Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
A recent letter arrived with a question—that is not unusual—but I was thankful that it was an easy one to answer rather than one dealing with eschatology or what one does with a recalcitrant teenager. Perhaps I know a bit about the first but certainly nothing on the latter. Elisabeth’s testimony of her daughter Valerie, is that she gave her no trouble at all—well their was some discussion on the length of her skirts—this was during the sixties and the daughter preferred to have them a bit shorter than mama was going to allow. No need to tell you who won that one, you guess which. One woman on hearing of the great relationship that they had said to Elisabeth, “Just wait until Val passes through the teen years.” Elisabeth later used to mention this in some of her talks that as far as she could remember that the teen years were trouble free. Oh well, that’s a bit of the past.
The request was for an update on Val and if it was correct that she had five children? If you would also mention something on our condition and what is taking place at this stage of life. I suppose some wonder about us as did one who had heard—from who knows where—wanting to know whether or not it was true that Elisabeth had passed on. In fact Elisabeth’s brother Dave had a condolence card from one who had learned of his sister’s passing. But back to the question to which some of you would answer with, “Not five but eight” and you would be correct. Perhaps it was prophesied to be for when she was very young perhaps five or so someone asked, “Valerie what would you like to be when you grow up?” Without thinking the youthful voice pronounced. “I just want to be a mommy.” No one can say that she didn’t get her desire. Too bad that she did not mention a desire for traveling for with her pastor husband and children as they came along, plus the variety of pets and things, they served churches in southern LA., followed by Laurel MS., then Orange county CA., and Greenville SC. The eastern most call took them to Kinshasa Congo where Walt pastored the English speaking church. At present they are in Southport NC. All of that in thirty five years. One sure would learn how to pack and what one can do without.
Now as to the eight a quick run down from first to last: Walter the oldest lives in Brooklyn NY and manages rebuilding of warehouses into small commercial units. Elisabeth resides in England with her pastor husband Mat plus three children. Christiana lives in LA area of CA with her husband and has a job in a hospital. She is one of two that was married last summer, Jim is next also married and spends his time flying one of the Air Force refueling “tankers” alternating for a period Stateside and then somewhere in the Mid-East. Colleen has recently moved to Orange County, CA while Evangeline has settled with her husband of less than a year in Revere, MA. Theo is going great guns in his first year at Catawba College in North Carolina. That brings up the “caboose of the Shepard train.” Sarah who is the only sibling living at home in Southport and preparing for departure to College this fall. Not long ago a letter arrived to Elisabeth which in part said, “You must see a lot of the grandchildren. When we explained where they live they said, “Oh, I see.” But from what we hear they are all doing well, thanks be to God, and “good down home” upbringing.
For Elisabeth and the “ol’ Codger,” seen as “a somewhat eccentric man, especially an old one I’ll try to hit—our main “felt loss.” That would be our twice a year trip to Dallas for a home school program called EXCEL. The program has now ended but for the past 13 or 15 years it became our home away from home since Elisabeth used to give talks to the young ladies Through that program we met and made a good number of Texas friends and we miss seeing them now. Other changes are more subtle until it becomes as the hymn writer pens it, “Change and decay in all around I see.” It would be awful if we were left there but his next line lifts us with, “O thou who changest not, abide with me!” With Elisabeth it is mainly the inability to get words out which is frustrating especially to me when I can see in her eyes that she is longingly waiting for an answer and I have to make a stab at it or say, “We can see about that later.” It does not seem to bother her much and she understands more than what one would guess. Her quick wit is there as was evidenced one evening at supper. She and Joy were still at the table as I started to clear and then wipe the table. In doing so I brushed up against her arm whereupon she took my arm and pushed it away with some vigor. With that I said, “Now don’t do that. You be sweet.” There was no reply and so I stroked her cheek and told her, “You’re sweet; you’re sweet all the time.” Her instant retort, “Only when necessary!” We couldn’t help but laugh at that exchange.
Physically she is strong as a horse—has perhaps had five doctor’s examinations in forty years and has never had a headache in her life. The fast paced walks that were part of our daily routine ended eight or so years ago. The “Magnolia two step” is down to a “Strawberry driveway shuffle” and that only on balmy days with sunshine. Wherever it is, either Joy—who is with us until June—or I have an arm about her for stability. A question that is often asked of me is whether or not Elisabeth can sleep at night. Evidently old folks have a problem doing so but not Elisabeth. She has perfected the ability to lie down like a baby, be asleep within twenty three seconds and stay in the same position from eyes closed until I wake her. After breakfast a trek to the rocking chair to enjoy the sunlight streaming in on her and nod off until—well until Joy or I bring a drink to her or when I rouse her for a bit of a chat. As to her use of vitamins or drugs none. The pharmacies would be bankrupt if their customers were of her ilk.
