Monday, May 04, 2009

She Kept Her Appointment.

"And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment ..." (Hebrews 9:27, NAS)

I learned today that my friend, Mrs. Willie Mae Dennis, had kept that appointment.

She'd been ailing over the past few months .. I don't recall seeing her at church for quite a while .. and yesterday our Pastor told us she was in a coma. But other than that, over the last 28 years that we've been at FBC Pelham, she'd been there every Sunday.

We knew her from church, of course, but I had another introduction to this remarkable lady. From 1980 through 1984, I was a City Councilman here in Pelham, and she was our Municipal Clerk. With all the meetings, and the pre-council meeting sessions in the Mayor's office, we'd spent a decent amount of time around each other. And she was, indeed, quite a lady.

Willie Mae had been married when she was young, but after a too-short time married, her husband was killed in a train-car crash. She never again married.

She was a member of the Lee family, a prominent family in Pelham; her father had been the judge in Pelham when court was held in a little concrete block building that still stands on the property where Willie Mae lived,to this day. That was also the home from which she left on the last journey each of us must take.

In addition, the Lee family were the sellers .. at a remarkably good price .. of the 22.5 acres upon which FBC Pelham sits today.

She was every bit a lady, but one of my most precious memories of her has to do with an episode in which her spunk and spirit really showed through:

One day during my stay on the Council, a man (apparently high on something) walked into City Hall ... how do I say this ... buck naked. Willie Mae was up front by the door and immediately grabbed a coat off the rack, chased him down, and wrapped him up as best she could.

There were what Willie Mae referred to as "her girls" working in the office, and by golly she was going to protect them from that sight, much as a momma bear protects her cubs.

I still remember the night she told us that story in the pre-council chambers, and the merciless ribbing we gave her over that incident. From the spark in her eye, I'd say she enjoyed the reporting, as did she a month later when she read the police report from the evening, from the minutes of that night's meeting ... when the Police Chief reported only "one miscellaneous unnamed incident".

I don't think the words "one miscellaneous unnamed incident" ever got more laughter than they got from the Council, that evening. Except maybe when Willie Mae read them a month later, from the minutes.

She was much more than can be described .. Chairman of the Trustees ... Sunday School Teacher ... the longest-term member of our church ... trust me, the list could go on. But I'll just say she was a precious person to me, and to a lot of others.

You were a class act, Mrs. Dennis. It was a real pleasure to call you "friend".

I'll see you later.

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