A SPECIAL FRIEND Remembrances and Tribute
Edna Kelly McGhee A Very Special Friend June 13, 1934—March 20, 2001
With a heart full of praise and thanksgiving for the life of Mrs. Edna Kelly McGhee, which ended on March 20, 2001, I offer this tribute. At this time of the year when our attention is directed toward mothers, Edna’s life exemplified loving care of her family and others. The meaning of motherhood and of friendship were enhanced by her diligence and loyalty.
When Edna was diagnosed with cancer in June of last year, we all held high hopes for months that radiation would control the spread of the disease which was first detected as a small spot on one of her lungs. Edna accepted the diagnosis with serenity and assured me and others that she was not going to worry about the outcome—that God was in control. She was His child and she was committing her health to Him for whatever might come. Time and time again through the months as Edna and I talked and I told her I was praying for her, she always commented that that was all anyone could do.
One series of treatments led to others, with Edna and her family experiencing the anxious days and nights which come to all too many families in the fight against this devastating disease. When the cancer seemed to be winning the fight, Edna’s family, in desperation, took her to a clinic in Rock Island, Illinois, where one of her daughters lives. On Tuesday, March 20, the day before she was to have the last of a series of chemotherapy, she suffered a heart attack and died immediately. The sudden death was a shock to those who knew and loved Edna.
Edna had been an employee and like one of our family for more than thirty years. Far beyond this, she had been a treasured friend to each member of our family. She was a trusted confidante of our children through their adolescence, listening patiently to their woes, often directed at me and my requirements of them. She was helpful to them and yet at the same time supported me. She took time with them. Our daughter Susan cooks more like Edna—the ultimate standard of excellence—than any of us. Edna taught her in the best way, taking time to let her cook.
Her friendship did not stop within our immediate family but included our extended family and many of our close friends. They understood our tie to Edna. They too enjoyed her friendship and mourn her death.
Edna was a devout Christian. She loved the Lord and expressed this in faithful attendance and service to her church, South Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, the same church where she had come to know the Lord as a child. She was a member of the choir, the usher board, and other auxiliaries. She was pleased when the church could have a fellowship hall. One special use for the fellowship hall was as a place to serve meals for revival ministers and Edna was excited when it was her turn to assist with a meal, and she sought and prepared special recipes. She also believed in supporting her church with her monetary offerings.
Edna’s "Farewell Celebration" was held at the Tallahatchie-Oxford Missionary Baptist Building on March 24. Our children (Andy, Susan, and Beth), granddaughter Mary Beth, and I attended. [Don very much regretted he had an out-of-town commitment.]
Although my ear problem kept me from hearing what was said, I was touched by the dignity, sacredness, and personal touch of the funeral. I was especially sorry not to be able to hear Edna's friends' comments when they were invited to come forward and briefly share what Edna had meant to them. My family told me the recurring theme was Edna’s trust in God. One person recounted that when someone sought advice, Edna would suggest "Keep holding on." Andy spoke for our entire family, expressing our deep appreciation of Edna and all the good she represented. The huge crowd in attendance and numerous lovely floral offerings gave evidence of the love of Edna’s many friends.
Edna was buried in the cemetery of Providence United Methodist Church, where her husband and some of her children are members. The cemetery is very near their home off Hurricane Road west of Abbeville. Andy and I went to the cemetery for the graveside service, and I was honored when Edna’s children asked that I sit with them for this time. The entire service was well planned by Edna’s children and well conducted by Reverend Terry Wortham with the assistance of Reverend Leroy Wadlington, Reverend Wayne Bass, and Reverend Kenneth Bonner. I was comforted by all parts of the service. Edna must have looked down with loving appreciation for the proceedings.
Edna was a few years younger than I; however, she was wiser in many ways. She often tactfully pointed out to me how a task I was struggling with might be accomplished in an easier way. She took pride in her work and went about doing what needed to be done. I admired the fact that though she did not enjoy cooking, she did not let this keep her from being an extremely good cook—and I often complimented her not only on her cooking but also on going cheerfully about this task. Everyone in the family had favorite Edna dishes; two everyone agreed on were fried chicken and turnip greens.
Edna showed true friend~hip lii many ways. When she recognized the importance of an event to me, she often rearranged her own schedule to help me. If I asked for her opinion, she would not simply tell me what she felt I wanted to hear. She would truthfully (but kindly) share her thoughts. Her bits of wisdom were often expressed in her own special way—clear and descriptive. One morning a number of years ago, I was out of sorts with everything and everybody. Edna let my attitude rock along for a time, then she said, "Miss Patsy, you need to remember you ain’t the only one it’s raining on." Perfect grammar could never say it that well! It takes a good friend to tell you what you might prefer not to hear.
When two people have the bond of friendship, being together is a pleasure. When Edna and I were working together, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting, often talking of our church activities and about our children and grandchildren. Sometimes we shared the troubling aspects in our lives, each of us with complete confidence that whatever we said was secure in our friend. Edna was a good person to have as a friend.
