Every pastor has favorite parishioners.  We try hard not to let anybody know it – or at least if we are smart we do –  but we have them.  Geraldine Patrick was one of mine. We celebrated Jerry’s life a few weeks ago.  She died “old and full of years” as the Bible says, and lived a rich life.

I loved Jerry for several reasons. First, she let me in. Jerry’s husband Joe was my Clerk of Session when he dropped dead on the golf course after sinking his putt on the 18th hole.  We both grieved him terribly in our own ways.  I started stopping by Jerry’s house after work to visit with her.  It became a more frequent  thing after she confessed to me that she and Joe often indulged in a glass of wine about that time of day but that she would not pour one for herself.  I was happy to take on the job of pastoral pourer, and so it went.  Jerry let me see from the inside what it was like to go suddenly from wife to widow.  During those happy hour visits I grew to love her dearly.

Another reason I loved Jerry (and Joe too) was that though they had significant financial means and supported the church generously, they never used their money to control.  I knew enough even then to know what a rare thing that is. Since then I have seen much more of our  sad old world and know that this kind of restraint is almost unheard of. For them it was just who they were- humble, balanced, generous.

And generous brings me to the last part of this love letter.  Jerry knew that pastors are only human.  She was an encourager and supporter.  And she also knew that we need to get away sometimes.  Her condominium on Hilton Head became one of my bolt holes, places I knew I could go when things just got to be too much, or when Bill and I needed to reconnect.  She offered it freely just because she liked to share what she had with those she loved.

Jerry Patrick was one of the Great Ones.  May her tribe increase.


Geraldine Patrick