Coping with Grief
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Nedra Clarice Swafford Pilant was born August 1, 1927 and grew up in Merkel, Texas during the Great Depression. She passed from this Earth into the arms of Jesus on January 14, 2023. She leaves behind children: Keith (Carolyn), Myra, Claire (Greg); grand- daughters: Angela (Darius), Amber; son and daughter of the heart: Mark Cain (Linda) and Donna Mulkey; numerous nieces, nephews and friends. Especially close and helpful were the Kelly Hudson (Vicky) family and the late Charlie and Sara Deason extended family. We are also very grateful for the many people who became life-long friends while caring for her at Independence Hill and at Stone Oak Comfort and Care home. Nedra was the youngest of 11 children, 7 of whom survived to adulthood. Her father died during the Great Depression, working 2 jobs away from home while living outside during a bitter winter. Nedra was just 8, and her mother took in laundry and ironing, and cared for both very young and elderly neighbors, in order to feed her own family. The lessons of frugality, tenacity, ingenuity, kindness, optimism, community, gratitude and trust in God that she experienced growing up became deeply entrenched during these times. After high school, she worked at the Camp Barkley Px, the Texas State Teachers College print shop and library, and her sister Mollye’s cafe in order to pay for college during WWII. Her UNT service club, The Green Jackets, was helping students sign up to get chest Xrays when the technician found tuberculosis in her lung. Nedra could not complete school but received good medical care at the TB Sanatorium in Carlsbad, TX where she met Jim Pilant in their nursing school. When well enough, Ned went to Gail Business College and also took flying lessons! She even worked in a factory attaching watch springs onto their hubs, passing the parts along in cardboard boxes before conveyor-belt assembly lines existed. Nedra also worked for three different oil companies in the charming little towns of west Texas. She married Jim and they moved to nearby Snyder, where Keith and Myra played as toddlers and Jim was the DJ at the radio station. They moved south to McAllen where Claire was born, and later Lytle, where there was just one 3-story school for 1st-12th grades, and a beautiful church only 3 blocks away. A train had to be taken into San Antonio in order to go to the dentist or doctor. Imagine multiple trips over five years with three little kids! Ned planted a large corn field in the backyard and built a treehouse, then a fort for the kids. She taught them about the plants and animals in the area, taught them how to read, ride bikes, climb trees and go all the way down the big slide and across the monkey bars! She always inspired creative thinking and adventurous spirits, and she said the sweetest bedtime prayers over her kids. Later, they moved to San Antonio where Nedra taught them how to use a pogo stick, how to keep a hula-hoop going, and how to ride the backyard merry-go-round up to speeds of Mach 5! She was the kool-aid mom, the best cake decorator for birthdays, and the neighborhood brownie and cub scout leader. Over several years as a substitute teacher at Dellview elementary school, she walked with the kids a mile each way because she did not have a driver’s license. They walked a mile to the grocery store, and they walked to church, also a mile away. She loved everyone she met and was so well-loved in return that she kept in touch with students, neighbors, friends and even one elementary teacher for over 50 years! Nedra never learned to swim, so when they moved to Houston, she learned to drive and had everyone take swimming lessons (plus dance and gymnastics for the girls) at the Dad’s Club YMCA. Each child learned to play at least one musical instrument, and their lives were full of productive activities. She and Jim executed (on a teeny budget) grand family vacations that took them through the wonders of 47 states and into Canada. When they moved back to San Antonio, Ned worked at Dillards while the kids were in middle and high school. She completed her bachelor degree in Industrial Arts in 1976- at what was then North Texas State University! Ned became a caseworker for the Texas Welfare Department, then for Childcare Licensing and Protective Services. She made many good friends during those years and remained in touch with her ‘Eager Eaters’ into her 90’s! Her friends at Churchill Baptist Church have prayed for her and supported her throughout this time- almost 40 years! We are so grateful for them especially and for God’s love which they continually demonstrate! Ned and Jim lived and worked in Tehran, Iran just before the revolution and loved the land and its people. Life for foreigners became too dangerous over time, and they were suddenly evacuated in the middle of one night, flying out from a secluded grassy field lined with armed soldiers, with only what they could carry on their backs. They hoped to return, but it was not possible. Later, they lived in Egypt briefly. These experiences allowed them to travel abroad and do unusual things (such as ride camels) and meet quite interesting people. Later, in full retirement, Nedra loved keeping her garden, reading, painting, crocheting, and spending time with friends and family, especially with her granddaughters! She had earlier purchased a small second home at beautiful Lake LBJ and enjoyed the simple tranquility of that area for almost 25 years, making more good friends there. After Jim died and a severe injury sidelined her, Ned moved into Independence Hill Retirement Community, enjoyed her hobbies again, attended a small church on site, and made wonderful new friends there too. Her life was characterized by a positive attitude no matter what, and she tried to stay active while in touch with people even during the pandemic, but it was challenging and exacerbated some health problems. Nedra had said her good-byes and died very peacefully, leaving behind friends and family influenced forever by her faith and love. We are extremely thankful for Hope Hospice, Silvia’s Angels, and the Georgescu family for the kind attention and care given to Nedra and family in the last 2 years of her life. Interment will be in Merkel, Texas.