Saturday, June 09, 2018

A Tribute to Paula Harris (1923-2018), June 9, 2018

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
~Psalm 116:15

My mother-in-law Paula Harris passed away last Saturday night, just two months short of her 95th birthday. She died of a heart attack at her home on Burgundy Street in San Diego. I have known Paula for over 50 years. As my wife Cindy's mother, she has been an integral part of my family life for over half a century. 

Paula (left) with sister Juanita, 1940s
Paula and her late husband Joe Harris, were very much like my own parents: transplanted Okies who had come to California in the mid 20th century and raised their family in San Diego. Also like my family, they were devout Church of Christ folks who had a strong connection to the El Cajon Blvd Church of Christ in San Diego, where Paula's memorial service will be conducted in two weeks.

Her husband Joe Harris died 19 years ago, but Paula did well on her own these last two decades, with her sister Juanita as a housemate. The house on Burgundy Street in San Diego had been Paula's home for 61 years. She and husband Joe were a young couple in 1957, with two grade school kids, Cindy and Joe Paul, when they bought their house in the new San Diego Community of Allied Gardens.

Paula was one of the most independent seniors I have ever known. Especially in recent years she wanted her and sister Juanita to manage on their own. She did her own shopping, visited friends and drove her own car as long as she was physically able. She attended church regularly until she was in her 90s. And she took care of her yard and garden longer than one would have expected. She was tough and self assured, and exhibited an independent streak that worked well for her, especially after the death of husband Joe. But Paula knew her limitations and acted accordingly, adjusting gracefully to the life changes that came to her as they come to all of us as we grow older.

Recent months were difficult for her health-wise. She had dealt with heart issues for years. But after a heart attack this past January, her health concerns increased. She made several visits to the hospital in the weeks before her death. When she eventually passed away last Saturday night, she was in her own home, in her own bed, with close family members at her side.

Paula with daughter Cindy on her 94th birthday last summer.
Paulena Hicks was born in Durant, Oklahoma in August of 1923. She was proud of her Native American heritage that she inherited from her full blooded Chickasaw Grandmother. She remained an active part of the Chickasaw Nation her whole life. After graduating High School she attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University for a year. She then responded to the call of service and entered the military, serving for two years in the Army during World War II, along with her sister Juanita. After the war, she married fellow veteran Joe Harris in September, 1945.

Paula leaves a daughter: Cindy Harris Shepard, 4 Grandchildren: Nathan, Cadence, Jared and Charles, and 8 Great Grandchildren. The family home on Burgundy Street will never be the same without her. Later this summer Paula will be laid to rest alongside her son Joe Paul Harris in the relatively new Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego.
- - -
Steve Shepard

No comments: