Retirement has been nice to Pam Lipscomb.

"It's easy to make time to do what I want," she said.

Lipscomb wants to do a lot of things.

She recently picked up an old guitar to learn classical music — an interest she picked up as a teen.

She also is active in her church, Grace Episcopal, where she teaches Sunday School, leads a Serving Our Senior support group and leads an Education for Ministry class.

"Probably the biggest commitment I have is the Education for Ministry," she said, adding that the class is a four-year program.

She also is teaching herself Welsh.

Lipscomb started college as a theater major.

"When I realized I wasn't going to make any money off of acting, I went to nursing school," she said. "And I found out I really liked it."

She said her mother, who worked at Michigan's health department, suggested she become a nurse practitioner. Lipscomb trained at University Hospital in Oklahoma City and became certified around 1984. She said nurse practitioners are able to diagnose diseases and treat patients.

Lipscomb spent five years as a genetics counselor at Children's Medical Center. She also did ultrasound work for Planned Parenthood in Tulsa. 

"We had a big women's health area, prenatal area and pediatrics area," she said of her time at Planned Parenthood. "We did pre-pregnancy counseling. After she gets pregnant, she gets to go to prenatal. From there, she needed a pediatrician and we tried to get her on WIC (supplemental nutrition program)."

She retired as nurse practitioner in December 2017, when the Oklahoma Health Department had layoffs.

"They did it strictly on seniority. The woman who worked in Sallisaw had two months more seniority than I had," she said. "On the other hand, when we all left, she had to take over a huge area. And I thought, retirement's not such a bad thing." 

 

Finding the right

musical instrument

Pam Lipscomb said her first guitar was a real cheap one.

"After a few years, I thought I really needed a new instrument and I found a guitar someone had been selling for a good price," she said.

She said she started playing on her own as a teen, then took lessons for a couple of years as an adult, preferring classical music. 

"I love classical music; it has so much depth," she said. "I could play the other stuff, but it's not as enjoyable."

Arthritis in her fingers kept her from playing for a few years.

Then her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter encouraged her to learn the ukulele before a trip to Hawaii.

"They thought it would be easy because it only had four strings," she said. "What I found was, unless you're singing with it, there's not a lot you can do with a ukulele. My teacher, Ryan Liebig said, 'I think you'd be happier playing guitar.' And he taught classical guitar, too."

She said that playing guitar helps ease the stiffness of arthritis.

"I found that when I went back to playing guitar, I had so much more flexibility," she said. "It's not always easy. I'm making the notes with my left hand, which isn't as bad as my right."

 

Room found to

include ministry 

Lipscomb stumbled into the Education for Ministry classes while waiting for her husband to get out of some sessions.

"It sounded like they were having so much fun that I had to take it," she said. "I took the class and I went onto be trained as a mentor."

Lipscomb has been teaching the classes for 10 years.

Participants in this four-year, college-level course offered through Sewanee: the University of the South study New Testament the first year, Old Testament the second, religious history the third year and ethics the fourth.

She said the seemingly dry and academic program is "really one of the most fun things."

"We study, of course, Bible and history, but we also tell our stories," she said. "Because that's really the only way to grow spiritually is to tell our stories and to stretch."

She said she's found out things she "never really learned in church."

"Liturgical churches that follow the calendar cannot include everything," she said. "And there are some things people do not want to hear." 

Those include theological issues such as why seven pairs of certain "clean" animals were brought onto Noah's Ark. 

"The reason there were seven is that they were doing animal sacrifices, that's why they needed more than two," she said. "That's something you kind of miss when you just hear a reading in church."

 

Continuing to

learn new things

Lipscomb traces her ancestry to the British Isles, particularly Wales.

"From my grandfather's side, it was Scottish, and my mother's side was Welsh," she said. "Every time I see something about Wales, I feel like I'm a part of it."

She now is becoming more a part of it by learning its unique language. Lipscomb recalled watching her granddaughter learn Russian with the language app. She tried it, too.

"I did a couple of months learning French, then decided the language I really wanted to be able to learn was Welsh," she said. "It's a fascinating language and is so different from other languages."

Lipscomb said she's been learning for about two months and now is able to name fruits and vegetables. She said Welsh letter combinations have different sounds.

For example, two Ds together is a "th" sound and two Ls together is a "stopped S."

"You start to do S but you stop your tongue right before your teeth," she said. "They have that same sound in Icelandic and Cherokee."

She said she hopes to go to Wales someday and read the Welsh signs.

"It really got me interested in the Welsh culture," she said. "It's like a puzzle. It's good for my brain to expand and do a different language."

 

HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?

"I moved here because my ex-husband became a librarian at the VA. I really liked it here. I wouldn't be anywhere else."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?

"The whole city is supportive of all the arts. The little theater is great. There is always a concert going on, the art shows, the art crawls. For a town this size to be so supportive of the arts is astounding. And I really like the library and all the parks and walking trails. I appreciate having a hometown newspaper."

WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?

"More attention to people who are marginalized, a more coordinated effort to help people who are really struggling."

WHAT PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?

"Linda Hattaway. She is strong and brave and funny. She is a good friend of mine and has been a good friend for years." 

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?

"There are so many things that have been really great. The really best thing has been our granddaughter, because that's kept both of us (me and husband) completely engaged with everything going on at school. We volunteer at the school. At church and Muskogee itself."

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

"I really like to watch British murder mysteries. I belong to a book club. I really like to cook and bake low-carb meals."

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?

"Friendly and very giving community that, just looks out for the best welfare for all its citizens."

Meet Pam Lipscomb

AGE: 71.

HOMETOWN: New York City.

EDUCATION: Bishop Kelley High School; Nursing school, Oklahoma State University; Nurse Practitioner degree, University of Oklahoma.

PROFESSION: Retired nurse practitioner.

FAMILY: Husband Phil Lipscomb; three sons, one daughter (deceased); one granddaughter.

CHURCH: Grace Episcopal Church.

HOBBIES: Learning classical guitar, reading, walking in the park, learning new languages, church activities.

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