PATRICIA BURNEZE HICKS FIELDS
A beautiful and gentle soul graced our lives, enriched our minds, and led the way with sweet humor and quiet dignity.As her life on this earth was ending, she spent much time looking back over her lifetime-its blessings and its suffering, and what she knew of the time she had spent here.It is her hope that she learned well; she did. A small portion of what she imparted follows:Laugh. Heartily.As often as you can, but never at someone else's expense or misfortune.Humor makes everything easier.Live your dreams.Start while you are young.If you are no longer young, start living them anyway.God gave you talents.Find them.Use them well.Define yourself.Love.Love yourself.Show that love by caring well for yourself-know that if you do not love yourself no one else can love you.Love others.Show them.Tell them.It matters.Forgive-yourself, others.If you have to leave for you, forgive them as you walk away.See the good. Where you can.Whenever you can.Recognize that hate is not the opposite of love-apathy is.If you are hating, you are entangled.You are hurting you.Walk away.Trust yourself.Listen to the still, small voice inside.It will never, ever lead you astray.Cherish adversity.It is a source of great wisdom, if used well.Cultivate a love of nature and a lifetime of beauty and solace awaits.We are stewards not proprietors-remember that.Kindness is strength not weakness.Always be true to yourself and tell yourself the truth, especially about you.It may matter what others think; it matters above all other voices what you think about yourself.Be good, even when it is hard.Doing the right thing will sometimes be the loneliest road you travel, but you will always be able to like the person you see in the mirror, who you can never outrun anyway.Never stop learning.Anytime.Anywhere.Be gentle.Life is hard.You never know what someone else has endured.Scars do not always show.Others might not react the way you might.Remember there is benefit of doubt.You will blink and your lifetime will be over.Enjoy it.Be kind to yourself and to others.Be a good steward, such that when you stand before your Maker you may proudly recall what you did with the life you were so generously given.Like the poem, "Gone From My Sight," by Henry Van Dyke, those here are watching this magnificent lady "of beauty and strength" as she leaves the familiarity of our earthly shores.We stand in our sorrow, alone in our tears.But, on the other side, the clamor and excitement of those so long awaiting her must be of raucous celebration-a joyful welcome home for one so incredibly loved.And now, it is our turn to miss her beyond words.
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Published in Pensacola News Journal on Aug. 2, 2014