A few days ago, Prit and I received word that a dear friend of ours had slipped away from life during the early morning hours. After a progressive decline in her health and after fighting dementia, Pattie Simpson was now on the other side of the mysterious veil that separates us from the afterlife. Part of me felt the sorrow of knowing I’d never see my friend again on this side on that veil. Yet another part of me rejoiced that she was now free from all the things that encumbered her in this life. I imagined Pattie waking up to her new life and wondered, as I have countless times, what she was seeing and experiencing for the first time.
I met Pattie at Rock Christian School in Tarboro, N.C. She was the head supervisor and I had just been hired as the elementary supervisor. I treasure the friendship we had, not to mention the patience she bore with me as I became acclimated to my first teaching job, just having graduated from East Carolina University. Pattie was greatly devoted to the Lord, to her work, and to the students who loved her.
After marrying Prit and moving to the mission field, our friendship did not cease. Pattie became a faithful supporter of Rehoboth Ministries and wrote often to encourage us. For a young wife who had left family and the comforts of home, it was so nice not to be forgotten. Pattie’s giving was sacrificial for, by then, she was a widow. Pattie was so frugal that, if she burned a piece of toast, she would just go ahead and eat it rather than “wasting” another piece of bread.
Pattie painstakingly wrote beautiful letters and took precious time out of her schedule to write passages from the Scriptures, prayers from the Episcopal Book of Prayer, and quotes that she thought would be helpful. Her letters were one of the things I missed the most when her health began to fail, followed by her memory. I can still envision those carefully crafted letters with her perfect handwriting.
Many people called Pattie a saint. I’m sure she would have blushed at the term, but I believe the description fits. Pattie never said a mean word about anyone and somehow brought out the best in everyone. She was a devout woman of prayer and an excellent Bible teacher. Before leaving for Haiti, we spent many hours together in conversation and pivotal times of prayer. I’m so grateful that Prit and I had the privilege of knowing Pattie Simpson as a fellow worker, a prayer partner, a faithful supporter, but most of all, as a friend. If anyone exemplified the Proverbs 31 woman, Pattie did. The law of kindness was in her mouth and she has left behind an incredible heritage for her loving family.
Pattie, it’s my turn. I write one final letter to you until I get to see your beautiful face again. I know that it shines now with the glory of God.