Ouida McGinty. A tribute.
Ouida is a girls’ name of English and old German origin, meaning “famous warrior”. Duh.
Ouida is also a city in Benin in West Africa, which only helps if you’re trying to understand her love of leopard print everything.
Ouida danced in life, actually she danced through life. Mostly, she was joyous even exaggerated, but in sadness, she slowed down for a dirge, but even there, she was probably patting a foot ¾ Ouida could not not dance.
Her number one dance move was a wide open hug. It took awhile to realize it was always the same dance moves.
Ouida gave me money from time to time. To get past my discomfort, she started a hug: a fast one, like a linebacker wrapping up a ball carrier. She hugged before I could, pinning my arms to my sides. She then swept one hand across my back, found my hand and shoved a folded bill in it between the hand and bible I was carrying: faster than I can describe it.
She backed away quickly, her face smiling as if she had just pulled off a daring heist, giving me a conspiratorial smile. The Apostle Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that our giving should be purposeful and that God loves a cheerful giver. Paul actually used the word “hilarious” and that was Ouida’s face after giving anything to you. I never figured who Ouida was hiding the giving from, but she got away with it, and enjoyed it more than anyone else I have ever met.
We asked Ouida to play the piano in worship. It scared her. Having heard her play, I didn’t get it. Later, I understood. Playing piano for worship was intensely personal for Ouida. I finally saw why. More than play the piano; she danced with it. She was our only pianist who made hymns sound like they were being played by a very reverent swing band. If she was into it, when she worshipped: her feet danced. Her seat danced on the bench. Her arms exploded all over the keyboard as if she might accidentally leave a note feeling neglected. Her playing was all over her face, and when she looked at whoever was directing music it was more like a girl at her first dance who is in love with the night, in love with her beau, and is checking the worship leader to find if he is loving this dance as much as she is.
I knew Scarlette before Ouida. Scarlette’s razor sharp mind enjoys a secret pleasure in coloring outside the lines in reading God’s Word. She doesn’t just read. She studies. She immerses herself in it, and is sharper at it than many preachers. I wondered where she got that. When I met Ouida, it explained a lot about Scarlette. Ouida never interrupted in a small group study, but once she trusted you, she had a bankroll of questions. But I had to return to the classroom and hear students’ questions before I heard Ouida’s real questions. She was always asking, “Is there more here than you’re telling? Is there more to our hope than we let on? Ouida helped me formulate my best, most rational response. She was the first to coax from me, “Oh, I sincerely hope so!”
Forgive my attire, please. For Ouida’s party, I should be draped in bling. Long before bling was a thing, Ouida had mastered it, arrayed herself tastefully in it, and somehow used it to appear even more alive. When I saw her Tuesday night in the hospital, she was regal in her bling, and ebullient. I collected my hug. I prayed with her and Bob. I asked God to heal her, but if He had other plans, if He was taking her Home, then that was what we all signed up for, isn’t it? I got in my truck and thought, “Why did you pray that?”
So on Thursday, when I walked past Jill talking to Tony on the phone, she stopped me to say something in a way she never has before. She simply said, “Ouida’s gone!” and I stammered, “Home?” and my voice cracked.
I knew we were both correct.
Thanks, John (Pastor) Bugg, and the family for letting me horn in on this dance. I simply had to say how much I love her and miss her and, she now knows why we all signed on in the first place. You KNOW she’s dancing, and this time when she looks at the Guy leading the worship and the Father receiving it, they are both loving it as much as she is!