A visit with a 100-year-old friend

Featured image: Put the kettle on and color me summer.

MEANDER #11 Saturday 22 July  2017  Indiana celebrated its 200th birthday last year. Its first capital was Corydon, in the south central part of the state. Visitors come to Corydon to see the state’s first Capitol and State Office Building and related points of historic import..

We came to Corydon to visit Shirley Troyer. Shirley Hollaway Troyer celebrated her 100th birthday in February. Sadly, we live more than 300 miles apart from each other. Even a brief visit, though, again, erased all geographical barriers.

Shirley influenced many lives as a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, friend, public school teacher, classical music lover,  Sunday school teacher, librarian, reading promoter, quilter, and now as a nursing home resident living near one of her daughters and son-in-law.

Too often people who require long-term nursing care are faced with a marginalized social identity. Their family may be scattered, the number of their friends has dwindled, their physical faculties have declined, their dependence on others has become almost all-encompassing. Yet they are worthy as ever of utmost respect, care and love.

On Monday morning, 17 July, Marty and I walked around the historic part of Corydon. The buildings are not open on Mondays, but that was fine with us. We were there to see Shirley and planned to see her in late morning, after her visit to the beautician.

We stopped for coffee at the Kent Java Bar, walked past the attractive plaza the town built to commemorate Indiana’s bicentennial, and noticed that Butt Drugs next door advertised an old-fashioned soda fountain. The pharmacy also advertises “As always, free parking in the rear!” We may return for a visit in the fall when the temperatures allow more comfortable exploration.

Since Shirley’ has diminished vision, we brought her carnations and lilies that had some fragrance.

We tried to remember common experiences from the past, such as stories of climbing up to Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Shirley and her husband Francis took summer courses in Colorado for their MA degrees.

One story we retold was how almost 40 years ago Shirley and Fran had invited us for dinner on a Thursday evening. Half an hour after we were to be at their home in Bristol, Shirley called and asked, “Marty, are you coming?” Oh, no, we had forgotten. Going out to eat on a weekday was not part of our routine. Shirley kindly said to just come on out, the Jambalaya would stay warm.

We enjoyed dinner, once we got past our embarrassment. The same thing had happened to them once, Shirley told us that evening. They forgot a dinner invitation but the people did not call nor ever mention it to them. Thank you, Shirley, again, all these good times later, for your call, your meal, your graciousness in understanding our foibles and forgetfulness.

We still have a large Christmas wreath I made from wild grape vines that Francis pulled out of the ground with his tractor.

Mostly our exchange on Monday centered on the surprise, joy, and blessings of the moment. We were just happy to sit together, smell the flowers, hear each others voices. Holding hands for a parting prayer made it seem that time stood still. God’s boundless and abiding care,  peace, and love filled the room.

I think of John Milton’s sonnet with the well-known line, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” It may have been written down by a scribe after Milton was almost totally blind. He died in 1674. To me the poem means that a person’s worth is not diminished by total dependence on others. “. . . who best / Bear His wild yoke, they serve him best. His state / Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed / And post o’er land and ocean without rest. / They also serve who only stand and wait.”

God’s purpose is not always visible, yet the people around us, especially those in total or near total dependence on others, are precious and whole and of everlasting worth in God’s sight. The brief visit with Shirley showed us again how beautifully heaven touches earth and time touches eternity.

Congratulations to bride and groom!

We had attended the wedding on Sunday of great niece Kaitlyn Mast and Emmanuel Ashibuogwu in Greenwood, a town south of Indianapolis.  It was truly a pleasure and blessing to witness Kaitlyn and Manny tie the knot. Both are graduates of Purdue University and many of their friends from there were present for the wedding and reception. We wish them God’s richest blessing as they begin their life pilgrimage together in their home in Chicago.

With Manny and Kaitlyn we look forward to doing as we did with Shirley and Francis, expressed in the words of Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park: “To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, / is the most perfect refreshment.”  I had to look up “verdure: “the greenness of growing vegetation.” We can apply that definition to people, too, as in contemplating “a condition of health and vigor.”

I end with a quote from Indiana-born legend, basketball player and coach, John Wooden (1910-2010): “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books–especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

We had a smokin fine late lunch at Smokin Jim’s BBQ, near Bloomington, on our way to Westfield on Monday.

Embrace summer in your very own special way.

-John

3 thoughts on “A visit with a 100-year-old friend

  1. Thanks for taking us along to visit Shirley. Fran & Shirley were a part of “loyal companions.”

    On Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 8:05 AM, It’s About Now wrote:

    > John Bender posted: “Featured image: Put the kettle on and color me > summer. MEANDER #11 Saturday 22 July 2017 Indiana celebrated its 200th > birthday last year. Its first capital was Corydon, in the south central > part of the state. Visitors come to Corydon to see the state” >

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  2. Thanks, John. I looked up Corydon in the Atlas and was surprised to find it was almost at the Kentucky border. No wonder it is 300 miles from you! I also found Vincennes and was surprised it was on the Illinois border. No wonder they picked a central location like Indianapolis to be the Capital in 1825! Even though I grew up in Indiana I never visited either of these historic sites.

    I like the Seward Johnson sculpture, Just one lick. We look forward to seeing more of his work when we come to visit you!

    Monty & Ginger

    My iPad says that a smile always increases your Face Value!

    >

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  3. You are a prolific and fine writer, John. I enjoy reading of your and Marty’s meanderings! I am reminded of how valuable each and every life is to God. He must watch Her children with delight as they play and treasure His/Her earth and creation. And then, to write about our experiences and record them for others to read, is a special gift!

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