There are people in this world that light up a room when they enter it. They live so boldly, love so deeply, and have an ocean of compassion, so much so that it’s a joy just being around them.
Ann was such a person.
Fierce as a lion with a heart the size of Texas, she was a force all on her own. Her life wasn’t easy, and yet, she always focused on her blessings. She didn’t have to preach her faith because she lived it. Those around her could feel it in her hug, see it from the spark in her eyes, hear it in her laughter, and be consoled from it by her tears. She truly was one of the kindest, most compassionate, deeply loving people I’ve ever known.
Married for 32 years to a man steeped in their faith, together, they raised three boys that grew to be incredible men, who carry that same pervasive ability to live God’s word.
Her sons and grandbabies were her greatest joy, and she loved them to distraction. Her legacy of integrity, compassion, and faith will live on in them, of that, I have no doubt.
But it will also shine in every child she taught.
You see, among her many talents, Ann was an incredible early childhood educator.
Her classroom was full of laughter, creativity, and love. She believed in exploration, curiosity, and developing conversation skills. Music, stories, and art were always front and center in her room, and she treated each child as if they were her own. She modeled kindness. She listened with intensity. Most of all, she made sure every child knew they were important–that they mattered in this world. And that is a gift they will carry with them forever.
I loved watching her teach. I loved talking with her about education. I loved learning from her example. I loved her joy.
The world isn’t as bright without her light shining in it. But I take solace in the fact that everyone who knew her carries a flicker of her tenacity, her integrity, and her passion for the church and the teachings of Jesus.
As for me, I’ll take Ann’s precious spark and honor her by letting it shine in my classroom. I’ll let it ignite my compassion for those less fortunate, let it flame for justice for the poor and marginalized of this nation. I’ll let it forge my integrity, so I have the courage to stand up for what is right. And when I feel empty and alone, I’ll let it warm my heart and remind me that where there is compassion, there is love. Where there is empathy, there is hope. And when we forgive, there is grace. And then I’ll do what Ann did. I’ll choose to embrace life and be grateful for the many blessings in it.
So go rest high, my fierce friend. And know that we will honor your good work until we see you again.