I’ve made a new friend. Actually, I’ve gotten reacquainted with an old friend. Well, it’s not really either. Yet it’s both.
Marge is five years older than I am. Since both of us are in our sixties, the gap is insignificant. But when we were in high school, it was ginormous.
She and I grew up attending Chicago’s Moody Church. I watched her from afar, since she was one of those sparkly people no one could miss, but she was too far ahead of me to be a friend. Fast-forward fifty years to today, and its clear why we have recently become buddies. Her husband Jim died a few weeks before Nate, so we are widows together, moving through our grief simultaneously.
The two of us initiated an email conversation months ago, and this morning I awoke in her guest room in Knoxville, TN. She’s named her home “The Bryant Bed and Breakfast,” half way between Chicago and Florida, a stop-off point for any friend who’d like to come. With her penchant for hospitality, she throws open her front door to all kinds of people… even me.
Marge has been reading this blog since the outset, encouraging me with positive comments and rich insights about widowhood. I’ve appreciated her wisdom and her incredible attitude of gratitude throughout her time of dealing with such great loss.
This woman has the equivalent of a PhD in hospitality. When I arrived last night after a harrowing four hour drive from Asheville that should have taken two, Marge was waiting in the street, waving me in. She had freshly brewed hazelnut decaf ready, along with pumpkin pie and ice cream.
Jack was enthusiastically ushered in, right onto her white carpeting, where she offered him doggie treats she’d purchased just for him. “He’s not just any old dog, you know,” she said, kneeling next to him. “He’s like a person.”
After our coffee time, we walked Jack around the neighborhood, sharing husband-stories and support for each other. “I still keep Jim’s shoes by the front door,” Marge said. “It brings me comfort.” I loved that. (See them in the picture?)
Her guest room awaited me. Atop the quilted bed lay a brand new night gown, the tags still on. “For you,” she said. “Easter colors.” Next to that was a stack of fluffy towels. On the night stand was a water glass, coaster, clock, lamp, a verse of Scripture and a smooth black stone into which the word “inspire” had been carved. “To keep,” she said.
Knowing I’d be writing the blog, she’d readied her office where her computer was already warmed up and on line. The bathroom countertop featured guest-sized creams, shampoos and washes, with a choice of decorative night lights. Candles flickered, and the toilet paper end had been folded into a triangle. “Would you like me to draw you a bath?” she asked. I felt like I was at a spa.
This morning when Jack and I climbed into the car for our ten hour drive home, Marge had already fed us a bacon and egg breakfast and given us a treat bag for the road. “A little something to eat each hour,” she said. “It makes the time go faster.” Jack received his share of goodies, too.
Marge could teach a class on hospitality, better yet, a class on how to show love. Even as she’s grieving for her Jim, who literally fell dead in one instant with no warning, she used her precious energy to ease my struggle. She’s “Marvelous Marge,” a sister in the Lord, and a precious friend for sure.
“She has been faithful to her husband and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” (1 Timothy 5:9-10)