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March 17, 2019

Elisbeth Rooney

Elisbeth Rooney died on January 21st 2019; she was 63 years old.
Liz was a unique person, quite a character. When she first moved to Somerset, at the Beecher House, it is said everyone was afraid of her. When she first came to our fellowship, I could see why. Admittedly, she sometimes rolled in with a scowl on her face, and at times seemed like she really might roll over someone. When Bill wished her Merry Christmas, she gruffly replied, "happy Hanukkah". You know what I mean, many of you may have not thought much more about her but that tough scowl.
But, if you got to know her, as a few people did, you found she was, under that tough exterior, sweet and kind. Margie and Candice can attest to that. She, on several occasions, posted Facebook invitations to her house for coffee, for others needing encouragement. She was intelligent; a few years ago she started her own company, Prairie Dog Marketing for web advertising through "Traffic Exchange". She was witty. Maybe sometimes her wit and humor were a little “colorful”, but at least she was real. She was a believer, and openly confessed her faith in Christ.
You may know that she had a lot of health problems in the past few years, heart failure, diabetes, and chronic debilitating pain. She had cancer and chemotherapy back in 2012. So, you can begin to see, along with being confined to a wheelchair, how she might have a bit of an attitude.
What many do not know is how she ended up in that wheelchair. When she was 28, about 1983, she had three children and an abusive husband. One day the husband murdered her three children, in front of her, then pushed Liz down the stairs*. She was left with 3 dead children and a broken neck, from which she was unable to walk, and left with life-long pain. For 35 years she lived with that pain, went through depression at times, and at times was suicidal. She was stalked by that deranged husband for a number of years. And yes, maybe she developed an attitude. But, she did carry on, kept faith, and made many friends. She’s lived in Tennessee, California, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, that I know of. I've been in touch with 3 of those friends from California (she lived in Sacramento for some time). They had nothing but love and respect for Liz. When I talked to her friend Meegan, I recognized a true friendship, accomplished because Meegan would not stop at the tough exterior, but persisted, invited her to her church, and from there became a dear friend, enough so that we both shared a few tears just at the beauty of such a tortured life being able to have friendship and love.
Well, Liz died alone, and left no family. But, she died in Christ, and left many good friends. I had to get to know Liz by her Facebook page, Linkedin, Twitter, and her friends - after her death. We are now friends, but later than I would have liked. I went to her gravesite on Monday. She is buried in Science Hill Cemetery, in the far back, in the indigent section. Her life deserved more, but she does have so much more, now. I said a prayer over her grave, something like this: “God, thank you for taking Elisbeth to yourself. Some of us have been quick to judgement of her, and have neglected her. Thank your for picking up the slack for us. Keep her soul in eternal peace; maybe the first complete peace her soul has known. Help us to do better.
Her name was Elisbeth Rooney -E-l-i-s-b-e-t-h- I want you to know that to say this:
Every person has a name, God knows their name; try to learn names.
And every person has a story, many of incredible pain, as Liz, but many of lesser pain and more joy. Either way every person is worth knowing, and every story is worth hearing. And never let the appearance or the attitude of a person prevent you from hearing them and loving them. God loves them, and HE knows their name.

Downtown Fellowship 3-13-19