In 2008 when I was finishing a degree in adult development, I needed a capstone project in order to graduate. As I considered my options, I thought about a woman I know. Since she always wanted to document her story, I suggested we work on it together.
Over a period of a few weeks, we met regularly. I interviewed her and recorded the conversations. I tape recorded each of our meetings and then I was able to craft my project using her words.
She was the wife of a pastor. Her husband was considered a mission pastor. His strength was building new churches or growing existing ones. His greatest asset was his wife. She worked diligently by his side, doing whatever they were called to do. They moved often, eventually serving in six different churches, all in different communities.
She was just twenty years old when she hosted overnight guests of the church the day after they returned from their honeymoon. When they had no organist, she taught herself to play the organ. When the new church needed a women’s group, she started one. When the altar rail needed to be stained, she was there. A gifted pianist, she successfully developed new students each time they moved. Eventually, she was chosen for a national position within the women’s organization of the church and a regional position within the church itself.
What started as an academic project turned into a labor of love. She enjoyed reviewing the highs and the lows of her life. She even developed a fresh appreciation for some of the events when she reviewed them in the context of her life overall. Throughout her life, her husband had always been the focus of attention. After sharing her story, she knew more than ever that her life was significant, that she had made a difference.
Her family is grateful we did the project when we did. The woman is now a lovely 92 years old. She still gets around. She remarried a few years after her husband died and she lives with her second husband in a retirement community, surrounded by friends. Unfortunately, her memory is failing. Many of the stories she shared, she wouldn’t remember today. Names and dates would elude her. We got lucky.
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