“It’s beautiful – so beautiful.” Doris McConnell’s last words on this earth, and taken by many to be a glimpse of Heaven before she passed over from death to Life, were imprinted boldly on her service sheet under a smiling photograph of her in a sunny spot by the water’s edge in North Wales.
Our Pastor, Jim Beveridge, likened her passing to the ‘modern parable’ of the recent aeroplane crash into the Hudson river. One of the passengers thanked the pilot for saving him and the reply was ‘you’re welcome ‘ In 1942, Doris had chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as her Pilot through life, and , as He does to all the whose who say “Thank You for all that You have done for me,” Jesus replies, “You are welcome,. Welcome to My Father’s House.”
He had certainly kept her safe though wartime perils; her home in Rye was bombed, her RAF base at Fareham was bombed, and when posted to Lea Green, South London, a Doodlebug (V1 flying bomb) fell on the shelter she was in and she was buried. Miraculously she came out with minor injuries. Meanwhile, Jim was also on the move and the two met in Gosport in 1945, where he was in the Royal Navy. Their first date was a bicycle ride to Lee-on-Solent; they were engaged in May 1947, and married in Battle on 21st February 1948. Last year they celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary.
Some fifty family members, friends and neighbours gathered in the Chapel on Friday 23rd January to bid farewell to Doris. The hymns reflected her Christian life and witness – How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear; The Lord’s my shepherd, and Father hear the prayer we offer. Later we sang And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood, died He for me who caused His pain,…?
The wind and the rain of the morning had turned to winter sunshine as we laid Doris to rest in the churchyard. May our prayers be for her husband Jim as he reflects on their sixty years spent serving the Lord together.
Accounts of the wartime experiences of both Jim and Doris are included in the book ‘Community Reminiscence Project on World War Two’ which is on sale at the Village Information Centre, Gardner Street, Herstmonceux.