Getting to Know Charlotte by Linda Miles

CharlotteCharlotte Clark Estep married my only brother, Ted in 1959. I had the privilege of knowing her for fifty plus years. If anyone selected three words that most described Charlotte…they were caring, loving and kind. Mother of three, (Cathy, Teddy and Julie) and grandmother of five, (Dylan, Blake, Colby, Laken and Landon), Charlotte was the epitome of nurturing and care giving to those she loved. She was an outstanding cook who loved feeding her family and friends. Regular everyday meals were a work of art for Charlotte….If you asked for the recipe she would smile and say “just a little of this and a little of that”.

Besides working at a bank for many years, Charlotte was the ultimate caregiver to many elders in her family, church and community. If you needed a listening ear, a comforting word or a good laugh, Charlotte could provide all three.

When Charlotte discovered a tiny lump on her neck she thought nothing of it. Always thinking of others versus herself, she chose not to tell anyone. By the time the small pea-sized nodule started to grow she was encouraged by friends and family to see a doctor for evaluation. After several tests and examinations, a needle biopsy revealed cancer cells. She underwent surgery and treatments that left her mouth dry and her body weakened. But in the normal “Charlotte mode”, she went about her busy life devoted to her husband, children, grandchildren and other family members. She also cared for those in her church and community in time of need. Toward the end of her life, Charlotte said, “I only have one regret; I have taken care of everyone except myself”. In the last year of her life, the cancer came back with a vengeance; it had spread through the lymph glands to her lungs, spine, ovaries and bones.

Charlotte chose to be at home during her final days. Her daughters and her 17 year old only granddaughter became her constant caregivers for six months. Watching them made everyone realize Charlotte’s work on earth was complete. She had passed the gifts of caring, loving and kindness to the next two generations which was her legacy. We all miss and love Charlotte.

Because she loved helping others, Charlotte would be pleased to know that OCC was founded on the very principles she stood for: In a time of need, be there!