ALFORD: <span>Sandy Stafford was that 1,000 watt bulb who could light up any room</span>  

Loud knocking on the door awoke a husband from a sound sleep at 3 in the morning. When he opened the door, he found a man, who had obviously been drinking, standing on his porch, asking for a push.

The husband slammed the door in the man’s face and headed back to bed. But his wife scolded him, telling him he should be ashamed of himself for not helping.

“Don’t you remember a couple of months ago when our car broke down and we needed help? How would you have felt to have a door slammed in your face that day? I think you should go give him a push.”

The husband dragged himself back out of bed and walked outside, calling out into the darkness: “Do you still need a push?”

“Yes, please,” came the slurred reply.

“Where are you?”

“Over here, on the swing,” replied the man.

I had told that old joke to my friend Sandy Stafford some years ago. Sandy rolled her eyes and then burst out laughing. I thought about that a few weeks ago when I got the news that Sandy had died at age 81. As we’re all prone to do in such times, I found solace by thinking back through years of happy memories of this lovely lady.

It had been my great joy to be Sandy’s pastor in Owenton, Kentucky. She wasn’t just a parishioner. She was a true friend. Well, she was more than a friend. She was family. She was a lady of strength and spunk and grit. I like to describe Sandy as a 1,000 watt lightbulb in that she brightened every room she walked into.

What has been etched most deeply into my memories of Sandy was the incredible care she took of her husband Jerry who died in 2019, some three years after suffering a severe stroke. Jerry had always been as strong as a horse until the years caught up with him. So Sandy, in her late 70s at that point, literally wore herself out taking care of him.

This wonderful lady became a round-the-clock nurse to the man she loved. I wrote about her back in 2016 when Jerry spent weeks in the hospital, mostly in intensive care.

The only time Sandy left Jerry’s bedside was when her two daughters arrived to relieve her. It was heartwarming to see this family’s devotion. What I saw in them was love in action.

Most church-going folks know the Bible has much to say about love, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13, which provides a wonderful description of what love looks like: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I witnessed that kind of love in Sandy’s care for Jerry as he lay in the bed, unable to do anything for himself.

“It’s been remarkable, really,” I wrote at the time. “I have been touched to see her tenderly hold his hand and silently pray for him with tears streaming down her cheeks.”

Pastor Pat Butcher rightly said Jerry would have died decades before if not for Sandy and her willingness to push him to protect his health.

“You WILL NOT die on me,” Sandy told him in no uncertain terms when he was bedfast and ready to give up. “You WILL get better.”

And he did get better … with her pushing.

It was a sad day when the Lord called Sandy home, but, then, I thought about what a happy day it was on the other side. I like to think Jerry was waiting there to welcome her and to thank her for all her wonderful kindnesses to him while he was recovering from that stroke, all those hospital stays, all the rehabilitation, all the pushing that was necessary to get him better.

The truth is, everyone needs a push once in a while, and we, like Sandy, should be ready to give one.

Reach Roger Alford at 502-514-6857 or

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