“She did her job, now you do yours” were just some of the words from the Reverend Dr. James H. Harris yesterday at Park Place A.M.E. Church in Homestead, PA as he eulogized 91 year old Lula Mae Pressley. She was the mother of eight children, including Tim’s ex-wife Lula and our friends Donna and Pearline, and the grandmother of my step-daughter Kim.
Tim loved Mrs. Pressley and had since he moved to PA as a teenager with his parents, so we knew when she passed on January 27th that we would be attending the wake and funeral for this amazing woman. Mrs. Pressley continued to consider Tim her son even after he and her daughter divorced. How many women do you know like that? I had only met Mrs. Pressley once, at Kim’s wedding, but in that short afternoon she made a great impression on me. In many ways, she reminded me of my own grandmother. At the wedding reception, she and I and a few of the other Pressley women danced and laughed as if we’d been friends for all of our lives. She was in her mid 80’s at the time but was so full of life and love.
When we arrived in West Mifflin on Friday, Tim took me to visit the neighborhood where he spent his middle school years, and we took a few pictures and walked around, amazed at how much still remained the same after almost 50 years. We arrived at Park Place A.M.E. Church not long after the wake began at 4pm. It was like old home week. Tim saw friends he’d gone to school with and of course all of the Pressley siblings, many of whom he’d remained friends with over the years.
I was welcomed with open arms by everyone in the church, friends and family alike. I met some of Kim’s cousins who I had only previously connected with on Facebook. It was awesome to actually meet them in person. No matter who you spoke with in the church, everyone talked about how special Mrs. Pressley was! She had been a VERY ACTIVE member of Park Place A.M.E for 73 years! The most common theme from everyone as they talked about Mrs. Pressley was that she always had time for a loving word and hug and that she served the Lord every single day of her life.
Typically at funerals you hear how active people have been in their church, however Mrs. Pressley took her service to another level, achieving Lifetime Missionary status within the A.M.E. church for over 25 continuous years of meritorious service! She also sang in the gospel choir and taught Sunday School for 43 years. Outside of the church she served as well, volunteering her time in many areas of her community.
You could hear in the voice of Reverend Dr. Harris how difficult it was for him to eulogize Mrs. Pressley because she was such an incredible person with whom he’d had a special bond. Whenever he listed one of her accomplishments he would add “she’s done her job, now you do yours”. He implored all of us who are still on this earth to serve the Lord as Mrs. Pressley had, and to pick up where she had left off. She was so much more than a faithful servant and she left huge shoes to fill. I left the funeral service feeling joyful, thankful that I had experienced first hand a church full of loving people gathered to honor and celebrate the life of Mrs. Lula Mae Pressley! Mrs. Pressley’s job is done, and I’m inspired to be more of a faithful servant by doing more for my church and my community. Mrs. Pressley’s job is done, are you ready to do yours?