We visit frequently about our great good fortune of living in a rural area in which we can have so many friends of all ages. Among those many friends, we usually have a few heart’s friends, those who are particularly close and who stand by us no matter what we may do or say.
On Thursday, one of those heart’s friends, Mrs. Kathryn Stephenson, passed away, leaving a major vacancy in my life. Although I had known her most of my life, I hadn’t really become close to her until after she moved to Edmond, Okla. We began corresponding and then calling each other. For a number of years, we talked to each other almost every day, thus keeping in close touch and strengthening our friendship with each conversation.
Although she accomplished many things in her life, I believe her ability to form a lasting friendship was one of her main strengths. I always remained in awe of her because of her being such an intelligent lady and was even a little shy around her for many years because I felt I couldn’t measure up to her standards. Well, she showed me during these last years that she could meet me as an equal and could respect me for who I am, despite my limitations. Her humility was one of her most outstanding attributes, and she could make almost anyone feel at ease in her presence.
Because we were both proud to be teachers, we talked much about our students and what they have meant to us. She made her last trip home to listen to one of those students speak at our annual historical society meeting. David Stratton, who calls her one of his favorite teachers of all time, came home to speak about the history of our railroad, and Kathryn was determined to hear her “boy” speak. He and I had a good visit last week about her and about how much she means to both of us.
Howard Abercrombie was also one of her students who has kept in touch with her through the years. We had a good visit about our friend and teacher last week.
Fred Witty, now of Tennessee, also talked with me. He remained close to Kathryn because he was her brother’s best friend and became one of her dearest friends.
Listening to her friends recount memories of her has been a most moving experience during these days and has certainly made me aware of how very much she was respected by those who knew and loved her. We have laughed and cried together as we have recalled stories about her, and we know she will live on in our hearts.
Losing a friend is a most difficult experience, but having had such a friend has been the greatest gift of all. Thank you, Kathryn for being that friend and for always being a teacher. Let’s close this column as you often closed your letters. “Isle of View!”