An important lady in my life died this past weekend. I grew up going to fairs and livestock exhibitions and knowing her and her family as if they were an extended part of mine. She put in a good word and helped me and my family career-wise when I was finishing college. Then, when Bridgette was born, she was like a second mother to me - coming over or calling every day for a while to check on us and just generally share her time. She was a role model, a mentor, a wise advisor, a strong supporter, a good cook who shared her bountiful table, and a good friend to me.
She also was the first person who was our babysitter when my Bridgette was six months old. She kept Bridgette all day long so I could go with a group of young teenagers on a picnic trip in the Smokies. When we got back to pick Bridgette up, she was just as happy as could be and laughing and enjoying all the attention being showered upon her and probably never even missed me but it had been a long, long day for me fraught with guilt and worry at leaving this little mite who had been so dependent upon me for the past year.
This woman's obituary bespoke only the tip of the iceberg about such a woman. When I read the opening line - "after a lifetime of serving others with a kind and gentle spirit..." - I just broke down. How I wish folks could say that about me! Isn't it amazing how we can read something like that and really, really wish we could be that way but know that there is just NO WAY that it will EVER come to be? Why just this morning when I was doing a menial task for Mike - one that I hate with a passion, cutting his hair - I was mumbling, grumbling, cursing, frowning, scowling, and muttering about it in hopes of finally getting through to him how I hate to do that and wish he would just go to a 'real' barber. Yet, the entire time he just sat there with a smile on his face and enjoyed the attention. And, really isn't that all it was about? He could easily stop off and get a 'real' barber to cut it on any afternoon drive on his way home. There are ample opportunities. However, he just loves the attention and I begrudge that. No, I don't begrudge that he enjoys attention from me, I just begrudge having to snip off the ends of his hair. I would shower him with all sorts of attention that is MY choosing, but this is one way that Mike chooses and here I am being awful about it.
Miss Bobbie's obituary said: "She was pre-deceased by her devoted husband of 46 years." If nothing else, doesn't this speak volumes about the woman? In this day and age with more than 50% of first marriages ending in divorce and the rate going up exponentially for subsequent marriages, forty-six years is nothing to sneeze at. I'm sure there were times when she mumbled and grumbled about her husband but this woman probably did more to cheerfully give her husband attention in one day than I could ever accomplish in one year. Notice also that it states that her husband was "devoted." Yes, he knew a good thing when he saw it and never spoke ill of her or called her some sort of disrespectful name or treated her with anything but appreciation. He revered her and stuck by her when times were easy to celebrate joint accomplishments and he was the same when the going got tough and suffering was shared. His nickname for her was "Little Mama" and she lived up to every inch of it and then towered over his big frame with her love at times, I'm sure.
The obituary also stated that, "she was a faithful partner in their family dairy farm operation and they raised two sons who continue the family tradition." The words in that statement which stand out to me are "faithful partner" and oh, how true that was. She might not have been the one tromping in the mud and muck every morning and afternoon all those years. She might not have been the one toting or lifting each day, but she always had meat-and-three and huge glasses of sweet, iced tea on the table when her husband and sons and anybody else, for that matter, entered the door. Plus, in her kitchen she also served as a short-order cook catering to their desires. She might not have worn a shirt-waist-dress, heels, and pearls every day but she was the epitome of June Cleaver when it came to house-keeping. She kept the home tidy, inviting, and comfortable. She also managed the book-keeping part of the business which is not unlike managing the office of a small corporation. Not only that, but she could often be seen outdoors pitching in to help out with the farm chores , chasing a cow, or driving a piece of equipment just like any other farm hand. How do you think those two sons knew how to continue the family tradition? They learned it from their parents and grandparents and she was truly a role model in teaching them as a partner in the business operation. She was a partner in the operation in every sense of the word. Knowing how important it is to have a partner, I certainly am reminded that I should strive to be a stronger one in my own marriage.
The newspaper memorial further said, "her grandchildren were truly the light of her life and they brought her much joy in recent years." I know that the children her sons and their wives gave birth to were the ones referenced here and Miss Bobbie's eyes did light up and her whole countenance became glowing in those young children's presence. I could have predicted this almost thirty years ago, though, when I saw her nurturing the little mite I left with her for the day.
The obituary went on to share more information about her unselfish attitude, "her life of service had a wide outreach through her work as a Pink Lady and the UMW at her church. She hosted countless farm visitors." She embraced others and we felt her hugs long after her physical presence was miles away. Wherever she went she was looking for ways to make life more pleasant for others. Never seeking the spotlight, she was always the one in the background accomplishing the little things to pave the path and make it smoother for others. I wonder how many young people would benefit from recognizing a role model like this who is a public servant as well as a private one like this woman was. Somehow I'll bet we wouldn't have such a cultural attitude of entitlement these days if there were more folks like Miss Bobbie.
She was one who showed a genuine interest in almost everybody who crossed her path. As the obituary stated, "Her legacy is that of an inquisitive and ever concerned nature that put all others before self." She asked questions and truly was a life-long learner. In her youth she was a school teacher and that learning about others and gathering knowledge was a part of her nature. She wanted to know people, not just be an acquaintance. She wanted to lift people up and make them better, not just encounter them. When I think of the number of people I encountered this week, I wonder how things might have been so, so different for them as well as for me if I had been more inquisitive and concerned and put them before myself. The world might certainly look different today.
The obituary ended by saying "her generosity will be deeply missed by a wide-ranging host of friends." Even though we had drifted apart over the years - her living in a different geographic part of the state that is a good four-plus-hour drive. We didn't have the opportunity to talk every day or drop in for a visit or even just bump into one another at the grocery. Yet, I will certainly be one of that host of friends who will deeply miss her and her generosity.
Rest in peace Miss Bobbie.