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On the radio show Prairie Home Companion Garrison Keillor always ended his tales of life in Lake Wobegone by declaring that in that mythical town “all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.”

I don’t know about Lake Wobegone but my world is well populated with strong women. My wife, my daughter, my daughters-in-law, my granddaughter. My last two administrative assistants before I retired. Clergy and Laity staff at my church and others with whom I have worked. Women who have a good sense of self and are willing to step up, take responsibility, and use their talents well.

Louise Applegate Adams was one of those strong women until her death August 19, 2016, four months before her 87th birthday. She was a faithful wife, companion, and caregiver to Chuck, her husband of 63 years. She loved her family, especially her four granddaughters, her church, and her community.

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Louise loved life and lived it to the fullest. She believed that every day was a gift to be used wisely. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1950s at age 27. Her zest for life was largely due to the unlikely fact that she was a cancer survivor. Every day was precious to her and presented many opportunities to invest herself for the good of others. She welcomed responsibility to serve others far more than most people. She could keep up with the Energizer Bunny as she lived into the latter part of her eighth decade.

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At her funeral her friends and family remembered Louise with words like determined, strong willed, hard-working, devoted, a lover of learning, courageous, focused. Advocating for women’s rights and giving voice to those who could not speak for themselves were tasks that Louise took on gladly. If she believed in something she was more than willing to stand up and speak up.

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Among other things, Louise’s pastor said she spoke her mind, expected you to do the same and she respected you for it even if you disagreed with her. That is a quality that is all too rare among people.

There is no shortage of people who will boldly express their views and are forceful in making their point. Louise was one of them but she gave you equal opportunity to state your position, even if it was different from hers, and did not demonize you for it. That made her different from most folks.

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We are called upon to “speak the truth in love” and sometimes that seems harsh. However, expressions of different opinions do not have to be mean spirited or demeaning to persons of other persuasions. Louise seemed to understand that. While she seemed more than willing to be the “fly in the ointment” she did not “take her ball and go home” if things didn’t go her way. While she hoped to convince you to see things her way she did not desire to “defeat” you. She understood that making an argument was not the same as having an argument.

Many people avoid conflict and just want everyone to get along. This is an appropriate attitude but it does not require everybody to share the same perspective. It is possible to be respectful and appreciative of others with whom you disagree. That was something Louise realized and practiced.

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Louise was not a peace lover. She was a peace maker. And that means working together even when we disagree. Sometimes I will be right and sometimes you will be right. Sometimes both of us are right and sometimes we are both wrong. But if we continue to be respectful in our relationship and engage in civil dialogue, we will most often come to wise and constructive decisions.

Thank God for the spirit of Louise Adams and the women in which it lives on.

Jamie Jenkins

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