The Lady’s a Legend!

Did you hear the roar just after midnight at the dawning of May 26th? It was the crescendo of cheers in heaven as Elfra Davidson quietly slipped free from her worn out earthly cocoon and spread her wings in heaven. “Who is she?” some asked. “She’s a legend,” came the reply, “Just wait and see, heaven will never be the same.”

Those who rise high in heaven are seldom the politicians and celebrities who greedily grab the limelight and spoils on earth for fleeting fame and fortune. No, the legends of heaven will be filled with names that few have ever heard of. Ones whose lives and deeds were hallmarked by kindness, faithfulness, and ‘hand on’ love in the hidden places that glue the world together.

Early on May 26th Elfra Davidson joyfully arrived home after 99 years on earth. She was looking forward to the moment. “There’s not much I can do here anymore,” she said, contemplating her gnarled arthritic hands. “If what we believe about Jesus is true, and I think it is, I’m quite intrigued and excited about what lies ahead. Could be quite an adventure.” She smiled at me with delight at the prospect and some impatience.

Real super heroes embedded in the nitty gritty of life seldom resemble the air-brushed, spandex clad, steroid pumped versions of strength conjured up by Marvel comics and the like. Genuine heroism emerges from passion, humility, conviction, tenacity, and no desire for the spotlight at all. It comes in the shape of a young girl, Anna Frank. It looks like the man Jesus, who resembled nothing close to the heroic Messiah expected by those who awaited his coming from God. It looks like an awkward man with a beak of a nose such as Paul. It looks like Mother Theresa, thousands of front line workers serving in the current pandemic, and it looks like Elfra Davidson.

Elfra was a tiny sparrow of a lady. You’d never guess what lay within. A large cluster of thoughts and words tumble out jockeying for the honor of describing her attributes. Tough, passionate, sharp minded and quick witted, kind, interesting, unselfish, generous, loyal, servant heart, humble like you wouldn’t believe, content, loving, joyful, and of course faith-filled.

Elfra and the indomitable Helena Brown

Jean Cutforth writes:

Elfra is someone I have always admired.  She was always quietly working in the background.  She was always encouraging and appreciative.  She lived her faith and was a prayer warrior.  She would however stand her ground. She was generous especially with her time, not only with the church but also with the Seaman’s Haven and Bread of Life.

I have known Elfra since I was a child (that’s 60 plus years).  Her mother, Diana’s (Patterson) grandmother and my grandmother were friends and would get together on Fridays.  One of my earliest memories was of going with my father to take a Christmas tree to Mrs. Davidson and Elfra each year.

I (John) met Elfra about 35 years ago when I arrived to pastor St. Alban’s Church in Port Alberni. She was already in her sixties but was very involved in the church as bookkeeper and Council member. She was a huge supporter of the Seaman’s Haven and delighted in providing a welcoming place for men travelling far from home.

Maybe I’ve always had a soft spot for Elfra because I calculated that my mother would have been about around her age if she hadn’t died way too young at 43 in 1965. But I know it’s more than that. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone so accepting and non-judgmental, so uncomplaining about her lot in life, and so interested in others. When I was with her she was always appreciative of the visit, never self-pitying, always had a smile, and made me feel completely accepted and affirmed, no matter what. Her mind and memory were razor sharp; it wasn’t as if she was naive or had no idea what was going on in the world; quite the opposite.

Elfra arrived in Port Alberni with her parents as a young girl. She was very close to her father who’d immigrated to Canada from Ireland. When she downsized she gave me her grandfather’s large silver trophy for winning a horse race in Ireland: The Killultagh Hunt Welter Cup, Run for over the Whinny Hill Course, 10th April, 1880. Won by John Davidson Esquire with Master William carrying 14 stone Three Miles. Unfortunately Elfra’s dad suffered a major heart attack at a relatively young age leaving her mother and her to share a home for many years.

