Classical music preceded the service, as pictures of Annie throughout her life were projected onto a screen. Flower arrangements stood next to the piano and microphone. The couches in the large lobby/living area were supplemented by folding chairs to accommodate the residents and visitors who had gathered for the event.
Chaplain Edith Lambert opened with a welcome and prayer, then recited John 14:1-7:
“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.”
A woman played the piano for the hymn “How Great Thou Art” and everyone was invited to sing along.
Then daughter Lisa Hogan spoke about her mother. “My mom was the groovy mom. She worked, she trusted us, and our house was the place to hang out, the place to be,” she said. “She believed in letting us be ourselves. And no matter what our ages – teens, twenties, thirties – she always insisted we spend holidays together.”
No one was more stubborn, and her children admitted to being as stubborn as she was. She was a woman of integrity, with a clear vision of right and wrong. And she was loving and compassionate.
“I learned from her that you can make a mistake and admit it, and that it’s liberating,” Lisa said. “She gave me so much. She helped me believe in myself and encouraged me to be anything I dreamed. My mom was like winning the Lotto, for sure.”
Lisa came to visit Annie a lot during the last four years, as the dementia progressed. Annie passed away at the age of 87. And Annie had let her know that she wanted her life celebrated.
Son Michael thanked everyone for coming, saying, “Mom would love this. She gave us the best of herself and that’s what she expected of others, and that’s what she got 99 percent of the time.”
She taught English at a college and pushed for equal pay for women, she started a program in a prison to educate inmates, many of whom never went back to prison after earning their degrees. She drove as long as she could – and she had at least a dozen accidents none of the kids knew about. Unbeknownst to them, she was a real estate baron with rental houses and properties on the West Coast. And she was a killer ping pong player – none of them could beat her while they were kids.
Son Patrick said, “It was tough to find anybody who didn’t like her and easy to find everyone who loved her. I think her greatest gift to me is to continue with her example of how to love and be a family. My biggest regret is that I started my family late and Annie didn’t get to know her granddaughter.”
Annie liked to eat, watch movies, read books and hang out with friends. And she considered her kids as friends. “She was exceptional, a very special woman,” said Patrick. “She’s at peace now. She was ready to go home. And I’m sure she’s happy to see this gathering. I know she’s up there watching.”
Two friends, Betty Starkey and Barbara Marshall, shared other stories of Annie.
Betty and Annie traveled together. They had both had surgery about the same time, and Annie set it up so that they shared the same hospital room during their recoveries. Annie said, “What are we going to do when we get out of here?” They hatched a plan to go to India, where Betty’s grandparents had been missionaries.
Betty called traveling with Annie “seat of your pants style.” They arrived in Bombay at midnight and didn’t have reservations. “We don’t need ’em!” Annie said. The first day, when they asked about things to do and see, the hotel staff suggested the Thieves Market. They took a cab there and were a bit nervous about thieves. Annie decided she’d leave her purse in the car with the driver. She was sure he would take care of it and asked him to return later to pick them up. Sure enough, at the end of the day, her purse was still there, safe and sound with the cab driver.
The best thing they shared was faith and love in Jesus Christ, said Betty. She was a strong believer.
Barbara Marshall knew Annie for 12 years through playing bridge. “She had the ever present gift of affirmation and making folks feel good,” she said. “It was plain out fun to be with her.” She said Annie was a technical writing assistant at Sandia Laboratories, very professional and competent as she helped engineers there. Annie introduced Barbara to PEO, a women’s organization that she belonged to for a very long time.
Last Christmas, Annie gave Barbara a bookmark that reads, “Friends are special and you are a special friend.” “I keep it as a reminder that I knew a great lady,” said Barbara.
Chaplain Edith said that Annie had requested the reading of two of her favorite Scripture passages, John 3:1-18 (about being born again) and Romans 10:8-13:
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Chaplain Edith closed with a prayer of thanksgiving for Annie’s life and a prayer for those who mourn. It ended with, “Nothing can destroy the good that has been given.” Everyone was invited to sing “Amazing Grace” with the pianist, and we listened to an a cappella version of “Wayfaring Stranger.” Sweets and punch were served afterward.
If you have a story or memory of Annie Jones Hogan you’d like to share, please post a comment at the bottom of this post.