During the past several years Edna came to our house only one day a week. On those days I asked only that she cook special things. Between these days, I often called her to ask her to pray for a friend, for a burden I was working through, or for a troubling time in my own life.
Edna and her husband James reared a family of six fine children and enjoyed helping with the grandchildren. She set a good example in self esteem and in respect for others. I knew Edna’s mother, Mrs. Allie Kelly, many years ago, and Edna learned many of the good traits she passed on to her children from her mother. James had a stroke nine years ago, and Edna faithfully cared for his every need in their home—even during her illness as long as she was able.
I miss Edna I find myself thinking of her as though she is at her home. I see people on the lake fishing—one of her favorite pastimes—and look to see if the car might be hers. She fished not too long before she was hospitalized for the last time. I find myself at the telephone thinking of checking on her only to stop short when I remember she is not there. In God’s own time, I will be with Edna again and we can pick up where we left off.
WHAT SORT OF FRIEND?
I’d like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me,
I’d like to be the help that you are always glad to be,
I’d like to mean as much to you each minute of the day
As you have meant,
Good Friend of Mine,
to me along the way;
And this is just to wish somehow
that I could but repay
A portion of the gladness
that you’ve strewn along my way,
And could I have one wish this year
this only would it be,
I’d like to be the sort of friend
that you have been to me!
—Edgar A. Guest
SHINING ARMOR—A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend; one human soul whom we can trust utterly; who knows the best and the worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults; who will speak the honest truth to us, while the world flatters us to our face and laughs at us behind our back; who will give us counsel and reproof in the day of prosperity and self-conceit; but who, again, will comfort and encourage us in the day of difficulty and sorrow when the world leaves us alone to fight our own battle as we can.
— Charles Kingsley
A friend is one to whom
one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart
chaff and grain together;
knowing that the gentlest of hands
will take and sift it,
keep what is worth keeping
and with a breath of kindness,
blow the rest away.
—Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
A MOTHER’S LOVE
At this season of the year especially, our thoughts turn to her who gave us birth. Like so many modern customs and practices, "Mother’s Day," which is celebrated the second Sunday in May, dates back to a festival derived from the custom of mother worship in ancient Greece. With the coming of Christianity it soon became a worship of the mother church and a religious, holy day during Lent, when children brought special gifts to their mothers. In the United States, official recognition of Mother’s Day was given by Congress on May 8, 1914. The white carnation signifying sweetness, purity, and endurance, was adopted as the emblem.
Mother’s Day is here and though we attach no spiritual significance to it it is well that we be reminded of the blessing of godly motherhood. Is your mother alive? How long has it been since you found time to visit her? Today pay a visit to mother—or if the distance is too great, give her a call on the phone. The cheapest thing one can do is just sending a card written by others. Why not write a personal letter to her today? Think of all the sacrifices she has made for you— doing without that you might have!
A teacher asked little Katie a question in fractions. She said, "If your mother made a pie and there were ten at the table: father, mother, and eight children, how much of the pie would you get?" She replied, "One ninth, teacher." "Don’t you mean one-tenth, Katie? Don’t you know your fractions?" "Yes," said she, "I know my fractions—but you don’t know my mother. She would say, 'I’ll do without—I don’t care for any tonight."'
—M. R. DeHaan, M.D. Bread for Each Day
If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.
— I Corinthians 13:7(TLB)
• A number of years ago a popular Mother’s Day card summed up what many adult women feel. The cover of the card read, "Now that we have a mature, adult relationship, there s something I’d like to tell you." On the inside were these words: "You’re still the first person I think of when I fall down and go boom."
None of us ever get beyond feeling a "need" for our mothers—the one person who has nurtured us, comforted us, and cared for us as no other person ever has or ever will. It is only when we are mothers ourselves, however, that we tend to realize how important our own mothers were to us. As Victoria Farnsworth has written:
Not until I became a mother did I understand how much my mother had sacrificed for me.
Not until I became a mother did I feel how hurt my mother was when I disobeyed.
Not until I became a mother did I know how proud my mother was when I achieved.
Not until I became a mother did I realize how much my mother loves me.
Why not call your mother today and tell her how much you love her.
A little boy sat on the curb in front of his house one day, his head cradled in his hands. A friend walked by and said, "Hey, watcha worried about?"
The boy said, "I’ve been thinking. Dad slaves away at his job so I’ll have lots of cool toys and plenty of food and a nice house with a room all my own. He told me last night he’s working hard so I can go to college someday if I want to."
"That’s causing you to worry?" asked the friend. "Well, that’s not all," said the boy. "Mom works hard every day cooking and doing the laundry and taking me places and helping me when I get sick."
"I don’t get it," said the friend. "What do you have to worry about? It sounds like your life is just fine!" The little boy said, "I’m worried they might try to escape!"
During a special program at church, a little girl was to recite the Scripture she had been assigned for the occasion. When she got in front of the crowd, however, the sight of hundreds of eyes peering at her caused her to have a bout of stage fright. She completely forgot her verse and was unable to utter a single word.
