Last week I had the privilege of directing the song service at the funeral of my friend Miss Vera, who passed away at the age of 84 years old. Vera had asked me over 10 years ago, in a very serious tone, if I would lead the singing at her funeral. I told her that I wasn’t sure I could, since she was so ornery she would probably outlive me.
Vera was a member of our church and I have known her for about 24 years. She was widowed in her late 50 with no children and lived alone ever since on a 20 acres of land in rural Tennessee. She had a tough demeanor at times but has been a great encouragement to me over the years.
Like most of her generation, she was a life long Democrat. She used to kid me quite a bit about being a Republican. Over the years as the Democrats became represented by the Clintons and President Obama, Vera struggled more and more with being a Democrat. She knew there were problems with the Democrat party, but couldn’t bring herself to vote Republican.
Six years ago, I made an unsuccessful bid for the Tennessee State Senate. During the primary, Vera came up to me one day and handed me a donation check for $100. I was stunned. I knew that was a lot of money for her to donate to anyone, much less a Republican. She immediately told me to take the money and wouldn’t hear of taking it back. I received many generous donations, but that $100 was the most significant donation I every received.
Several months later, Vera confessed to me that she didn’t vote for me in the GOP primary. She had never voted in a Republican primary and when she went to vote she couldn’t bring herself to ask for the GOP ballot in front of her friends, some of which worked the polls. I told her that was quite OK, that I appreciated her support in whatever form. I was always impressed with that confession. She didn’t have to tell me that.
We buried Miss Vera on Friday on a beautiful fall day. I thought about that donation as we visited with her family.
Miss Vera served as a reminder for me that politics is personal. As we fight liberal ideology and socialism we should remember that personal connections matter. We should also remember that change is hard. We should strive to make it easier for friends we want to persuade, not harder.
I will miss my Democrat friend.