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Woman known for her courage

Perhaps the only person who was really prepared for Barbara Tadlock Wood's death was Barbara herself.

I first met this extraordinary woman over 20 years ago when I attended Vacation Bible School at Rock Hill Baptist Church.

She and her husband, LaDon, were the teen class teachers that year.

She impressed me then, and in the years to come, I came to admire her for many things.

As many of you know, Barbara battled cancer for the last few years of her life.

Barbara, who tragically died far too young, was truly a woman of God.

So, last Saturday, I found myself at the funeral home pushing my own grief to the side as I went to pay my respects to her.

For unknown reasons, at the age of 48, she left this world, and now her family and friends' lives will change quickly and dramatically.

Barbara had a huge impact on my teen life, and then she did again at the 2004 Relay For Life.

Her son helped her make the Survivor Walk that night.

They held tightly to each other, and she was quite out of breath when it was over, but she did it.

She, like so many others that night, inspired others.

In the brief time that she was ill, she taught so many about courage and faith. She also taught us the importance of strength, determination and the importance of family and friends.

She did it all while never giving up on herself or God.

Just a few short days after my own mother's funeral, I found myself at this year's Relay.

One of the first people I saw was Barbara sitting in her wheelchair.

She called me over and expressed her concern about me.

This was her nature.

Here she was just weeks away from her own death, and she was expressing concern about my family and me.

She truly led by example.

In these first days without her, no one who knew her will be the same again.

I know there is a void there that is irreplaceable. But she will live on in our memories

I will remember two Barbara Woods. I'll remember the young mother who spent five summer nights so long ago teaching a group of rowdy teens about God and His wisdom and His love.

She still had her whole life before her, and she had a wonderful smile and a contagious laugh.

But I'll also remember the Barbara Woods of these last few years.

I’ll remember the one who taught us how to keep fighting, to keep climbing and to always remember that it takes one step at a time.

May she rest in peace, and may her family find some "echoes of mercy and whispers of love" in her memory.

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate.

He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 136 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilleadvocate.com.

Regular mail is P.O. Box 507, Greenville, AL 36037.