Asbury’s Most Beautiful Woman
Reprinted from the Tidings of May 1998
by John C. Westervelt
It was mid-June 1996. She was passing the offering plates on the center aisle of Asbury on south Sheridan. The sun streaming through the large stained glass window bathed her face in a blended light. I thought, “She must be Asbury’s most beautiful woman.” As she gathered the offering plates to pass on to the next rows, I wondered, “The sanctuary is filled with attractive women. What is so special about this one?”
As I pondered this question, her face, still bright in the light shining through the stained glass image of Jesus, gave me the answer. Pat had a serenity that I might expect only on the face of Jesus.
Over the years I had spoken to Pat Schroeder in the halls of the children’s division where she was a regular teacher and, in later years, a greeter.
When Pat was first diagnosed with cancer nine years ago, Sandy and Paul, my daughter-in-law and son, asked me to pray for their special friend. After a mastectomy, Pat encouraged others as she worked with the Asbury cancer support group.
When cancer returned some years later, Pat and Bob went to Duke University Medical School for six weeks, leaving their young children with friends and family, so Jon and Becca would not miss school. After some good years of remission, the demon cancer returned, but Pat fought on.
The offering was now over. I wondered why Pat volunteered to work as an usher. I guessed that she loves Jesus so much that she cannot stop serving Him.
It was mid-February 1998. As the sanctuary filled, I focused on Pat’s warm smile as she stood in the aisle visiting with a friend. On most Sundays I would find Pat several rows behind me as church let out. It all began many months ago when she offered me a hug. Today we met with a hug. I said, “Sandy told me you have to start a month of daily radiation.” For the first time in our nine-year friendship, tears filled Pat’s eyes as she told me how much she missed Sandy. (Sandy’s family moved to Texas in August). With encircling arms I pulled Pat to me and held on longer than for the friendly embrace. Then loosely holding her at the waist, with my eyes fixed on hers, her smile returned as she said, “You know, Sandy talks with me every Sunday.”
It was March 8, 1998. Sandy told me that Bob Schroeder called on Friday to say that Pat’s cancer has taken a turn for the worse and that they would begin hospice.
At first, I questioned if the struggles and pain of the nine years were worth it. But then I thought I should ask Becca, who began sharing her mother’s ordeal at age two. She is now eleven, and knows her mother, and will forever. I’ll not ask her, but I, as you, know the answer is “yes.”
It was April 11, 1998. Jesus had wept long enough for this child of His so He took her home.
During the years immediately following Pat’s death, her parents, Cleo and Donna from Stillwater, spent a lot of time with Becca and Jon. Donna was there for the mother-daughter questions. In the meantime, God was working on a permanent solution.
Bob Schroeder was faithful in taking Becca and Jon to Sunday school and church at Asbury. I would see Bob taking up the offering in the contemporary service in the sanctuary.
Tess Walker, a single mom, was faithful in taking her daughters, Emily and Erin (near the ages of Becca and Jon), to Asbury.
God began with a friendship between these two families. Love and marriage followed. So Becca had a mother and two sisters for her adolescent years.
Bob and Tess took their children to Asbury’s youth group meetings. Tess decided to go as a leader with the high school juniors and seniors on a mission trip to Guatemala. She was so inspired by the spirit of the people of Guatemala that she returned four more times. Becca went to Guatemala as a youth and twice as a leader while in college.
Recently, I had a message on Facebook that said, “Becca wants to be your friend.” I responded by asking Becca to update me on her life.
Becca’s response to my request follows –
I'm doing quite well these days. I'm currently living in Oklahoma City because I'm a student at OU's Health Sciences Center. I'm working on my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, which is a 3-year program. I just started my 2nd year. I LOVE it. Well, I don't really like the intense amount of studying I do but I love being with patients. I spent the summer in Texas working on a rotation at an outpatient PT clinic. It was so nice to be able to finally use everything that my professors have been teaching us. Now I'm back in OKC for more classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.
I see in your profile picture that you're sitting in your OU shirt amongst all those kids in Cowboy gear. That's what I feel like in my own family! My poor OSU family doesn't like my choice to get my doctorate at OU. I'm surprised that they still invite me to Christmas :) I'm mostly joking but they give me a hard time about it. I always tell them that I would have gone to OSU if OSU had a PT program but since they don't, I was forced to go to OU. What’s a girl to do?
Glad to find you on Facebook! Hope you're having a lovely day!
When I reflect on Becca’s life story, I see God's hand at work. It brings me such joy that I want to share her story with you.
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