Wake Reflection for Sister Ann Marie Scherman, OSU
Sister Ann Marie was born into the world of the Ursuline Sisters. Her family always lived in Paola and a few days after her birth on October 14, 1941, her parents Anna Belle and Ernest brought little Mary Ann to Ursuline where she was held in the arms of Mother Jerome, the founder of the Paola Ursulines. Mary Ann was taught by the Ursulines at Saint Patrick Grade School and attended Ursuline Academy during high school and after high school she entered the Ursuline community on July 26, 1960.
Mary Ann was the oldest of four children and she often spoke about her brothers Ernie and Jim and her little sister Mary Elizabeth, whom she called Lizzie. She was proud of Jim and all his work in the oil industry and was happy to have Ernie living nearby in the last few years. Ernie remembers that when they were children on the farm Mary Ann was the cautious older sister who tried to warn him and he was the daring younger brother. She told him to stay away from the horses, but he went over the fence and got kicked. Lizzie remembers that after Grandma Scherman died Mary Ann would stay with Grandpa after school during the week to take care of him and especially make sure he took his medicine. Although she was much younger, Lizzie would sometimes go along. Lizzie thinks this was when Mary Ann began her interest in care for the elderly.
What a wonderful thing it was that Ernie, Jim and Lizzie were able to come here to celebrate her last birthday just a few weeks ago. We know how much you will miss her and we offer our deepest sympathy to all of you, her family members.
On January 26, 1961 Mary Ann became Sister Ann Marie. And from then on she was known as Annie. She stayed faithful, and never wanted to be anything other than a sister even during the years when so many others left.
On January 20, 1963 Annie made first vows and went off to the Sister Formation College to get her bachelor’s degree. She made her final vows in 1968.
From 1965 to 1991 Annie taught first and second grades in the Catholic schools in the Kansas City area and in several small towns in Kansas. She was always eager to try new ways to help her students learn. She even went on to get a master’s degree at Emporia State University.
Annie always loved elderly people and often developed a close relationship with special friends. The first of these was Sister Augustine whom she grew close to at the Sister Formation College. Then there was Sister Mary Al who was principal at Holy Angels School when Annie taught there. These special relationships led her to her choice of a second career. In 1991 she took a sabbatical at Saint Louis University followed by CPE training. She then worked as a chaplain in the nursing home at Providence Medical Center. Her last years were spent caring for the elderly in their homes. She also cared for her mother at the end of her life and drove elderly sisters to doctor appointments.
In Johnson County Margot was her special friend. Margot was a lady who had traveled the world. Annie loved to hear her stories and take her out for special lunches. After Margot went to the nursing home, her son arranged for Annie to give her special attention there. In Miami County she met Beth. Her devotion to Beth kept her giving all she could even as she herself grew thin and weak. She loved Beth and was very sad to leave her behind when she came to Kentucky. Even at the Villa in her last days Annie had Sister Ann Victoria for a special friend. It was her gift to give her time and interest to people in their last years.
Heaven was on Annie’s mind whenever any of her dear friends died. She envisioned tea parties where she would visit and spend happy moments with them just as she had during their life times. Lizzie offers an example of Annie’s wonderful wacky humor on this topic. After her parents were married they thought they would have some years together for just the two of them. Less that two years later along came Annie. When Annie decided not to have chemo it was less than two years after her mother died. Annie imagined her parents were enjoying being just the two of them together again in heaven. Her parents must have been saying, “Here she comes again!” Annie died on their wedding anniversary.
Annie loved to travel –busses, trucks, trains, cars, motorcycles and especially planes. Her biggest trip was a great surprise. Annie was teaching at Saint Agnes and her brother Jim was working in England. The teachers were being asked to sell candy to the children in their classes. Annie had some real complaints about that. Little did she know that the money earned was going to a fund to buy her a ticket to fly to England to see Jim. He showed her around and remembers how much she enjoyed riding on the back of his motorcycle at 100 miles an hour.
Short trips with her dad and mom, and later on with brother Ernie, were always about the olden days, to see old farm machinery in action, or old locomotives. She loved steam engines.
Annie and I took some trips together. In 1976 we rode the Greyhound bus for thirty hours to New York City. The evening we arrived we had a bus tour of the city, and then went on to New England. Annie loved the picturesque countryside of New Hampshire and the walking tour of Boston. Sometimes our adventures scared us a little. On that trip we had to ride the bus back to New York through traffic snarls and barren blocks of tenement houses. It was a shock for two country girls and when we got back to the port authority bus terminal, even though we had several more hours to do things, all Ann Marie could do was sit on her suitcase at the departure gate.
However a few years later she was ready for another trip. This time we drove to the southwest, did a walking tour of Santa Fe, and because Annie loved trains we rode one to the Grand Canyon.
Ann Marie also had to experience what it was like to be a truck driver, so a couple of years ago she went along with her brother Ernie on one of his runs. That trip is now a good memory for Ernie.
Her last plane ride was the one that took her to Kentucky. After she got there she had to call me to describe how much she enjoyed that ride. In Kentucky she relished her rides with Grace in her golf cart.
Annie loved art museums, good literature and classical music. Listening to classical music soothed her anxiety in those last months. She liked historical museums and could spend hours looking at all the details of the variety of objects gathered in them.
Garage sales and thrift stores were another of her pleasures. She gave great attention to the details of the items she found there, and surely the clothes she is wearing in the casket came from those places. It was a mark of her simplicity that she did not spend money on new clothes.
Annie was glad to spend her last months at Mount Saint Joseph. She faced her last days with anxiety, but also bravely. She really felt the support of all the Villa and Hospice staff. She relied on them for care of body and spirit, to give her comfort and a boost to her courage. All of us, especially those of us who were close to Annie in spirit, but far in miles, thank you so much for all that care. We are grateful for the hours spent calming her anxiety and helping her get ready for heaven. We thank you for the evening snacks she enjoyed. We also thank you for the ten oxygen tanks that gave her assurance during her final days.
The last Wednesday of her life, Annie called me to share some wacky humor. We also talked about her anxiety, being anointed by Bishop Medley, and her grief at the death of Sister Ann Victoria. At the end she promised to call again. Well Annie, I am listening for messages from heaven.
Annie was a Kansas girl through and through. She was a sunflower and member of the Sunflower Bonded Community and she kept her sunflower hat in the back window of her car. She could strike a pose in that sunflower hat.
So Annie, the Sunflower Bonded Community sends you off with a sunflower hat. We can imagine you wearing it to all the mystical, eucharistic, tea parties in heaven with all of your dear loved ones.
May you rest in peace and bask in the presence of God.
Sister Jane Falke, OSU
November 11, 2010