Two giants in my life died this year. One of them, Glen Paden, several months ago (April 7), very unexpectedly; the other, my Aunt Betty, just yesterday (Oct. 30), also unexpectedly. They were 87 and 88, respectively, going on 67 and 68, respectively!
While I’m sure you’ve heard of Dr. Paden, you probably don’t know my aunt, Betty Worley. But they were giants both personally and spiritually, and tremendously impacted the people in their circles.
Dr. Paden was the wisest person I’ve ever known. I’ve gone to him several times over the years to seek his counsel on a variety of things, including major issues like whether or not I should buy a house (he gave me great advice — let me know if you need some!).
We went to church with him and Alene at First Southern in Fresno while he was president of California Baptist Foundation. Mother worked with him when the Foundation office was in the Baptist Building, then my parents were in a Sunday school class with the Padens.
Dr. Paden was always so gracious to my dad, who could be a handful, and appreciated and respected my mother for her strong faith (she occasionally filled in as Sunday school teacher).
Of course I loved him because he always referred to me, and introduced me as, “The World’s Greatest Church Pianist.” Who wouldn’t love a guy like that?!?
Dr. Paden was so important to our family that, years ago, we decided we wanted him to do our funeral services. He did daddy’s in 2012 and mother’s in 2014.
While perhaps slight of physical stature, Dr. Paden truly was a giant of faith, wisdom, graciousness, leadership … so many other things. You who knew him well can add your own adjectives.
Aunt Betty was also a giant of faith, but more even than that to me, she was my “person of peace.” When I was with Aunt Betty, nothing seemed too troubling; everything could be handled. Just trust the Lord, take it in stride and don’t fret.
I was incredibly blessed to have quite a bit of one-on-one time with her. After Uncle Truett died (one of mom’s brothers and another Giant), I visited with her in New Mexico several times, soaking up her fun spirit, generosity, creativity, hospitality, incredible cooking … and peace. I always tried to hang onto that feeling as I had to get back to reality. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much!
Aunt Betty was the closest thing to a mom that I had after mine died, and the last person on Earth who knew mother well. I tried to soak in those precious memories, and always looked forward to the next visit.
But now these Giants are in Heaven, with Jesus, and I wouldn’t take away that joy for anything. But how we all, in the various spheres of their influence, miss them!! How precious these two people were; what an impact they had on hundreds, thousands, of people.
Thank You, Lord, for their godly legacy; for the large families they left behind who are all serving You. Thank You for
letting me be part of these wonderful lives!