Her name was supposed to be Patricia. But by some miracle, her birth certificate read Pressana. "And we just never changed it. I was teased in school for it because no on had ever heard of a Pressana. When I found salvation in '89, God told me it meant 'to press on, Ana.' I've experienced a great many struggles in my life but I have to keep on, to keep going." What started as a haunting typo has become an encouraging motto, carrying Pressana through trials of all kinds.
Sitting in her brightly colored living room, surrounded by pictures of her loved ones, Pressana tells me story after amazing story about how she has invested in others and how she has been blessed in return. As we talk, she introduces me to each of her three children and four grandchildren. Every day, friends and neighbors gather at her house just to talk. Many call her Mom. "I keep a yard full," she says smiling. "And my porch is always loaded."
A singer, a mother, a cashier, and a licensed Evangelical pastor, Pressana has spent her life encouraging others. One cannot spend two minutes with Pressana without feeling the warmth of her kind and genuine demeanor. "I pray daily, 'Lord, let me say something nice to someone today.' I can't look someone in the eye without saying hello." Even customers at her work notice Pressana's positive attitude, often requesting her register. While she works, Pressana sings. And she sings in such a way that one doesn't only hear her rich, melodious voice, but also the depth of meaning in her songs. As a teenager, Pressana sang in her home Baptist church choir. Struggling financially as a single mother of three children, she began receiving requests to sing at concerts and church events. Though she never took a music lesson, she has sung at every church on Hilton Head Island and many around her home in Bluffton, South Carolina. Her next concert is on July 17th at First Baptist Church in Bluffton.*
But her joy isn't a result of an easy life. For years, Pressana suffered from seizures, despite taking two drugs that were supposed to lessen the attacks. After surviving five vehicle-totaling car accidents, Pressana couldn't risk driving anymore. "I heard a voice from Heaven telling me to get a second opinion." Pressana felt she needed to go to MUSC and within a week, both drugs were replaced with a different medicine. Pressana hasn't had a seizure since September, 2009.
In April of 2010, Pressana hosted a concert in remembrance and thanks to God for her healing. She invited choirs from surrounding churches. People from all ethnic backgrounds attended the concert. Leaning back, she smiled and told me how people who normally just sat through a church service were standing, dancing, and singing with her that day. "I'm praying for something like that for this coming concert."
Her oldest son, Willie, battled cancer for years. Finances are a struggle, many close family and friends have died, but Pressana presses on. Her joyful endurance is seen in her children. She crosses her fingers, "Our family is like this. I teach my children to love and respect one another and others, regardless of race, color, or background. Respect will carry you where money can't."
Pressana not only presses on, she dreams on. "Someday I want to do a recording, a collection of old hymns. I want to distribute it to the community and anyone who needs encouragement. Most importantly, I want to be remembered for my ministry to others in the Lord."
Favorite hymns: "Through It All" and "I Love You Today"
*Gospel Concert Information
Where: First Baptist Church in Bluffton
When: Sunday, July 17th at 6 p.m.
Theme: Praise the Lord Everybody
You're Invited: "I invite everyone to come. We're just going to have a great time!"