Regina: Chapter Two

Regina wanted to get a college degree and she worked hard for three years, especially on math, to get credits. Her partner, Julie Bradshaw, spent many a weekend coaching her, and Board Member Judy Roskowski worked with her during the week. Their joint effort was so worth all the work to Regina because she was awarded an A the second time through.

One of her great jokes on me was telling our congregation I was going to have a live manger scene in front of our church at Christmas. She was so convincing, people believed her, and I howled with laughter! The next year she announced plans had changed and said, “ Reverend Joyce is going to have an inflatable manger scene out front during Christmas - animals and all”.

Everyone howled at that!

Meanwhile, each Christmas she kept making holiday earrings and ultimately raised more than $5000 for the building campaign.

Two years ago, Regina shared with me that a CT scan revealed she had a large tumor on her liver. She told me whatever it was, she would not accept chemotherapy or radiation treatment. She engaged the surgeon who removed growths on her liver previously. Surgery was scheduled and the surgeon removed 20% of her liver and Regina changed her diet. We all prayed and yet the cancer came back.

Regina, who had kept working, finally accepted the advice of her friends and went on a leave of absence.

She continued to attend church and to perform sign language during the Lord’s Prayer and the closing Peace Song. She also kept her sense of humor. She was losing weight and reluctantly accepted being in a wheelchair from the front door to the sanctuary. Our Congregation Care Team brought her meals at home and helped her as she became weaker.

Her family in Philadelphia, brothers, sister, cousins and other relatives, supported her by coming to visit often. Then one Sunday after our second service, her brother John spoke with me saying Regina wanted me to perform her memorial service. After telling him I would be honored to do so, I asked him if he would consider having a living memorial service in which we would celebrate Regina with her present. John first cried, and then said he was in favor of it and suggested we ask Regina. We immediately talked with her, sharing my proposal and she loved the idea!

We scheduled her service for mid-afternoon Friday, June 2, followed by a potluck dinner. Regina selected the songs, singers and the readings.

June 2, when she was driven into the church parking lot and saw it filled with cars, she cried. She had no idea so many people wanted to be with her at her service.

I did my best to keep the number of speakers relatively controlled and when the service had reached 50 minutes in length, I invited everyone to stand and cheer, clap, whistle or make any noise they wished, giving Regina a standing ovation of love. It was a joyful and tearful and delightful and inspiring service.

At the potluck dinner Regina stayed as long as her body would hold her. She knew this was her last time with all her friends – and she loved and made every moment rich with conversation.

The next day she left her home and was taken to a beautiful river house owned by dear friends, who invited her to let them support her in her last days. Hospice was engaged and Regina left this earth plane 14 days later.

I have asked Dana Wells, who together with Beth Harvey cared for her, to describe Regina’s closing chapter of life. She will write Regina - Chapter Three.

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