A couple Saturdays ago, I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answered the call, “Hello?” The person replied, “Jeremiah, this is Pat Jackson. I’m calling to say goodbye.”
We had a conversation for a few more minutes and then it was over. In a very brief amount of time I had said goodbye to a woman who was a significant part of the congregation that I serve, and who also was a significant part of our community.
It was not uncommon to see Pat at a baseball game, basketball game, or football game. Pat had been a teacher here and loved to see students succeed. One former student demonstrated to me his ability to recite the Supreme Court justices from when he had Pat as a teacher. His comment was that she encouraged him to think and to learn.
My experience with Pat was primarily as her pastor. Pat loved the church and she had ideas about how worship was to go and was not afraid to share those ideas. She knew how many times the bell was to be rung before worship, she told me how the bulletin should be formatted, and she would occasionally leave notes on my desk with suggestions on them that were signed, “PJ.”
Now if this is sounding like a eulogy, I apologize. Pat is alive and well. I am lamenting the fact that we as a community didn’t get a chance to properly say goodbye to such a significant woman in the life of our town.
This is encouraging me to do two things. The first is I will be writing Pat a letter to let her know how much I appreciate the six years I was able to serve her. The second thing is that I will make a better effort to tell the people in my life how much I appreciate them. It sounds clichéd to say that we take people for granted but the truth is I have been at quite a few funerals where people say, “I wish I had told them …”
We daily have opportunities to tell loved ones, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and a whole host of other people how significant they are to us. We pass on those opportunities because we assume there will be a better time or a better scenario for us to express those sentiments.
One of the best things in my opinion is to get an encouraging letter in my mailbox. Also great is when I am out in the community and someone tells me thanks for something I have done.
Let us be a community that actively encourages one another and takes the time to thank those who have impacted us in positive ways and have played important roles in making sure that Marion continues to be a great place to live, raise children, work, and retire.