Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflection on a Friend's Passing

Artus died. She was the 93-year-old mother of my childhood friend, Gretchen. Artus and her four kids lived about a block from us and I spent quite a bit of time at their house, especially in my elementary school days.

I liked Artus. She was always kind and welcoming.

I remember her cinnamon rolls. My mom's cinnamon rolls are as desirable for their lovely sweet frosting as for the roll itself, but the secret of Artus' was her lavish use of cinnamon and sugar and the timing of the thing. I was skeptical when Gretchen offered me one of her mom's cinnamon rolls (what, no icing?) but it was fresh out of the oven, and oh-so-heavenly!

I'd never seen a player piano before I met Gretchen's family. They showed me how the cylinder fit into the piano and how it could play the music if you simply pumped the pedals. I could have watched the keys press and release for hours and the scrolls of paper with the pricks roll by as oldies poured out of that amazing piano.

One day I went into the bathroom and lifted the lid of the toilet. Gretchen's brother had drawn a pair of eyes on the inside of the lid and had written, "I see you!" But they didn't see me for long -- I hightailed it out of that bathroom as soon I as saw them!

Artus took her kids to the little Christian and Missionary Alliance Church up the street from us. I don't remember our own church having VBS, but each summer we would go to VBS with Gretchen and her brothers. Artus also hosted Good News Club in her home during the school year. I wonder how many years I attended that club, heard Miss Nelson share the stories, and grew in my love for Jesus.

Peach, do you remember the day we wore our paper dresses to Good News Club? How did we ever talk Mom into letting us buy them? Getting a paper dress on was tricky enough, but walking and sitting in one was even trickier! They were good for about one wearing since you could hardly get them off without tearing them. It was a rather short-lived style, as I remember.

Artus never drove, so she walked, every day, long distances. She walked to get where she was going, and she walked to keep ahead of the debilitating arthritis that stalked her. We'd see her walking past our house, and she'd stop and chat with my parents when they were doing yard work. This went on for at least 40 years, rain or shine, even when she had to rely on a walker.

After she moved in with Gretchen three years ago, I stopped by to see her. I wondered if she'd remember me. As it turned out, it was one of her good days and we had a great time reminiscing about life.

I didn't realize how important Artus had been in my life until I found myself blinking back tears while I told Tom my memories of her. The tears surprised me, but they shouldn't have. This good, faithful woman who loved her children and their friends offered me the same safety and support my own parents did. creating a deep bond. We were more connected than I knew.

Thank you, Artus, and good-bye. You gave me a gift long ago and now that has taken me years to unwrap. It was your gentle presence in my life, accepting me, affirming me, modeling grace. Thank you. It's a gift I will forever cherish.

1 comment:

Joan Husby said...

Beautiful, the power of an unassuming life. Thanks for letting us meet Artus.