A New Song II

She is barefooted, sitting on the porch when I arrive. I’ve been trying to get over to see her for a month—ever since her birthday. She’s a blessing to me because she lets me bless and Helen and I have been doing this for a while now.

Several years ago my women’s circle adopted the women of Helen’s circle—we put their names in a basket and each one of us from the “younger” group drew out a saint’s name. Some are with us no more and some have moved away and some just never did follow-up. But Helen and I have fallen into a rhythm and I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have Helen to write to, to think about, to surprise with a sit under the Mimosa tree.

Today I bring her a hanging basket, dripping gold and violet. When she sees me coming up the drive she says—in that grumpy way she has, “You don’t need to be wasting your money on flowers for me.”

But she surveys the petunias and gestures to a hook dangling from the porch roof.

Put them up there, that’s a good place for them.”

I hide my smile and do as she says.

Helen and I are sitting on her porch, in the shade of the Mimosa tree and she shows me her swollen feet and talks about her latest doctor appointment. She talks about the ants on the picnic shelter around back and tells how a wasp got in the house this week too.

My mind never wanders when I’m with Helen—the way that it does all day long…wandering from one thing to another, ticking off the to-do list. There is something so precious in being with her and I always feel time pull the emergency break as the wheels of my mind come grinding and squealing to a stop.

She is a fascinating lady and she never runs out of things to say. She once told me about a trip to Dubai she took when she was younger (I’ve never been to Dubai. I’ve never been out of the country or even out west). She also still is the chairwoman of the Community Cupboard—the local food pantry that she helped get started back in 1982. She drives across town two days a week to oversee that benevolence.

“I don’t drive anywhere except around the valley anymore,” she says, as she catches me up on Cupboard doings.

But the thing about Helen that draws me to her is how much she is who she is.

Her mind is wily and bright and she has a handful of girlfriends she likes to spend time with and if they neglect her…she gets mad. She expects to be treated like someone special. Because she is. There has been no slipping gracefully into the twilight years for this gentle lady. She likes to laugh and keep up on things and stay busy. She still talks about her husband like he is alive sometimes but there is no feeling sorry for the self in her.

We sit on the porch and the sun is moving up her swollen feet and I am sweating in jeans and long sleeves. We listen to the breeze blow through the bushes and when we are still, that’s when I hear it: the sweet song of a Meadowlark. My eyes scan the Mimosa tree, the Oaks in Betty’s yard next door and the Sycamores out back. But he doesn’t want to be seen—just wants to woo me and Helen with his lyrical whistle.

I cock my head to the side, close my eyes and listen. I can’t see him. But he’s announced his presence in the sweetest of ways.

Helen and I? We are not alone.

Ever.
With my sweet friend Jennifer today: 
  
And with the lovely kd:
JourneyTowardsEpiphany

Comments

  1. says

    I LOVE this story. I have learned to appreciate the ‘seniors’.
    Maybe it is because at age 57 I am not that far from where they are and my prayer is to be a sweet ‘older saint’ should I live that long.

  2. says

    This inspires me in so many ways . . courage to grow old and strong, to pursue an opportunity for friendship with an older woman, to give a gift, to sit under a tree and share me. Thank you.

  3. says

    The wisdom and settled confidence in those on in years, it does make you want to pull the emergency brake on the mind (love that sentence btw). I could feel the day, see you on that porch, hanging that basket of beauty, hear the meadowlark – you write so beautifully.

  4. Anonymous says

    One of the finest pieces of music and without a doubt one of my favorites is Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “The Lark Ascending.” Your words drove me to remember.

    These are the days when what we don’t see we learn by heart.

    Laure

  5. says

    Miss Laura, we have 5 inches of new snow this morning and it’s coming down hard — but, for a few moments I licked some springtime with you & miss Helen. What a grand taste!

    Blessings.

  6. says

    I love too many things about this post to name! What your circle did, the words “she is who she is,” the divine presence so evident, the meadowlark providing background music……..I could go on and on. Read this during my lunch break and it made the few minutes like a vacation.

  7. says

    I really like that “emergency brake” metaphor and that Helen and you get to sit and be…I always appreciate the blessings of being with an older friend…Thank you so much for the links…Lovely! I had to link to your last post because it wrapped a pretty bow on what I wrote about in my spring post…love it when God is stirring my sisters in similar ways…Praying you are having a blessed day, Laura 🙂

  8. says

    “She expects to be treated like she is special. Because She Is.” So are we all in His eyes, and whether we expect it or not, He expects it. Thanks, Laura for your ministry to the older folks, one of which I am fast becoming. By the way, meadowlarks are a part of my childhood memories. Their song evokes thoughts of Springtime. But don’t bother looking for them in the trees, for they are ground birds, kind of like the second person of the “bird trinity”. Their song is like the third. It finds us and tells us we aren’t alone. Ever!

  9. says

    Helen delights in the insignificant things in life that most of us miss.
    This is a good thing you are doing with your visits, and she looks forward to you as much as you do for her.

  10. says

    I love your phrase, “she is a blessing to me because she lets me bless.” Sometimes letting others bless us is the hardest thing to do – for me anyway. But a wise saint in my life once told me that if I was always doing, I was robbing others of the blessing of serving. Isn’t it wonderful to have wise women in our lives who have walked ahead of us? Thanks for your beautiful story.

  11. says

    Laura,
    I had a friend like Helen once. It was a friendship that didn’t last long due to her poor health, but I think of her often, and all of life she had stored up during her years….working for the Red Cross, traveling the world, growing just about anything.

    Neat woman. I believe friendships like this are needed.

  12. says

    Reminds me of my times with the “ancients”… just being who we are together, authentically and without pretense.

    You love lovely, friend. Thanks for loving me.

    peace~elaine
    PS: Love me some Audrey Assad as well! She takes me straight to the heart of worship.

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