When you think about our little community, it makes you think about the people who have made it great. And while we think it is the best place in the world to live, and it is, it mirrors many other small towns across our nation. Even some small towns in other countries around the globe. Wherever those other places are located, their residents also will tell you they live in the best place in the world. Attending the FBI National Academy in 2005 taught me a valuable lesson. There were 27 countries represented at this three-month training. Regardless of where the other students came from, we all wanted the same thing out of life. To be healthy and happy.

While there are many “important” people who have shaped our community into what it is, they are not really the heartbeat of our home. We have thousands of residents whose names you have never heard. They get up every day and go to work. Maybe they care for a loved one. These folks take care of their families, so the system is not forced too. Many go to church on Sunday morning to worship. They simply go about their lives doing good deeds without an ounce of recognition. These folks are the heartbeat of our community. And every community has them.

Covid-19 has eliminated or severely slowed down many activities worldwide. This can be irritating and even depressing. One of the saddest results of this pandemic is the limitations placed on funerals. There are restrictions which limit the number of people who can gather in one place. This has caused many families to opt for a graveside service outside to minimize the risk to those attending. While some families will push the issue to the very limit, other families are willingly sacrificing for the welfare of others.

Though I cannot remember when I first met Harold and Faye Lynn Sams, I do know it was at North Canton Baptist Church. North Canton is the church my Daddy grew up in. And it is the church my Granny and Grandaddy Collett attended until they died. For these reasons, I have worshipped there often. Harold was a deacon of the church before his death. Faye Lynn has always been to this day instrumental in her contributions to her church. Before Harold’s passing, he was extremely ill. He needed a lot of around the clock care and Faye Lynn provided it. The few times I saw her, she never complained. She seemed to just accept things as God’s will and continued on. When Harold passed, she handled it the same as she did while he lived. It was God’s will.

In February of this year, my column was about Harold and Faye Lynn’s daughter, Tracy Sams Weaver. I do not really know her husband Jack very well. But I basically grew up with Tracy. Tracy had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer which spawned the column. I asked you to pray and you did. There is no doubt Jack, and their children were devastated by the news. Then I thought about Faye Lynn. Knowing your child is facing something like this must be unimaginable. It goes without saying Faye Lynn would help take care of her daughter without question. But my goodness. How much can one woman take? Without God, it would be impossible. With God, all things are possible.

Doug Key, owner of Key’s Jewelry, told me Faye Lynn had worked with his daddy and his grandaddy. The only regret he had was when it was his time to run the business, Faye Lynn said she just did not think she could work anymore. He never referred to her as an employee. He said she was family. If Doug did not mean it, he would never say it. Every time I went into the store, Faye Lynn was the same. She was friendly with a smile. You could see Jesus in her life. She did not need to wear a sign which reads John 3:16. She lives it.

Tracy went home to be with Jesus a few days ago. Her family must be heartbroken and devastated at their loss. But their loss was heaven’s gain. This may be hard for them to wrap their heads around right now and it should be. One day they will. Tracy was a good woman who made a difference in the lives of children around North Canton Baptist Church. For me, and I am sure others, her greatest trait was her ability to love all people without judgment. She was her mother, Faye Lynn. If you want to know what kind of people the heartbeat of our community is, look to this family. Especially, their matriarch, Faye Lynn. There are many Faye Lynn’s in our community and communities all over which are the backbone of our hometowns.

The family had a graveside service due to the coronavirus. If not for the virus, hundreds would have shown to pay their respects. But this family was more concerned about the risks to others than their own grief. We are sad when we lose a loved one. But in heaven, “they’re a-shoutin’.” Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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