My mom called Saturday with the news that Mrs. Juanita Ragans passed away. Immediately a flood of memories washed over me as tears ran down my cheeks. Mrs. Juanita loved us kids. Almost all of my childhood church memories have her in them. She was the pianist for our church and boy was she talented.
Regularly she had a houseful of us middle schoolers lounging on her couch, laying in the floor, or sitting beside her on the piano bench, soaking in the beautiful melodies she played on the piano. You know, some people have learned the technical methods and can play the piano; but to Mrs. Juanita, the piano was an extension of her soul. I could feel her love and energy flowing through every note.
My brother and I started singing in the choir with our parents when we were in middle school. Often Mrs. Juanita chose a difficult piece of music and needed one of the teenagers to turn pages for her. I absolutely adored turning pages for Mrs. Juanita. I can still see her gentle nod and smile as she prompted me to turn the page. So many times during our practice sessions I would either turn it too fast or not fast enough and then both of us lost our place and we just started to laugh and tried it again.
While music was important to Mrs. Juanita, she also knew the value of relationships. You didn’t just stop by her house; you joined her on the porch or went out to the swing and stayed for a visit. I don’t know how many hours my family spent sitting in those rocking chairs or swinging in that white swing staring out at Lake Francis. We caught up on people and solved all of the world’s problems during those visits. Mrs. Juanita also had her group of folks she regularly checked on. She kept photos of everyone on her fridge and regularly made phone calls and visits to the people she cared for and loved. On holidays, she always made a point to invite us down to visit with her family. We gained awesome bonus friends as a result of her being a part of our life.
As I think of the life that Mrs. Juanita Ragans lived, I’m inspired. She didn’t have to invest in us teenagers, but she did. She didn’t have to offer her talents to the Lord, but she did. She didn’t have to invite people into her home, but she did. She didn’t have to walk with Jesus, but she did. And because she did, many were blessed and God was honored by the life she lived.
I’m sad that such sweet times have come and gone, but then again, I’m thankful that they came at all. I can still see her fingers gliding up and down the ivory keys and hear her gentle voice etched with a tender vibrato as she joined the piano with her soprano tone. Oh the reunion she had this week as she embraced Mr. C. Vernon once again and was ushered into the presence of Jesus himself. She has no more pain and no more tears. I can only imagine the sweet music she is making and experiencing on those golden streets today with her Savior and Lord.
You will be missed, my sweet friend. We are grateful for your life, a life well lived.