Shamiran Sarkissi Prater (1937-2013)

Usually you don’t attend a funeral expecting to be richly blessed, but all who attended the service for Mrs. Shamiran Prater left there with a peace in their heart and a love for God stirred in their soul. Shamiran was the wife of 50 years to a prince of a man, Foy. They have two children Dr. Edmund and Michelle and several grandchildren which she adored. At the funeral service, her son stood in front of the casket with a mastery of oratory skills and shared with us about this woman whom he dearly loved. He described her birth in Iran as one of seven children. Each of her siblings were born in a different town as her father tried to avoid the religious unrest that existed because they were Christians. During this time her family remained full of love, joy and friendships. These times of adversity only strengthened her. When Edmund was a child he complained about something so insignificant he doesn’t even remember what it was, but he remembers well what his mother said in response. She told him a story about when she was ten years old. The family hid under the house in a crawl space to avoid religious persecution. They stayed there a good while until a neighbor from next door made entrance explaining that if they didn’t figure out a way to get her father out, he was soon to be killed. They devised a plan in which the neighbor would bring a little wagon over for her father to curl into as the neighbor would pull him to safety. She explained to Edmund how she watched her father leave the crawl space in a wagon after hearing his promise, “I will see you again.” And she did see him one year later. Then she turned to Edmund and asked, “What were you complaining about?” Edmund said, “nothing mother.” Shamiran’s parents, God, and experiences of her youth sculpted her into an amazing woman of strength and compassion. She studied hard as a teenager and was accepted into nursing school at 16 years of age. She was able to attend nursing school at Christian Medical Center in India. Years later she would continue her work at Summit caring for infants. “She loved her babies,” Edmund explained. He read a letter from a family whose baby she had cared for during its critical time. In the letter the reader learns that Shamiran not only cared for the children in the unit but also the families. This family’s letter included lines such as “God sent a perfect angel to us when he sent you.” And “each person who meets you becomes a better person.” After all, she did see life differently than most around her. She found strength in adversity and perhaps even appreciated life more than most. She passed that love for life and God on to her family.

Shamiran wasn’t only generous in her care for others, but also with her possessions. Edmund told of Foy placing their Buick for sale after buying a new one. Shamiran came in from work describing this wonderful young woman whose family would take the car. When Foy asked if she had gotten full price, Shamiran said, “No.” “What price did you give them,” Foy asked. “I gave the car to them. They really needed it.” She also paid for another students school. She constantly gave to others because of her love for a giving God.

Shamiran was close to God. At one point she went through a difficult time of medical tests without telling anyone. Afterwards she told her family, and they questioned why she would go through all that alone. She looked confused with the question explaining, “God was with me, I wasn’t alone.”

Her love for God and Foy defined this marvelous woman. God gave her strength in adversity and Foy gave her a devoted companion for life. Her love for Foy caused her to live much of her life on the other side of the world from where she began. It may seem like an unlikely story that a man from Fayetteville, Alabama would marry a beautiful Iranian girl, but God works in mysterious and wonderful ways. In recent years when Shamiran learned of her condition that would slowly take the presence of her mind from her, she asked Foy, “What is going to happen to me?” He simply answered, “I will take care of you.” For five years he has lived every day by her side. He has fed her three times a day. One nurse explained to the children, “Foy loves your mother.” “Yes,” they answered. She said, “You don’t understand. I love my husband and see others care for their loved ones here, but what he has for her is real love.”

To Foy and all the Prater family we extend our love and prayers. We also thank you for allowing us to share in life with you. You bless us with your example of true love. May God comfort you in your time of loss.