Weather could postpone, but couldn’t prevent, the outpouring of love from Avondale United Methodist Church to retiring organist Linda Prewitt.
Linda, the church’s organist for over 12 years, retired as of the end of December 2013. A reception in her honor had been planned for Jan. 5, 2014, but a winter snowstorm postponed it until yesterday, Sunday, January 26, 2014.
The church served its usual high quality of refreshments for the reception: a lovely assortment of cookies, served with punch. Of especial note were the cookies with musical notes on them.
The Church’s elementary Sunday School classes opened the reception by singing a song about how “we love you, Linda.” The song ended with a presentation of flowers to Linda by the children.
Elizabeth Boman presented Linda with a money tree collected from the church as a thank-you.
Jean Hallaway read the plaque she presented to Linda with an Irish Friendship blessing on it:
Irish Friendship Blessing
May God give you …
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for every prayer.
Various people shared memories of Linda. One such memory was what she said when she made her rare mistake: “It’s hard to be perfect all the time.” In honor of that, there was a card on the table beside her that said:
“It’s hard to be perfect all the time” But Linda was mighty close.
Patsy Prather’s story was about leaving the church after choir. Everyone was headed out together, and Linda was headed to her car, parked next to the dumpster, when suddenly she let out a large scream. Everyone turned to see what it was. Linda was there, being stared down by a large racoon. That was the first time, but it wasn’t the last.
Valerie Goodman shared how her one daughter wanted a CD for music at her wedding, and Valerie said, “you aren’t having a CD while we have an organist like Linda.” To which her daughter said, “you will have to pay for it.” After the wedding her daughter told her, “mom, that was the best money you spent on the wedding.”
Suzie Conaway’s story was about her part in Linda becoming the organist. Suzie was in the choir loft one week, and saw someone who from the back looked like her stepmother. So afterwards she went down, to see it wasn’t her stepmother, but Linda. While they were talking, she found out that Linda was looking for a church, and that she would love to be able to play organ again. Suzie took her card, and two week’s later the then-organist had to retire to take care of family concerns. Suzie turned in the card, and Linda became organist.
The church youth, not there because there were attending WOW 2014 in Springfield, sent their greetings. One of their observations was that Linda was the only church organist they had ever known. Many had been born during her tenure.
Pastor Gary Ponder-Williams noted that Linda had served Avondale for over 12 years, out of a career of 35 years of organ playing. Avondale got her for the longest and the best.
People also shared about Linda’s health miracles. Back in October 2008 she had a burst brain aneurysm, but came back out of it with her music intact. Just to live through one is a miracle, but she continued playing all of her instruments. One of her first things she said after coming to in the hospital was “where is the piano,” which she continued playing during her physical therapy.
Betsy, the kids and I started attending Avondale right before the aneurysm, and joined the choir right after it occurred. We kept on hearing people talk about her, and are very glad we got to know her in the 6 years since.
Yes, the reception definitely showed that AUMC loves Linda. We wish you and Eldon well in your retirement, and look forward to seeing you again soon, hopefully many times before we all meet again on the other side of the great divide. One way or the other, we all know we shall meet again some day — and that music shall be involved.