Ida Overly Memorial

July 9, 2015

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

                                                                                    Lamentations 3:25-26

If there is anyone among us who can testify to these words of scripture, it is Ida – not simply because, at 100, she’s waited the longest – but because of the spirit in which Ida lived. Ida has lived with us a quiet faith and a quiet waiting. In the midst of significant sorrow over the years, she has been steady and reliable and unpretentious. She was, in the old-timer vernacular of the Dakotas, a “brick”. She was “good people” – the kind of person you knew you could count on. She was, as Betty Coons remembers Ida saying of herself, “a North Dakotan meat and potatoes kind of girl.”

Well, meat and potatoes and Dairy Queen Chocolate shakes, apparently. Cathy Schneider remembers picking up a chocolate shake to share with Ida while she was at Cottesmore… but there was to be no sharing. Ida wolfed the whole thing down herself, and then laughed about it.

Ida did know how to laugh and how to live within the boundaries of her life. Through two world wars, the Great Depression, divorce, and the death of three children – she maintained stability and reliability and faith. She remained the kind of woman you wanted to be around. Without judgment or anxiety, she was plain-spoken and knew how simply to live within her circumstances and to lean on the joys where they may be found. That’s how customers at the Thrift Shop knew her. Until she was 95 she was a regular volunteer there. And even though she could no longer see clearly, she had her chair and tray table and cookies and tea and a smile to greet anyone who came through the door.

And Ida was for us a link to a Gig Harbor that is no longer known. We now live in a Gig Harbor with Costco, Uptown, boutique shops and more pet supply stores than any community can possibly support. But Ida knew and embodied an earlier history. She was here when the first Narrows Bridge was built and here when it fell. She was here to see its replacement, and later its companion. She worked at the original Shoreline Restaurant and for decades at the Peninsula State Bank – from which she retired as a vice-president. Visitors to her home on Peacock Hill relished the stories of life in a small community that knew how to depend on one another. The names on our street signs are folks she knew; the places she worked are part of our history. Her home of seventy years looks out towards the Gig Harbor Museum ... of which she easily could have been an extension, reliving the history of our small harbor.

In the late 50s she went door to door collecting money to help build this church. And for years and years she worshiped here regularly. Sunday after Sunday I’d greet her at the back aisle. “Good morning, Ida, how are you?” “Well,” she’d reply with a dramatic pause, “I’m still here.”

And indeed she was. And indeed she is.

For though we no longer see her in this place, and though we may picture her in her “Father’s house [of] many dwelling places”, the deep hope and profound faith that Ida knew was that in Christ none are lost, that there is no division, that Christ is gathering all things into himself and making us one. So this church Ida helped build – its wall and its people – continues to be the dwelling place of Christ. And if Christ is here, then Ida is here, for Ida is in Christ and he in her. And we are in Christ and he in us. And together we remain the living body of Christ.

Jesus has broken the bonds of death, wrapping instead the bonds of his heart around us. And now Ida is living in the full knowledge and embrace of her God – and not she alone, but with all those who have gone before – with Donald, Joel and Joan and all the family and friends she knew and lost during her hundred years.

As day succeeds day, and year succeeds year, even the oldest among us find their place in the communion of saints. Pray for us, Ida. And with your eyes now restored, gaze with joy upon your God. And breathe with ease the breath of God, filling your lungs and body with life eternal. Our love go with you forever and ever. Amen.