PORTSMOUTH - Thelma Lucille Willis, 69, died February 29, 2012. A native of Bassett, Va., she was predeceased by her father, Charles M. Willis & two brothers, William Wyatt and Charles Leonard Willis. |
Some angels ride with the wind beneath their wings; others ride in wheelchairs. By providential design, our special angel, Lucy, has been grounded in a wheelchair since age 18. Though God, The Great Physician, could have healed her, He chose to use her physical and mental limitations for the greatest advantage. Though seemingly perfect at birth, by age 5 Lucy would be diagnosed with both Mental Retardation and Grand Mal Epilepsy. Her only year in school proved that "readin', writin', and rithmetic" would not be her forte. From early childhood, she attended Sunday School. Both at home, and at SS, she learned that "Jesus loved her." She asked to be baptized because Jesus was baptized. Pastor T.M. Frye, considered it an honor. In the years following, Lucy often reminded him that he baptized her. Little did he know he was baptizing an "angel in disguise". Beside the love of family, one of the few enjoyments in Lucy's life was listening to preaching on the radio every day. Consequently, caregivers heard that Jesus loved them too. They were not allowed to turn off her radio. She was known to repeat "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" to first time visitors in the home.
Lucy's eyes would also light up when people came to visit her. She loved animated toys, but even more she loved getting a "dollar bill" which she gently placed in her pocketbook. That pocketbook had to remain in plain view at all times because it had her dollar bills in it. In earlier times, Mom would take her shopping. Lucy would pick out a pretty piece of jewelry or a toy. She never really "grew up," she was always a child. She slept with one special doll. Her pocketbook had to be placed by her hospital bed. Everyone knew the routine. We tucked her in each night with a kiss and a prayer.
Though God is the Great Physician, and could have easily healed Lucille, He had greater plans for her as an invalid. Often He allows some of His children to be borne with an incurable illness. Naturally, Lucy's mother asked for healing, "IF" it were His will. God did not say "YES", but He promised grace for the many trials to come. Believing that promise, Iris trusted God for the physical and spiritual strength to care for all of Lucy's needs.
In addition to Epilepsy and retardation there would be surgery for a diseased Gall Bladder, and later, for Breast Cancer. Lucy would survive both. Each time God promised that His grace would be sufficient. However, the gastric difficulties Lucy experienced with Acid reflux, Barrett's Esophagus, Hiatal Hernia and Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) gradually led her respiratory problems. A condition known as Pneumonic Aspiration developed. Difficulty swallowing would sometimes cause coughing and choking which would allow stomach acids and/or food to enter the windpipe instead, and ultimately lodged in her lungs compromising her lungs. In turn, this led to breathing problems and eventually Pneumonic Aspiration was her diagnosis at time of death.
The family had planned a 70th birthday party for Lucy, March 5, 2012, but God had bigger birthday plans for Lucy. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Feb. 29, His angels came for their wheelchair-bound sister Lucille and took her home to Heaven.
At home, there is an empty wheelchair, but not really. You see it was filled with gifts of love and compassion tied up with heartstrings woven by heartache and pain but of love, by Lucy. We who remain will cherish the lessons she taught us in life, lessons that were never written in a book. She is now in Heaven and walking on streets of gold. There are no parking spaces for the handicapped~no wheelchairs. She is dancing, singing and rejoicing with the angels in a glorious land where there is no sickness. Indeed, it is Paradise restored.
God's word tells us that "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." We KNOW Lucy is there. She can speak clearly now. She knows why she would never drive a car but would be given a wheelchair while on earth. When we see her she will rush to meet us and happily tell us how she was transported to Heaven on angels' wings where she "touched the face of God!" To God be the glory Who blessed us with a girl named Lucy. Indeed, we are all richer. We know we have been "touched by an angel unawares."
Special thanks to Dr. Frederick Crum and his staff for years of excellent care given to Lucy.
Survivors include her mother, Iris O. Willis of Portsmouth; sister, Loretta Marshall of Virginia Beach; & three brothers, Lowell Willis of Matthews, N.C., Lloyd Willis of Ararat, Va., and Wayne Willis of Portsmouth, Va.
A funeral service will be held Sunday, March 4, at 3 p.m. in Sturtevant Funeral Home, Portsmouth Blvd. Chapel by the Reverends T.M. Frye & James Lowell Willis. Burial will follow in Olive Branch Cemetery. Family will receive friends at the funeral home at 2 p.m. preceding the service at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers some may wish to donate to their favorite charity or ours, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.SturtevantFuneralHome.com
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 3, 2012