remembering Sarah Lucille (1911-2004)

Sarah Lorraine has a namesake: Sarah Lucille Hughes Finch. And today would have been her 97th birthday.

We didn’t share a bloodline or a family name but she touched my life in a way that I know I can’t adequately express with words. She came into my life when I was a 16 year-old senior in high school through a program called Seniors Helping Seniors. My friends and I, looking to beef up our high school service resumes, volunteered for the program that matched teenagers with older people who might need assistance over the holidays with tasks like putting up Christmas trees, hanging lights, or addressing cards. None of my friends had luck getting in touch with their matches. They were either hung up on or dismissed quickly with a rough word. I was not looking forward to making my first call to Mrs. Finch and almost decided it wasn’t even worth the effort. A nagging feeling in the back of my mind made me pick up the phone after days and days of procrastination and when she answered I quickly explained to her who I was and what I was available to help her with. I’ll never, ever, as long as I live forget what she said to me when I was done with my obligatory 15 second spiel:

“Let me tell you what I ain’t got. I ain’t got no lights, I ain’t got no tree, and I ain’t got no family.”

I was taken aback to say the least. And when I arrived at her home later that afternoon I found all of that to be true. Her little house was old but well-kept. Large but lonely. It was obvious that she didn’t get much company and after a short visit she made me promise to see her the next day. It wasn’t long before seeing her became a regular part of my day; in fact, it was becoming the part I looked forward to the most. She had many stories to tell – like about the time she rode a pig as a little girl, the dance she would go to at the American Legion and nursing her father, mother, and brother during their last days.

But she was also a great listener. She wanted to know all about my life at school and she had a knack for remembering every detail although she never, ever remembered a name. For the entirety of our 8 year relationship that lasted until her death in 2004 she called me “the baby”. If she ever tried to call me by my name it came out “Ernie”. By the time I went away to college the year after our friendship started I had become her lifeline to the world. I worried about her when I was away but my mom quickly stepped up and became her most reliable caretaker – taking her to the doctor, sorting out and paying her bills, and keeping her company almost daily.

I visited her everytime I came home from college but when I finally graduated and got married I thought it might break her heart. I was her baby. And she was my little old lady. We moved to Ohio and started our married life. We called and visited as often as we could. When she died in April of 2004 we got in our car and drove the 10 hours back home to be at her funeral. I cried like a baby (her baby) during the whole thing – especially when Brent and my stepdad gave her eulogy. I missed her terribly (and still do) but I found comfort in the fact that she knew how much we loved her. And she knew that she finally had a family.

And she knew that if we ever had a daughter we would name her Sarah.

JenniferApril 6, 2010 - 12:42 pm

Such a touching story Erin. Thank you for sharing!

SierraApril 8, 2010 - 2:32 pm

Ah, Erin. Such beautiful sweetness. I can feel the love and kinship. What a blessing you all were to her! Such joy you brought! :’)

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ten on tuesday. » The PigBearApril 6, 2010 - 11:32 am

[…] 6. Today would also have been the 99th birthday of my dear Sarah Lucille Hughes Finch, whose namesake is our Sarah Lorraine. I wrote about Mrs. Finch two years ago on her birthday. If you haven’t read about her, please help me honor her memory today by reading our story. […]

[…] 23 I said goodbye to my little old lady, Sarah Lucille Hughes Finch, forever. I braced for saying goodbye to the friends we’d made in Dayton. I dreaded saying […]

ten on tuesday. » The PigBearMarch 19, 2013 - 6:46 pm

[…] two of my favorite people – my neighbor/friend/former co-worker extraordinaire, Heather AND my daughter’s namesake. It’s bound to be a good […]

[…] from leadership, which has since been reversed), she “adopted” an elderly woman who my daughter is now named after, and even briefly became a rabid college basketball fan. She is now married to a wonderful man who […]

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