Sometimes a person needs to hear the life story of another more than they need food, water, or shelter to sustain their being. In our moment of acute grief, Teresa’s story is one of those stories that bring us hope, courage and wisdom that will sustain us in our future lives.
Faith, Family, Friends in that order were what was most important to Teresa Elizabeth Scott, our beloved matriarch of the Scott Family.
Teresa was a devout Catholic who lived her religion. She epitomized what it means to be a Christian. She loved her family, she was devoted to her friends, and she was accepting of all. Teresa always found the good in people and she could turn something that might not be positive into a lesson on God’s will.
She said her daily rosary and novenas with devotion. Whenever anyone in the family or any friends were in a situation where they needed a prayer said, Teresa was just a phone call away. Not only did she pray for intentions, she also said her prayers of thanksgiving.
I had the privilege of growing up at 858 14th St., the home where Teresa was born in 1922 and that she dearly loved. We lived with our grandmother, Katie Scott, until her death in 1957, our Uncle Johnny, my mom and Teresa.
Teresa’s greatest joy occurred in 1955. There was a family who went to St. Luke’s, our local parish. The father was stationed in the Army at Fort Huachuca but they lived in Douglas. His wife was pregnant and there were complications. She died soon after the birth of their daughter on January 31, 1955. Because the family knew our parish priest, Father McGovern, the father found out that Teresa wanted to adopt this little baby girl. He had four older children and knew that he could not take care of a premature baby. Several families wanted to adopt her, but he chose Teresa. Teresa believed it was because of all of her prayers, especially to St. Jude, Patron Saint of the Impossible.
Teresa and our grandmother were in Phoenix at a retreat when word came that she would get the baby. It was unheard of in those days for a single woman to be able to adopt a child. My mother was in Douglas and went up to Bisbee to see the judge. The judge said that there would be no problems at all since it was a direct relinquishment. So Teresa was able to adopt Judith Marie Scott and she was named Judith because of St. Jude.
I was in kindergarten that year and I will never forget how excited I was to have a “little sister.” Because Judy was premature, she didn’t get to come home until March 8. I could hardly wait to get home that day to hold her.
Teresa once told me that after she got Judy, she was worried about whether she could do this. So the day she picked Judy up, they went directly to church for a little bit. And she said that was all she needed to know all would be fine. That speaks volumes about her faith.
Growing up the way we did was unconventional for the 50’s, but I believe that we had a wonderful childhood filled with love. A very special person to our family was “our Mary.” Our grandfather hired her in 1946 and she helped raise Judy and I and took care of many of the cousins and my own kids through the years. Although she worked for our family, she was a part of our family until her death in 2008. Our cousins came to visit often and many spent their summers in Douglas at 858. I remember all of us standing in line to get the first tortilla that she made.
Most of our vacations were spent with the cousins through the years. Either we went to visit them or they came to Douglas. Teresa loved all of her nieces and nephews and she would be so proud to see how many of you are here today.
Teresa worked for the City of Douglas Water Department for over 40 years. She was the office manager for many years. After her retirement in 1982, she started a bookkeeping and payroll business at the house. She had several clients who paid her, but she did the books and payroll for the Catholic parishes, Loretto School and St. Vincent de Paul gratis. It was something she felt very strongly about giving back to what was important to her. I do remember my mom grumbling just a little bit about couldn’t they at least donate a ream of paper?
She loved to play bridge and always had a bridge club or game to go to at least once a week. She was also very active in Beta Sigma Phi where she had many friends and we had so many family oriented events through the years.
Both my mom and Teresa had many friends through the years who were like family. I know some of the members of those families are here today. Thank you for being with us to celebrate her wonderful life.
One of my favorite memories was a group of their friends. They called themselves the “old bags” They celebrated each others’ birthdays and always had a gag gift to give—always the same one, just rewrapped.
There isn’t enough time to talk about her almost 95 years on this earth in a short amount of time. When someone dies, people always tell the good about them and that is the way it should be. However, in Teresa’s case, she was truly one of the best people around. She was a kind and gentle spirit.
I know how difficult it was for her to be the last one left of all of her siblings. The only one left is her sister-in-law, Mary Scott. I remember their many conversations when I was living in Douglas. They spoke on the phone often.
She also survived all of her longtime friends. Of course, she made new and younger ones and she valued them so much.
In 2010, I had the honor to move back to Douglas and live with her for five years. We had a great time those years and I have to say she was a super roommate.