Her mother, sitting in the front row leaned forward, and after several attempts, finally got her daughter’s attention. She moved her lips and gestured but her daughter didn’t seem to comprehend what she was doing. Finally, the mother whispered the opening phrase of the verse she was to recite, "I am the light of the world."
The little girl’s face lit up and she smiled with confidence. "My mother is the light of the world!" she announced boldly.
Her words brought a smile to the face of each audience member, of course, and yet upon reflection, most had to admit that she had declared an eloquent truth. A mother is the light of her child’s world.
Let your light shine brightly today on your child’s behalf.
—All three selections from God’s Little Devotional Book for Moms, Honor Books, Inc., 1995.
There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by "rests," and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests."
Look before you leap.
He who hesitates is lost.
Two heads are better than one.
If you want something done right, do it yourself.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
You can’t tell a book by its cover.
Clothes make the man.
Many hands make light work.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
It’s never too late to learn.
Never sweat the small stuff.
God is in the details.
—Compiled by Robert Fulghum for Maybe (Maybe Not), Vilard Books:
New York, 1993.
A BOOK SUGGESTION
A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen, provides a wealth of advice in a few minutes of reading. Ms. Quindlen describes how at 19 her life was changed forever by the death of her 40-year old mother. When her mother became seriously ill with cancer, the author left the freedom she was enjoying as a college freshman to return home to care for her mother. She says her mother’s death gave her a new perspective on mortality, death, pain, and love which she will carry with her always.
Among the things she learned and passes on are: to think of life as a great gift not to be taken for granted; to appreciate the simple pleasures of life; to think of life as a journey and not a destination; to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back. She says how easy it is to waste our lives—our days, our hours, our minutes. She challenges us to take charge of our lives and make them count for ourselves and others.
In addition to Ms. Quindlen’s thoughtful and well expressed ideas, more than half of the pages of this 50-page book are covered with black-and-white photographic glimpses of a positive, happy life.
The book was published by Random House in 2000. The author is well known for her New York Times columns, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and for her books which include Black and Blue, One True Thing, and Object Lessons. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek.
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 1, 2001, through April 29, 2001.
Mr. John H. Holder / February 1, 2001
Mrs. Irene M. Getchell / February 4, 2001
Mrs. Grace Mills Tyler / February 6, 2001
Mrs. Anita S. "Ann" Scoggin / February 7, 2001
Mrs. Margaret Grace Jones / February 8, 2001
Mrs. Betty Frances Cheney / February 11, 2001
Mrs. Alta Faust Lauderdale / February 12, 2001
Mr. Theron Eldrid Hodge / February 13, 2001
Mr. James Russell Leggitt / February 15, 2001
Mr. Robert Wayne Allen / February 16, 2001
Mr. Dennis Christopher Roberts / February 16, 2001
Mr. Larry Dwight Stewart / February 18, 2001
Mr. Sammy Gray Clark / February 19, 2001
Mr. Woodrow Wilson Cole / February 20, 2001
Mrs. Opal Miller Worthy / February 2l, 2001
Mr. Jeffrey Paul Anthony / February 2l, 2001
Mrs. Camilla Ragsdale Buckley / February 25, 2001
Mr. Robert Glenn Payne / February 26, 2001
Mrs. Marjorie Faust Wells / February 26, 2001
Mrs. Jessie Mae Griffin Cost / February 27, 2001
Mrs. Christine Champion Tubbs / March 1, 2001
Mrs. Myrtice Pruitt Sanders / March 2, 2001
Mrs. Myrtle Irene Evans / March 4, 2001
Mr. Johnny "John Lee" Berryhill / March 4, 2001
Mrs. Rachel Martha Kisner / March 5, 2001
Mr. Harold Hilton Knight / March 14, 2001
Mrs. Cheryl Lorton Anderson / March 14, 2001
Mr. Charles Baxter Starnes / March 17, 2001
Mrs. Wesley Ann Randle / March 18, 2001
Mrs. Olivia Lewis Nabors / March 20, 2001
Mrs. Margaret W. Flynn / March 2l, 2001
Mr. James Alvin Marquis / March 22, 2001
Mr. Carl Leonard Carter / March 23, 2001
Mr. Eldridge Claudine King / March 24, 2001
Mr. Venn Herman Morrow / March 26, 2001
Mrs. Willodean Spencer Estes / March 27, 2001
Mr. Larry O’Neal Williams / March 30, 2001
Mr. William Matthew Karner / April 1, 2001
Mr. Walter Frankiin Bryant / April 2, 2001
Mr. David Hartzell Culver / April 3, 2001
Mr. Billy Glen Starnes / April 3, 2001
Mr. William Lamar Kisner / April 5, 2001
Mr. George Hood Dooley, Jr / April 10, 2001
Mr. Robert Adolph Mattern / April 22, 2001
Mrs. Vera Job Locke / April 24, 2001
Mrs. Ruby Lee Roy McFadden / April 29, 2001
Mrs. Bess Davis Lusk / April 29, 2001