Walking our Faith: How to live a passionate life

Last Saturday I attended my first National Repertory Orchestra concert of the 2022 season. As I have for the last six years, I sat two rows from the front to enjoy watching these talented musicians up close.

I thought of the musicians I had met over the years when I had acted as a host for one or two musicians, and what enabled them to earn a place on the stage was a passion for music that they discovered early in life .

When I spoke to them in their mid-20s — perhaps finishing a graduate program in music, poised to launch their professional musical careers — they still held that same passion.

How lucky they are, I thought to myself, to have discovered a passion for something that would steer the direction of their lives from such a young age and which held the potential to bring their lives such purpose and joy.

This weekend I will join my siblings and friends in Florida, to celebrate the life of my mother who, like these young musicians, discovered her passion and purpose early in life. Like them this discovery became the North Star that guided her life until her death six months before her 95th birthday.

I was asked to write an obituary that will be shared at her memorial service. I’d like to share it here with you not only to honor my mother but also because thinking of the young musicians and then celebrating my mother’s life feels like coming full circle and celebrating what it means to have lived life well.

It is a life I wish for myself and for you. Not an easy life, but one filled with the knowledge that one’s talents have been used to their fullest potential pursuing a dream, a spark placed in our hearts by our creator before we were born.

Adeline Anderson was born on July 8, 1927, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was the youngest of seven children born to a Hungarian mother and eastern European father.

Adeline often spoke of loving to attend the Hungarian church in her neighborhood from an early age and knew that someday she would be a missionary when she walked into church on Missionary Sunday and saw flags from around the world.

She did fulfill that dream of becoming a missionary and traveling the world, more than once, but it was neither a direct nor an easy path.

Adeline had to leave school at the age of 14 to work as a live-in housekeeper to help support her family financially. Yet she eventually went to Bible college in Missouri and then to Juneau, Alaska, where she worked as a missionary in a children’s orphanage before Alaska became part of the United States of America.

After two years in Alaska she returned to Cleveland, where she met and married David Anderson. They moved to Florida and mom‘s educational journey continued. Over the next 30 years she earned two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s and a doctorate in education .

Despite her remarkable accomplishments, mom never felt she was “smart enough,” and perhaps that fueled her passion for teaching children who were underprivileged or had learning disabilities. Her mission became teaching children to read no matter what hurdles they faced.

When she retired from Broward County Schools at the age of 65, Adeline immediately took a position as a Director of Early Childhood Education at an international school in Kyiv, Ukraine. Adeline and her husband David, lived in Kyiv, and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, for the next five years. And after David’s passing, she taught in Baku, Azerbaijan, until the age of 79.

During this time Adeline not only taught international students but often went into the villages to deliver medication to poor families who had no access to medicine because it was simply too expensive.

Adeline lived her faith. She had a servant’s heart, always desiring to help those in need.

When she returned to Florida in 2015 Adeline immediately returned to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and to her beloved choir. Mom had been a member of the choir for close to 50 years.

During the last seven years of her life she was no longer able to be a singing member of the choir, so she became the choir’s prayer warrior and every week she and Bobby attended choir practice together. She made a note of all the prayer requests that she received and then spent the coming week praying for each one.

Adeline truly walked her faith in the world. There are thousands of young children, now adults, who are grateful that she was their teacher and that she shared God’s love with them in the most tangible way, by teaching them with compassion and respect. Adeline is survived by her four children: David, John, Suzanne and Victoria.

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