Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
She would not draw your attention as you passed each other on the not so busy sidewalk of the small town where she spent most of her life. The apartments that she lived in were of the type that was eligible for rent assistance. Her life had not been easy with more than one marriage. She felt a special kinship with Elisabeth and spoke only once to her about past relationships and that only of the barest details. It was as though she took Elisabeth into her confidence letting her know that she had made some wrong choices.
Shortly before the birth of her only son her husband was killed in a truck accident. There were four children to take care of and she determined that rather than go out to work she would be available to care for them. This she managed to do through part time work and whatever community assistance was available to her. An added burden was that one of the four matured only to the level of a very young teenager. Later in life there was a grandson that became the husband to his Uncle's wife. Another grandson who was so despondent at the age of eleven that he committed suicide. When she told me of that and I questioned whether it could not have been an accident she simply answered, "No. we are certain that it was suicide."
But should you have chanced to meet her and exchanged some pleasantries you would have not leaned much about her for she would have brought the focus in on how you were doing and of your interests or concerns. She had a way of getting pleasure out of your life experiences perhaps since her “world’ was rather confined. It was through the ministry of the Salvation Army that she became a Christian. This led to her being involved with a Bible study group where she met a woman whose husband had walked out on her two days prior to her becoming a Christian. Their friendship continued on for thirty four years until death parted them. A weekly ritual was a Saturday morning breakfast and it was no quick cup of coffee, toasted English and “Thank very much” but a time of sharing the inner thoughts of their lives which had its joys, for laughter was as much a part of the present with them, as had the trials and pain of the past been.
How we met I am not certain. It may have been through her breakfast friend or it could have been when she accompanied a blind fellow who was going to record a meeting where Elisabeth was the speaker. She worked for him in his tape ministry and it was through this contact that for twenty some years she became the one that duplicated tapes, helped at times in the mailings and whatever else we asked of her. If she was unable to do so it was for a very good reason.
As I mentioned her world was limited pretty much to area covered by the local bus for she could not afford a car and had long since given up driving. Air travel was first experienced when we asked if she would join us at a conference in Texas. It was the first of two plane rides that she took the other being to Florida. She and Elisabeth went through the jet way first and were seated for a bit before it dawned on her that the jet way had led them directly on to the plane. That week at the Bill Gothard Ministries with about 60 young ladies aged 17-21 in hotel like accommodations with talks, music and prepared meals was as a new vision for her. It was a similar experience when we invited her to an Italian restaurant near her apartment. Perhaps a little above the average family restaurant but certainly not as I would say, “High on the hog.” It happened that shortly before that she and a friend had walked by the place and looked in through the windows and talked how nice it would be to have a meal there and now she reveled in the experience.
One might say that she had missed a lot in life but that would be far from the truth for she was content in her circumstance and in the reality of the goodness of God to her. Those who have traveled know that there is always one more place to go—just to see over the next hill. She didn’t voice the desire to do so but took pleasure from others who had been on the other side of the hill and in a sense Iived those experiences vicariously without envy. When she asked how our trip was and heard of it the response was, “Oh, that’s good,” and it was not only words but her face told of her joy in hearing of it. She loved Elisabeth and often told her so as well as prayed for her. Her first question when I came to see her alone was, “How is Elisabeth?” The last said was, “Say hello to Elisabeth.”
Over the years she had various aches, pains and health problems but never dwelt on them. Then one day the last battle began in the form of cancer. She took it matter of factly and began treatments until it became clear that this would not lead her back to health and she ended the treatments. On the times that we visited her at home she would still be joyful and concerned over how we were doing. There was always, “God is so good” and “Yes, Lord” and when she said this it was emphasized with forearms out elbows by her side punctuating the air and joy all over her face. She knew the Almighty beyond a shadow of a doubt. She reminded me of the Parson in a story that Elisabeth used in some of her talks of the contest held in Scotland on the reading of the 23rd Psalm between a Shakespearian actor and a local parson. The actor did a superb reading but the parson won out and someone asked the actor how that came about? Oh, said the actor, “I know the psalm but he knows the Shepherd. When our friend said, “Yes, Lord” or “Praise the Lord,” you knew that she knew Him. Her whole being spoke it.
There were a couple of short hospital stays and then Hospice. We were able to see her three times before we left town. Each time there were others in the room telling of memories, laughter was heard, some tears were shed but center of it all was, “God is good.” One day after 35 or so visitors had been there the staff said that the next day should be family only. Two days after we left, she left, to be pain free and joyous forevermore. Over a hundred friends attended the services a testimony to a life lived in serving others. In a banquet she would never have come in and taken a high seat but a low one and she was an illustration of one who in the end would be told, “Friend move up to a better seat.”
We surely miss her and perhaps I too will have that firmness, reality and joy that she had in exclaiming, “Praise the Lord.
And that’s it from the Cove.
God bless y'all,