Patricia Ferguson Lawless, Patsy, was born to Louise Riggs Ferguson and Randell Hewitt Ferguson on 04/13/1942, in Natchez MS.
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The youngest of eight children, her mother ran out of names to give and forgot to give her a middle name. She was like any other youngest child, she could get away with murder and it would never be her fault; she never cleaned her room, and she never had chores. She was the baby. She eventually grew up and went to Copiah Lincoln Community College where she met the love of her life, and future husband, Charles David Lawless. They dated the entire time in college, he followed her to Charity School of Nursing in New Orleans; on the day she was leaving, her mother asked her to do one thing, be nice to the other girls.
She graduated nursing school in May of 1964 and was married on June 6, 1964. Eventually, they had a son in 1965, Greg and a daughter in 1968 (or 1969 if you asked her), Stephanie. For many years, she was the RN supervisor on the psychiatric ward at Charity Hospital in NOLA before they decided to move to Mississippi. She became heavily involved in her church. She ran the CYO for many years, touching so many young impressionable lives. She was able to bring this group on many trips to Saltillo, Mexico; Disney World; Dollyworld; Florida too numerous to count. Most of her group of teenagers had never been out of the county until she came along. She chaperoned teenagers to the mission in Saltillo Mexico and educated them on the importance of assisting those who were needier than themselves.
When her husband became ill, she stopped doing everything. He became her main focus for years. He was in the hospital for almost a solid year and she never left his side. She was his strength when he had nothing left. During her husbands stay in the hospital, he contacted the Biloxi Diocese Youth Minister Office and nominated her for the God and Youth Award. It was presented to her for her hard work and dedication to the youth in her parish. She eventually took him home where he would need dialysis in the home, so she learned how to be a dialysis nurse. Eventually, he knew that he would not be here for her to the end and he encouraged her to try to get her RN license re-instated. She had numerous doctors write letters to the fact of what she had been doing for all those years; and she herself wrote a letter detailing the care that she had been giving. Within two weeks, her new license arrived in the mail. She said goodbye to the love of her life on 10/25/1999 and said there would never be another man like him, which was true.
After a few weeks, she decided that she needed to get out and work again, so at the ripe age of 57, she met her other best friend, Cynthia, at Dunbar Village Nursing Home. There she became a fixture until Katrina hit. She, along with everyone else, including all the elders of the home evacuated to Brandon, MS. during the storm. She slept on a mattress on a gym floor with all the other employees and elders and cared for them until they learned that their home was destroyed and they wouldn’t be going back. She had to kiss each one goodbye as they found other places for them to go or if they went back to their families. When she finally was able to come back to the coast, she started to rebuild her life. Eventually, at the age of 65, she became a hospice nurse with Odyssey Hospice where she coaxed her best friend to join her, there she remained for eight years. Her daughter eventually joined her in hospice at this time and they worked side by side for years just like she did with her mother.
She was always willing to go the extra mile, she never said no and she was always able to take on the gruffer patients as she was a little gruff herself. She had a way about her that just brought everyone around her at ease. She was able to ease a patients suffering while calming the family. She was a great educator, taking new nurses under her wing and teaching them things they would have never learned in nursing school. She was the only one in a meeting that could raise her hand and say she was able to use an iron lung on a patient. She could work circles around new nurses and she repeatedly did. She was your “go to” nurse. During her days with hospice, she made some of the closest of friends that she considered her children. Some may have been her superiors, but, she felt she was mother hen to all.
She cared for everyone’s children as if they were her own grandchildren. Along the way she became friends with a few special nuns from Vietnam and learned that they ran a mission in Vietnam that supplied bicycles for needy families. She took it as her mission to give as much as she could to give them the bicycles they needed. She regularly visited places to double her money to give more to the nuns. But, it wasn’t just the people she did or didn’t know she gave to, she gave her Thanksgiving day every year to deliver meals to people that had no families and were on hospice. Eventually she left hospice and, at the age of 73, she decided to go back to her home away from home, Dunbar Village. There she was joined by her best friend again and they worked side by side. Again she was a fixture, she was the nurse that, even though, she was technically part time, she worked more hours to ensure things were done. She again poured herself into caring for the elders, she, along with others started to raise money to take the elders on weekend trips to church, the casino, to restaurants, or shopping. She was mother and grandmother to all employees. She was there until the end.
Now, to say that she was all RN and not mother would be an understatement. Because, during all these years, she also raised two amazing children. Her son, Gregory Lawless was the apple of her eye. He was the spitting image of his father, soft spoken and a gentle heart. He married his sweetheart, Cassondra, and together they had her first two granddaughters; Christina, who followed in her mothers and grandmother’s footsteps to become and RN and Emily, who had her first great grandchild that’s the spitting image, red hair and all, of his great grandfather. Her daughter, Stephanie Parker, who was just as strong willed as she and who also followed in her footsteps and became an RN. She married a man just like her father, Heath, and together they went on to have her last two grandchildren; Aaron, who was the only boy and stole his grandfather’s heart along with hers and Grace Louise, who is equally as strong willed as her grandmother and mother. Her life revolved around her family as well as her nursing career.
She would plan trips with each grandchild when they turned a certain age that she would take them on a memorable vacation. She made sure that she spoiled each one equally, making sure they had everything they wanted or needed. She relished in the joy of showing pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren to anyone and everyone. After Katrina, she lived with her son and daughter-in-law for a few years until she had another place. Weekends were usually spent with her daughter when they were both off from work and they would have quality time with each other. They were best friends and called each other multiple times a day just to see what the other was doing. That all being said, she was your typical nurse mother, if you weren’t bleeding profusely or a raging fever you weren’t sick and needed to get up and move. She raised her children to believe in strong work ethics, go to work, do a good job, do it correctly the first time and admit when you are wrong. She was a strong mother, but a loving mother.
She always knew where work life stopped and party life began! She believed in having a good time in the process. If she was invited to a party, you better believe she was going. Over the last few years, she was the life of every party in Natchez. If it was happening, she was there. Roles became reversed and the daughter became the chaperone, or in her words, “party pooper” when it was time to go home. But, she lived and she showed everyone else how it was supposed to be done. She made sure she went on trips with her niece every year. She would spend as much time planning her next vacation, next experience, next destination, next party. She was so full of life. She believed in do Gods work and enjoy your life! Her rewards were in heaven.
She is preceded in death by her husband Charles David Lawless; father Randell Hewitt Ferguson, mother Louise Riggs Ferguson; Brothers Randell Ferguson Jr., Paul Ferguson, Charles Ferguson. Survived by brothers, Prentiss Ferguson, Fredrick Ferguson and sisters, Katherine Killelea (Ferguson), and Mary Ann Mascagni (Ferguson); son, Gregory Charles Lawless, spouse Cassondra, grandchildren Christina Hendry (Lawless) spouse Chris Hendry; Emily Hall (Lawless) spouse Nicholas; daughter Stephanie Parker (Lawless) spouse Heath Parker, grandchildren Aaron Parker and Grace Louise Parker and 38 nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations in her memory to Dunbar Village Resident fund to enable the continuation of allowing the elders to live life to the fullest. Address is 725 Dunbar Ave., Bay St. Louis MS. 39520
A Funeral Mass will be held this Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11:00 am at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Pass Christian, MS with a reception to follow in the church reception hall. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am for friends and family.