In the 1939 Alberni District High School ‘annual’  Elfra is referenced as:

…. a capable and very helpful girl who is a good friend to all.   She is the person deserving all the credit for the super arrangements for this year’s dance ( 1939) . She was described as industrious and ‘has pluck’!

Lynn Burnip writes:

I have known Elfra for as long as I can remember…she has been in my life.  This is also the same for Jean Cutforth.  We  both remember Elfra when we were preschoolers, Elfra’s mom was a friend of our mothers and grandmothers….there was always shopping, birthday parties and of course church activities.  

She was a remarkable woman….and as I grew older and observed how she lived out her faith, I was impacted by her quiet strength, her peace, her faithfulness to Jesus and to us.   Elfra was direct and she spoke her mind, but it was always from a place of complete trust in her Lord.  Her perseverance to find the more…to leave the Anglican church and come with us through all of our ups and downs, twists and turns, she was like a rock…steadfast and constant.  She never complained…She personally encouraged me many times…particularly if we ( as leadership) perhaps  had had to do a difficult thing…she would call or see me and offer a kind encouragement

She so witnessed to me in the way she lived.

Elfra took care of her mother in her later years until she died in her sleep in her mid nineties. Elfra was in her sixties by then. After she’s fallen (about six years ago) and had her hip replaced I visited her in hospital and asked her about not being married. She didn’t mind the question at all. “Just never was a part of my life and I have no regrets. I guess I’m fortunate,” she said with a smile. She looked unkempt and frail in her hospital bed but couldn’t have cared less. She realized after the fall she wouldn’t be returning to her home on 6th Avenue again. Diana Patterson organizing moved her to an apartment and she was quite pragmatic, appreciative, and matter of fact about it all. No complaints, no moaning, no self pity or woe is me. She’d stopped driving only a few years before and had lived in that house for many years.

Diana recounts:

As you know I’ve known Elfra all my life but it is only since we moved back To Port in1993 that we became close. I soon realized that she was very interested in people always willing to talk and listen and pay attention to how they were doing. She often talked about praying for people. She tried to live for the Lord every day and expected others to do their best to do the same. She was always thinking of others before herself.

Elfra was very practical and would step up and do whatever was needed to help in the church and the community. I lost count of the number of charities she did the bookkeeping for like Seaman’s Haven , Bread of Life and so on . You will remember how many hours she spent cleaning and polishing for the sanctuary and the Chancel Guild. She taught me a lot and most of all that you always clean up after yourself. There is lots more I could say but think I’ll leave it at that for now.

Another hospital visit was in Port a few years ago after she had some heart trouble and we thought she wouldn’t be coming home. Instead of lying at death’s door I found Elfra ensconced in an armchair looking out the window. “Such a lovely view,” she said. “I can watch the birds.” Elfra could find a view to appreciate anywhere.

How are you?” I inquired, “I didn’t expect to find you sitting up.

“I’m tired,” she admitted. “The nurse keeps coming in and tapping my chest. I asked her what she was doing and she told me it was to check for blood clots. I told her not to worry as I’m ready to go.” That’s when she told me she was excited at what lay ahead, to travel over the hump, and experience the adventure on the other side of death.

Of course Elfra rallied and returned to her apartment where she received visitors, walked the block every day, and attended church most Sundays. Then she had another setback and was taken to hopital in Nanaimo. Why am I recounting all the hospital visits? Because character is most clearly revealed in times of hardship when everything gets stripped away. I visited Elfra having been told she might not make it through the night. When I approached her bedside she looked asleep and frankly close to death. I leaned over and tapped her shoulder not expecting much response.

How wrong was I! It was as if Lazarus rose from the dead. She opened her eyes, greeted me, and then began chatting like there was no tomorrow. Her supper was delivered and she sat up, “I’m feeling quite peckish.” She wasn’t afraid to receive help as her gnarled fingers made it hard to grasp a fork or spoon. “How’s the food?” I asked. “Oh I can’t taste anything,” Elfra responded. “So I just imagine I’m eating something I like.”

