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We need more like Clara

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This community recently lost an incredible advocate —  Clara Sims. Clara moved to Harrison in 2004 after marrying Dave. She was a Georgia peach in the truest sense of the words.

The first time I met Clara, it was for a community choir Messiah practice. Another dear friend had encouraged me for years to sing with the choir, but had never made the time until 2004. The late Charles Butler was the director at the time and when he found out I was an alto, he directed me to sit by Clara. We became instant friends. Clara never met a stranger and she made me feel so welcome. In reality, I was scared to death. As a church piano player, I don’t get a lot of singing time, but I have a decent alto voice —  not a fabulous solo alto, but I harmonize well. But still I had never sang the Messiah music before, so I was scared, and she calmed my nerves and helped me through that practice. 

After that first meeting, I was always “supposed” to sit by Clara. She said it helped her if I sang into her ear. I really doubt I was that big of a help —  she always did just fine. But she made me feel special and important.

I have a feeling Mr. Butler regretted putting the two of us together because we always had so much fun. I’m pretty sure we got the evil eye a couple of times for talking instead of counting and listening to the other sections practice their parts. I can picture Clara giving him a big heavenly hug and the two of them laughing about us getting in trouble! We both loved him so much.

Then as things happened, we were together for other community events. I wrote about the Fuller House project she was a part of, where people would volunteer to help elderly who might need a wheelchair ramp built, and other assistance.

Then I got pulled into her volunteerism web by attending Circle of Friends’ meetings at Shoneys and covering those events —  and even made a trip to Little Rock with the group to visit Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Even though we didn't always see each other often, we both knew we were just a text or phone call away and she always helped. And as a friend at the funeral mentioned, she loved to answer phone calls with a “Hello Sunshine.” Or “Hello Beautiful.” (It was suggested that we continue this tradition in Clara’s honor! It sure does make you feel special, instead of the dreaded gruff “Hello” voice when you can tell you’ve not made their day by calling!)

The last time she sent me a text was right before Messiah rehearsals this year —  checking to see if I was going to sing. I admitted I wouldn’t be able to this year, because of my Christmas visit to Florida. She totally understood and told me she wouldn’t be able to either because of her scheduled heart surgery. I promised to pray for her and God did answer our prayers and healed her completely. I was just hoping she could return to Harrison. Her presence in Heaven isn’t near as easy to contact as her Harrison phone number.

What can we learn from someone like Clara? Enjoy life! She didn’t let any grass grow under her feet when she moved to this community. She immediately got involved — Rotary, Board of Realtors, her church —  and so much more. 

Clara did everything she could to make our community the best it could be. I’m so thankful God blended our paths together so many times. She loved her Lord and served Him well. Clara was the light of Jesus wherever she went. She loved her family and loved mine, too. 

I’m sorry if you never had the chance to meet Clara. You really missed out. But Clara would want you to know it’s not too late to make your Heavenly reservation and love this community and others well.

For such a tiny lady, Clara left some big shoes to fill. Who is going to step up and be that shining light for Jesus? Who is going to make the next newbee to Messiah practice feel welcome? Make sure you meet Jesus and accept Him as Savior before your expiration date. 

I have a feeling Clara is already saving me a seat at the Heavenly Community Choir and when we sing Messiah up there, we will make no mistakes and hopefully avoid an evil eye from the director!

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