Even though there is not much going on at the Cove yet for some reason we have a lot of visitors. Recently a young Korean college student came for a few days and brought along delicacies which were new to us. She did the cooking and even brought along chop sticks to add to the reality of sampling the new taste treats. There are also four very loving women from New Hampshire who have come a few times to “minister” to Elisabeth by being here for a time of fellowship along with spirited hymn singing followed by a delicious lunch which they bring. Between the conversations, song time and ‘tucking in” at the table a good part of the afternoon has passed and it adds much to our somewhat monotonous daily routine. Not that Elisabeth is vocal in her appreciation but I can see it in her smile and those blue eyes that convey more than words alone can say. Now to my own situations I still chew with my own “pearly whites” and have all original joints still in place. A phenomenon of getting taller has occurred in old age with the top of the skull growing through my hair. So for now I thank the Lord that I can still see and care for the things at the Cove.
We still travel well and recently returned from two weeks in CA. We had a variety of unusual experiences including meeting a woman who lived with her family a half a block away from me in Norway during The War. Her father had a store on the corner where I went to get our ration of milk. How we connected was that Gloria, a friend of hers, had read the Ramblings were I put in a bit about my trip to Norway a few years ago. She made a copy and gave to Marcia saying, “This might interest you.” We met Marcia and her friend at Grace Community Church and enjoyed lunch together in the church’s grill room. A funny thing happened there in that someone came in who recognized Elisabeth. Next a few others arrived and some photos were taken. There then followed a couple of teachers leading their elementary school children to greet Elisabeth. I’m certain the children were dumfounded at being marched out of the class room to meet a couple who in their eyes would look ancient. Next was what could only happen in the world of today. Within a half hour a lady arrived with two EE books and said, “Oh good, Elisabeth is still here.” I just saw her photo on Facebook and that she was here and I rushed over to meet her and have her sign my books.” Imagine meeting someone in a place that none but four knew about. The providence who and how we meet is mind boggling. Later we had the privilege of being in Marcia’s home for a longer visit and reminisced over the past which seems to be common pastime at a certain age.
We were having our base, by the graciousness of Sam and Lois Bechtle, in San Clemente. Lois is the daughter of Kathryn Morgan who was a life long missionary in Bogota Columbia. She in turn was the one who greatly influenced Elisabeth to think of Ecuador for a field of service and showed her compassion when she heard of the death of the men by getting into her pickup truck and driving to Ecuador to be with the widows. She too had early on lost her husband under strange circumstances. During the week Lois had a Bible study where we met a woman who on the weekend would attend a retreat where the speaker was Margaret Ashmore a long time friend of ours from Denton TX. She said to Margaret that she had just met EE—the end of that story is that we got to have a night at the retreat and spend time with Margaret who we assumed was at home in Texas. Then there was Lisa, known only via mail but I had thought that it would be enjoyable to meet her. Well we were not far from the area and I said let’s swing by if she happens to be home and we can just say hello. We found the house but I was somewhat wary for a sign stuck in the lawn near the door announced that entry would be met with armed resistance. I braved it and rang the bell. Lisa answered and was she ever more surprised to see me. I told her that we were in the area and found that there were two families with the same name but since the phone was unlisted then doing the “knock on the door” was the only way. We got the right house on the first try and had a nice time together.
There were other providential happenings but I’ll not bore you with more except to say that when you are in Phoenix do not miss eating at The Greekfest Restaurant at 1940 East Camelback Rd. How did we get there? Well it was a long drive from San Clemente, but interesting. In fact we did 1950 miles in less than two weeks and had thought of taking in San Jose but nixed that on the grounds that it would be lunacy to add more driving to a relaxing holiday. We hope that all of you had a joyous Easter. In the Service that we attended the greeting of the morning was, “The Lord has risen, “with the response being, “The Lord has risen indeed.” Can there be any greater truth? And that’s it from The Cove.
What is better than all the above verbiage? Two photos of Elisabeth and a young admirer at the unusual “meeting” at Grace Community Church. Wonder what he’ll think of it in 20 Years?
Ps. In these days of economic woes I at last end with the good news heard yesterday 11 April, 2012 on the hourly radio newscast, I suppose coming from one of the many White House Czars, that after all these months of rising gasoline prices the government claims that there has been a decrease at the pump of 2/10s of a cent per gallon. If paying in cash and the total is $47.36 and 8/10s of a cent do I need cut 2/10, out of a penny or do we pitch in the extra toward paying down the national debt? However can we stand all that good news?
And that’s it from The Cove.
God bless y'all,