And that’s how she approached life. She took everything in her stride. She couldn’t understand why people could be so miserable or difficult. “We have so much to be thankful for.” Serving others was as natural to her as breathing. And she always asked without fail, “How are you? How are the girls, what are they doing?” She was consistently and genuinely interested.

In a little town tucked hidden away in the mountains and valleys of mid Vancouver Island there lived a wonderful woman full of wisdom and many, many years. “No Jimmy, she wasn’t a fairy tale, she was a real life person whom we were fortunate enough to call our friend. Of course we’ll miss her; but she lives on in our hearts forever – a true legend.”

I took this picture of Elfra in worship a few years ago. Never too old or tired to stand and sing “Hallelujah!” to the God she loved and served practically, reliably, and willingly. The song I’ve chosen to end this tribute is a strong and wild declaration led by young men singing about God’s power, presence and resurrection. No song for a harmless little old lady, rather the song of a warrior ready to take ground and do battle. Because that’s who she was from the inside out.

Many thanks to Lynn Burnip, Diana Patterson, and Jean Cutforth for contributions and pictures.

Rattle

Saturday was silent
Surely it was through
But since when has impossible
Ever stopped You
Friday’s disappointment
Is Sunday’s empty tomb
Since when has impossible
Ever stopped You

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Pentecostal fire stirring something new
You’re not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon
Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too
I believe there’s another miracle here in this room

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Yeah
Whoa
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?

My God is able to save and deliver and heal
And restore anything that He wants to
Just ask the man who was thrown
On the bones of Elisha
If there’s anything that He can’t do
Just ask the stone that was rolled
At the tomb in the garden
What happens when God says to move

I feel Him moving it now
I feel Him doing it now
I feel Him doing it now
Do it now, do it now

This is the sound
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, rattling, yeah

I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)And the bones began to rattle
Rattle, rattle
Rattle
God said live, God said live
Hear the Word
And this is what He said

Live, live
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Live, live, live, live, live

This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
Dry bones rattle
Dry bones rattle

Rattle, rattle, rattle
Live, live, live
Live, live
Live, live

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Steven Furtick / Chris Brown / Brandon Lake

RATTLE! lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

9 comments

  • What a beautiful tribute to this wonderful woman, who will live in our hearts forever….you have captured exactly who she was…Thank you John…xo

  • Thank you for this wonderful tribute to an incredible woman

  • Thank you, John. I had only started reading and was surprised to find myself in tears of joy and thankfulness for the many times that Elfra served as a role model for me. God has given her her wish and she has now graduated to heaven. What a lovely commencement speech you have given her. She loved you so.

  • What a lady. I loved to tease her most Sundays. She gave back as good as she got and then some. I was often humbled by her quick wit! I will miss her. Thanks, John, and all for your tributes. Bill Bingham

  • Elfra contributed in many ways to the Seafarers Mission of Port Alberni financially as well as daily prayer for them. She considered the Seafarers to be ‘her boys’ and was touched that some of them came to see her one afternoon in Fir Park Village last year. These same ‘boys’ came back to Port Alberni earlier this spring and asked after her. They remembered her kindness, gentleness and her fine ability to carry on a meaningful conversation with them.
    Matt Gregory

    • Thanks Matt, She was such an advocate for those men over many years…..often had her friends ( including my Mom) , baking, donating things needed etc…

  • Elfra was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Upper Room Seafarers Centre. On January 2, 2020 she was visited by several crew members of the Santa Serena, who expressed appreciation for her generosity while they celebrated Christmas in our Port. Her influence spanned the globe through her entire lifetime.

  • Elfra was my dear friend. I learned to begin my day at Fir Park with her smiling face. She often sent support to Into all the World to help the young street boys I worked with in Uganda. She sponsored a young man who learned to love her and pray for her. His name is Kalyango and he is around 30 now and a strong Christian young man. Have fun on those golden streets, Elfra.

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