Anne was the wife of Charlie Cowsert, my minister when I became a Presbyterian. He guided me in my decision to enter the ministry. Anne and Charlie were my friends and it was through Charlie that my name came before the committee that recommended me to my first pastorate.
When I went to Waterford, Va. in 1954, I persuaded Mary Jean to become my wife. Mary Jean got to know Anne and to this day will tell you that Anne was the perfect wife and the perfect minister's wife. Mary Jean wanted to be like Anne Cowsert. She succeeded.
Had she lived 12 more days, Charlie and Anne would have been married for 60 years. Anne was ill. It all began after an operation in December, 1999. Charlie said that he noticed a slight slurring of speech.
After doctors and tests, Anne was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. The prognosis was from three to five years. This ailment has a devastating effect on the patient's physical condition. Her speech was the first to go. No longer were those she loved and those she met (there were no strangers in Anne's life) privileged to hear that soft sweet voice with its note of joy. She walked with a walker. A wheelchair came next. In May, 2003, Anne was confined to her bed.
I read of Anne's death in one of our church publications. When I finally spoke to Charlie, the first words out of his mouth was how hard it was without her and how much he missed her.
He had the Eulogy at her service. I wish I had been there. He told how Anne was his friend as well as his wife. She was his loving critic. He spoke of her wit and easy manner. He mentioned her elegance, her confidence, the way she had of relating to people because she loved everybody. He also recalled her humility. They were partners in ministry. They were a great team.
Charlie shared with me how on Thursday, Dec. 18, Anne experienced a sudden severe physical change for the worse. It was painful and frightening to her. She said to Charlie, "I want to go to sleep until this is over. We have said it all and I am ready." They said their final goodbyes, the Hospice nurse made her comfortable. She had the assurance that the family would be all right and had received permission to take the next step. Anne was at peace. The angel of death came for her as a good friend on the morning of Dec. 22.
Anne demonstrated her faith in life and also in death. She was able to die at home, as she wished, with family about her. Anne gave hope, assurance, courage and peace to all who knew her and shared her death. It is all a part of this life.
It is how you handle it that is important.