They gathered by the hundreds last Friday morning, spilling out of the main sanctuary at First Methodist Church in downtown Thomson and filling every seat in the church's Knox chapel.
They gathered to remember, honor and celebrate the life of Ruth Hall Knox, who served in various roles during her life, including mother, wife, daughter, grandmother, first lady of Thomson, Mayor's mother, socialite and family pillar.
"She was truly the epitome of a Southern Lady with style, grace and beauty - both inside and out," Rev. Liza Marler wrote in an e-mail to various members of Thomson's First Methodist Church in the days after Mrs. Knox passed away May 1 after an extended illness. "Thank you for all your love, prayers and support for Ms. Ruth, as many of us fondly called her, and her family."
But she was more than "Ms. Ruth" to me. She was "Gam."
That's what she told me to call her from the first day her grandson, Don, introduced us.
Over the years, she always had a hug and a smile for me whenever we ran into each other. She also had great words of encouragement and questions about my life and my family.
Friday's memorial service was a grand remembrance of Mrs. Knox - a spot-on depiction of the life she lived.
Rev. Tom Kerr described her as a "saint" - not a perfect person, with a perfect life, but someone who turned people toward God and His love. That, he said, fits his definition of a saint.
Rev. Sam Coker explained how she never would accept anyone doing just enough to get by. She expected people to live up to - and strive to exceed - their potential. He also remembered her love for her church and her family.
But it was something Rev. Kerr read - from a piece of faded paper he'd found in one of Mrs. Knox's Bibles - that will stick with me:
Forget & Remember
Forget each kindness that you do as soon as you have done it. Forget the praise that falls to you the moment you have won it.
Forget the slander that you hear before you can repeat it. Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer, whenever you may meet it.
Remember every promise made and keep it to the letter. Remember those who lend you aid and be a grateful debtor.
Remember all the happiness that comes your way in living. Forget each worry and distress; be hopeful and forgiving.
Remember good, remember truth, remember heaven is above you. And you will find, through age and youth, that many will love you.
I've always felt fortunate to call Mrs. Knox a supporter, friend and loved one.
But most of all, she was "Gam." And, for those memories, I will always be grateful.