Posted by: morgan1965 | March 29, 2018

A Tribute To Thelma: My “Big Sister”

I was blessed to have a “big sister,” Thelma Attrue Julia Lyght, who was the oldest of four siblings, two boys and two girls. I am the “baby” in the family.

On Friday, March 16, 2018 we celebrated Thelma’s 82 years of life at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The celebration was a marvelous musical tribute that honored her as a church musician. Appropriately, her casket bore treble clef signs and sheaths of music, symbolizing her love of music and her devotion to church music.

Thelma learned to play the pipe organ, because our maternal grandfather provided the funds for Thelma to take private organ lessons, as a high school student in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We lived on Arctic Avenue and the church where she practiced was located several blocks away on Pacific Avenue. My frequent assignment was to accompany Thelma when she went to the church for practice and lessons. As an elementary school kid, one can imagine that I was not enamored of this task.

Going with her, of course, robbed me of some valuable time with my playmates after school. Also, during the winter season, the church was always cold. Not only was the church cold, it was big, empty and a little scary, even though the custodian was somewhere on the premises. Thelma’s diligence and faithfulness as an organ student had a precious reward.

On Thursday evening, June 18, 1953, I forgot about my lost time as I watched Thelma take part in her high school graduation ceremony. Our grandfather was there, and he was as proud as a peacock. That night in the Ballroom of the Atlantic City Convention Hall, Thelma played the recessional music for her senior class on the Midmen-Losh pipe organ. She played “Pomp and Circumstance” by Elgar and “War March of the Priests,” from “Athalia” by Mendelssohn. I too was very proud of my big sister. The Lyght family was very proud.

Another exciting moment came when Thelma and William, my big brother, both graduated from Morgan State University in 1958. I remember the picture of them that appeared in the “Baltimore Afro American” newspaper. The joy expressed on their faces inspired me as I followed in their footsteps, entering Morgan as a freshman in 1961. Thelma had majored in English and minored in music. She frequently served as a student assistant accompanist during Sunday chapel services at the Morgan Christian Center. During my years at Morgan, I served as an assistant to the chaplain during the Sunday worship services.

Thelma’s participation as student accompanist in college was preceded by the many times Thelma helped with the music as a teenager at our father’s churches. During her adult years, Thelma could be found helping with the music. Paid or unpaid, she was willing to serve.

I have fond memories of our life together. Thelma was a quiet presence, with a cheerful attitude. She loved to hear a good story or a funny joke. Although she would often erupt into body shaking laughter when hearing something funny, she was not one to tell jokes or funny stories herself. If she did not have something good to say about someone, she did not say anything.

When Thelma heard me preach a sermon, she would take notes. We often would have a conversation about my sermon, and she could tell me exactly what I had talked about, point by point.

Thelma loved God, and she loved the people of God. She loved the church and enjoyed participating in church activities, especially the annual Christian School of Missions sponsored by the Conference United Methodist Women.

It was her love of children that enabled Thelma to be a good tutor. She enjoyed helping students to develop their math and English skills.

When our father was in his most senior years, Thelma became his caregiver.

I thank God for the gift that Thelma was to our family, her church and her community. We will miss her, but we will hold onto our many fond memories.






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