Miss Anna Mae was my mother’s best friend. They attended school together and were close during their entire adult lives. It was hard on Miss Anna Mae when my mother slipped into the grip of Alzheimer’s Disease. She had lost her own family and, as my mother drifted away, she lost her buddy as well.
For years she was the proprietor of the J. Stanley Adams Hardware Store which originally belonged to her father in Marion Station. She dedicated herself to that store and kept it open well into her eighties. I think she felt she was still honoring her father, but the store also gave her a chance to see and chat with people she knew. For much of her later years, I’m also sure she was often lonely.
Miss Anna Mae is now in the Genesis Center. She is 97 years-old. My mother spent seven years there before dying in 1995 and I vowed I would never set foot in the building again. A couple of weeks ago, I felt the need to break my vow and stopped to see how Miss Anna Mae was doing. I had not seen her in a few years. I find it difficult to visit Marion because of the “ghosts” that haunt me in my old home town.
My visit to Miss Anna Mae was a sad one. Her mind at this point seems trapped in the past. I tried to tell her who I was but, when I would mention my name, she would say, “I don’t know where he is now.” When I mentioned my mother’s name she said, “You know Agnes’ (my mother) mother died yesterday. Mary Howard (my grandmother)! It’s going to be hard on Agnes because she really loved her mother.” My grandmother died in 1975 and that seems to be the time period where Miss Anna Mae is residing now in her thoughts. However, when I started to get up from beside her chair, she immediately said, “Don’t go.” It made me realize that a small part of her was still here. When I did leave her room, I stood outside the door with tears creasing my cheeks. In some ways the visit made old wounds fresh again.
If you’re saying “Howard, this is not only long, but it’s a downer,” here is the positive part. Miss Anna Mae was a life-long Christian. She is part of the rich fabric of the memories of my boyhood church. She faithfully played both the piano and organ for worship services. I’m sure she was playing “Only Trust Him” when I walked down the aisle on that most important Sunday. She followed Jesus as long as she could and I believe He is carrying her the rest of the way Home. I don’t know why she is still here despite her loss of memories, but I know it is God’s decision and not mine. When she does pass, I believe there is a little woman named Agnes that will be happy to see her in that far better place. I like to imagine they will walk down the golden streets and my mother will give her old friend a lesson on life eternal in God’s Kingdom. The world finally wore down Miss Anna Mae, but her faith has kept her soul intact. Her precious reward is forthcoming.
In honor of my very special mother, Mary Agnes Scott (1912-1995) and her very good friend, Anna Mae Pennewell. I learned about faith and friendship by watching how they lived their lives.
*Anna Mae (Adams) Pennewell passed away on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. I smile knowing she and my mother are renewing their friendship again in God’s Kingdom.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.–1 Corinthians2:9 (KJV)