overwhelming, it bursts into the hallway. I know that I play a part in making it easier for family and patient to make the inevitable as pleasant and pain free as possible. I wish there were many other rooms like me so more people could experience them.
—by Arlene Dutton
Bereavement Magazine, Sept/Oct. 1998
Expressing Our Sympathy Through a Flower Tribute
Sympathy flowers have been part of funeral and memorial traditions in nearly every culture throughout history. Changing trends in how we say good-bye to loved ones, however, often leave family and friends uncertain about how to express their condolences. Below, the Society of American Florists answers the most commonly asked questions about sympathy flowers:
"Is there a right’ or ‘wrong’ type of arrangement to send to people as a sympathy gift?"
There are a variety of appropriate options in sympathy flowers. Although very traditional sympathy arrangements are still requested, most florists today are happy to create a floral tribute that is original and creative. Mixed flower arrangements which look "just-picked-from-the-garden," or green or flowering plants are popular options. These more contemporary alternatives provide the family with the option to take them home, or deliver them to hospitals or places of worship after the service.
"What can I do to make my arrangement special from the rest?"
To make your floral tribute particularly special, ask your florist to create an arrangement that fits the deceased’s personality. For example, a rustic basket of wildflowers to honor someone who loved the outdoors. You could also include his or her favorite flowers or colors, or a flower that had special significance in your relationship with that person. Whatever you do, the family is sure to notice and appreciate the effort.
"Sometimes I see a charity mentioned ‘in lieu of flowers’ in the death notice. Is it still appropriate to send flowers?"
Because flowers help you say what is often difficult to express, they are always appropriate and in good taste. Many people want to express sympathy and show respect for the deceased in a variety of ways, including charitable contributions, food donations, a helping hand, or cards and flowers. Flowers also play a functional role, adding warmth to the service and providing the visible, emotional support that the bereaved need during this time. Funeral directors agree that most people do not want a service without flowers.
However you choose to express your sympathy, any support you can offer will let the family know you care.
reprinted from Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, May 16, 1999, page 5H
Bill of Rights
The Mourner’s Code: Ten Inalienable Rights As You Journey Through Grief
Though you should reach out to others as you journey through grief, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain "rights" no one should try to take away from you.
The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.
1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief
No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.
2. You have the right to talk about your grief
Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don’t feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.
3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey.
Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.
4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into doing things you don’t feel ready to do.
5. You have the right to experience "grief bursts."
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but it is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don’t listen.
7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
8. You have the right to search for meaning.
You may find yourself asking, "Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?" Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the cliched responses some people may give you. Comments like, "It was God’s will" or "Think of what you still have to be thankful for" are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.
9. You have the right to treasure memories.
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is best experienced in "doses." Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.
Reprinted with permission:
Wolfelt, AD., (1997) The Journey Through Grief:
Reflections on Healin, pp. 141-144, Companion
Press, Publishers, 3735 Broken Bow Rd., Ft. Collins,
CO, 80526 (970-226-6050), $19.95
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 22, 1999, through May 18, 1999.
Mrs. Elizabeth Kimmons Bryant 2/22/99
Mrs. Kathleen Britt Donaldson 2/26/99
Mr. Guy Hubert Tidwell 2/28/99
Mrs. Hellen G. Jones 3/2/99
Mr. Dalton "Bob" Melton 3/2/99
Mrs. Harriet Bonds "Hattie" Adams 3/10/99
Mr. James Sidney Drewrey 3/11/99
Mrs. Lorene Stewart Sparks 3/11/99
Mrs. Thelma Mae Hunt Russell 3/12/99
Mrs. Imogene Moser Moore 3/13/99
Mr. Edward Major Horton, Sr. 3/14/99
Mrs. Emily Mae Otto Ballew 3/17/99
Mr. Archie Raymond Naramore 3/19/99
Mr. Tommy Reed Rikard 3/21/99
Mrs. Lula Mae Zimmerman Hoar 3/23/99
Mrs. Dianne Bobo Bishop 3/23/99
Mr. Noah Denson Massey 3/25/99
Mrs. Lillie Inez Sanders Waller 3/27/99
Mr. Ephraim Noble "Eph" Lowe 3/27/99
Mr. George Leo James 3/28/99
Mr. Aubrey Buford "Jake" Gardner 4/1/99
Mr. Johnnie Morgan Williams, Sr. 4/7/99
Mrs. Hattie Pearl Starnes York 4/9/99
Mr. Ernest Young "Jimmy" Gilmore 4/9/99
Mr. Orion Dow "Bill" Wait 4/15/99
Cherise Allen 4/16/99
Miss Stephane Margaret Murphey 4/16/99
Mr. James Dempsey Ash 4/20/99
Mr. Chester Bradley Stanford 4/23/99
Mr. Eugene Simms 4/27/99
Mr. Samuel Montrose Tapscott 4/28/99
Mr. Robert Nathaniel "Nat" Gray 4/29/99
Mrs. Ruth Ann Payne 5/2/99
Mr. Hamilton Edward "Ham" Sweany 5/13/99
Mr. Maurice N. Inman 5/13/99
Mrs. Shirley Ausburn Hearn 5/14/99
Mr. Wilbert Boyce White 5/14/99
Mr. Robert Hugh Pollard, Jr. 5/15/99
Mrs. Mable Hill 5/17/99
Mrs. Ruth Hawkins Henderson 5/18/99
Leave a "Love Letter"
Not long ago, I spoke with a woman whose husband had passed away. As she tried to cope with everything from funeral arrangements to her grief over his unexpected death, she opened a briefcase he had given her several months before he died. In it she discovered insurance policies, legal documents, funeral instructions and even envelopes that were already stamped and addressed with the names of important contacts and advisors. It was, the woman told me, like receiving a "love letter" from her husband.
Nine out often wives outlive their husbands. Men, if you want to send an invaluable love letter to your wife, get your documents in order. Make an "estate planning kit" for your beloved and include everything she might need to know. Where is your will? Who will carry out its provisions? Who is your attorney? Your accountant? Your insurance agent? What are their telephone numbers? What are your life insurance policy numbers, and how much coverage do they provide? What company pension plans, social security benefits, or other income sources are your heirs entitled to? Who should they contact to receive these benefits?
Make a list of all this information, along with important family names, social security numbers and addresses. Add funeral instructions: Where do you want lobe buried? What sort of service do you want? Are there charities you would like to support via memorial gifts? Once you’ve gathered all the information and documents your heirs will need, organize them in one briefcase or file. This "love letter" may not sound especially romantic, but it may be the most valuable expression of your love and care that your wife and children will ever receive.
—Home Life, September 1998, pages 12-13
A Telex Sound Mate Personal Listening System is available at the Funeral Home to assist the hearing impaired during services in the Chapel. Personal receivers with earphones provide clear reception and are comfortable to use and easy to adjust. Just ask any Funeral Home staff member to provide this listening aid.
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