As I have mentioned several times earlier, Teresa was a kind and gentle soul. However, she did like to have fun and whenever I invited her to a happy hour, she was ready to go!
One of my favorite stories was when I first moved back to Douglas. She played bridge every Friday afternoon with three dear friends. I never knew what time she would get home. It depended on how long the game lasted and how much fun they were having. One Friday night, it was around 6 and already dark. I got a call from her and she asked if I could please come and pick her up as they had been having a few cocktails and she didn’t want to drive. So I went and picked up our almost 90 year old aunt and the next day, we went back to get her car!! I have had many laughs over that through the years.
The other story that I love was one day we needed some work done in the yard or someplace at the house. I asked a couple of the maintenance guys from the school district if they would go over after work and fix whatever needed to be fixed. When I got home and she wasn’t in the house. So I went to the backyard and there was Teresa and the guys sitting at the patio table drinking a beer together. When they finished the job, she offered them a beer and of course had one with them. That was when I had first became the Douglas superintendent!!
One of the hardest days when we were in Douglas was the day she decided to give up driving. Judy and I had talked quite a bit about it because we felt it wasn’t safe anymore. However, Douglas is a small town and she was only driving to church, the beauty parlor and to bridge and all were within several blocks of the house. She would come home with dents that she didn’t know how they happened. Apparently, a lot of people were running into her car and denting it. Finally, Judy convinced her and she decided it was time. So much of driving is tied into independence and this was one more step towards losing that dependence. Although I was very glad that she wasn’t driving anymore, it was still a sad day. But we made it just fine!!
When I retired in 2015, she knew that she could not live alone anymore. She knew that she had to move to the valley and stay with Judy or me. That last month that we were there, she cried every day and it broke my heart.
The first year she was with us, she did great. She enjoyed coming to all of the parties and events that I had and always wanted to go to a teacher happy hour. Everyone loved her and loved her spunk.
Up until June of a year ago, she was fairly good but that is when the decline started for her mentally. This past year was very difficult to watch this vibrant, sharp woman decline. We had her at our house for about six months and Judy took her in February and took wonderful care of her.
I love children’s literature and Teresa often read this book with me when I was in Douglas. It is entitled “The Last Dance” by my favorite author, Carmen Agra Deedy. In the story, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human being has the right to three things in life:
To Dance. The great thing in life is not so much to dance well, but whether one is willing to dance at all.
To Sing, even if you sings off-key. The crow has as much right to a voice as the nightingale.
To Tell Stories. Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told.
Teresa’s stories will live on through Judy and Ken. Ken was so kind to her during the time she was here. Both of them took such good care of her. Judy devoted four months to her care and we know how difficult that was. They will live on through her grandson, Ryan and his son Colton. Teresa loved to have Ryan visit and to get to hold Colton when he was a baby and see him as a toddler. I will never forget the day that Judy and Ken found out they were getting to adopt Ryan. I was at school and got the call from Teresa. She was so excited and couldn’t wait to get to see her first grandchild. And they will live on in her granddaughter, Kayla.
They will live on with me and with my children, Kerri and Patrick. We spent many summers in Douglas when they were young and she was another grandmother to them. Both Kerri and Patrick were wonderful to Teresa always, but especially when my mom was sick. They made sure she made it back and forth to Douglas to meet the payroll for her business. And they will live on through her great nephew, Cameron. The bond that those two had was something I have never seen the likes of before. His devotion to her and hers to him was so touching. He was always there to help her in any way and would sit next to her and hold her hand.
And they will live on with all of her nieces and nephews and their children. She loved each one of you and was so proud of each of you. Judy and I thank you for the many visits through the years and recently and the times when she was honored at family weddings as the matriarch. She loved that.
And her stories will also live on in the many lives of our friends that she touched. She was a wonderful example of growing old and still being kind, caring and fun loving.
One of the many talks we had through the years was how much our family get togethers meant to her. She made me promise that when she was gone, that we would always continue to be the Scott Family from Douglas, Arizona and celebrate the good times with each other. Since I made that promise to her, I think I made it in behalf of all of us. Let’s not forget what has made our family so strong and so incredible.
And so our dear Teresa, we will all miss you so much, but we know how blessed we have been to have you in our lives for so many years. We hope that what would have been your 95th birthday tomorrow is filled with a celebration with all of your family and friends who have gone before you.
It is only fitting that I end this with an Irish blessing. Our beloved Aunt Teresa,
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields;
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.