A couple days ago a beautiful friend was set free from the shackles of this world and a body that was twisted and ravaged by disease. Phyllis was a feisty, independent woman, she liked it that way and we loved it!
As I have been reflecting on not only my relationship with her, but my 11-year-old son Parker’s relationship with her my eyes overflow with joy. Although we only knew Phyllis for a few years, merely a snapshot in time of her life, we were so blessed by her and our lives enriched. Of course, she would probably disagree with that!
She loved to tell stories (she was such a great storyteller) and share her wisdom, particularly with Parker. To watch her interact with Parker with such a kind, generous heart and develop such a beautiful friendship despite the more than 7 decades between them was such a gift. She always was interested in what Parker had to say and loved his questions. When they would plant flowers together she always engaged him and taught him not only about the plant and how to plant it, but the story behind the orange zinnia’s and orange begonias, why they carried meaning for her. When Parker expressed curiosity about things in her world, such as the birds in one of her trees, out came the binoculars and bird book so they could identify it and learn about it. They had some of the greatest conversations about rocks, plants, the Protestant Reformation (REALLY!), photo’s she had, even that the best type of root beer float was one made with maple nut ice cream, not vanilla (we had to take her word on that since Parker is allergic to nuts!).
When she was hospitalized this spring I saw the beauty of the relationship between them come out in such a beautiful, simple, loving way. When I went with Pastor to visit her in the hospital Parker sent a simple card created on notebook paper that brought back the smile that had dwindled from her face in the recent months. Smiling because of the seemingly simple things most of us would not notice in the drawing that Phyllis did, her flower garden, in detail including the zinnias. Parker was upset when we got the news of her diagnosis of terminal cancer and not only wanted to make sure that a “care card” was put out at church for the congregation to sign (something that is usually is done, but he wanted to make sure it was done) he wanted to personally deliver it to her. On the day we went over to visit and give her the card, we also made a special stop at the flower shop so he could get her an orange begonia. It was a wonderful visit and to see her smile despite all that she was dealing with made it even better! The following day we received a call at the church from Phyllis. She had found time to read the care card and was laughing and giggling about Parker’s note, so much so you could feel her smile through the phone and she wanted to share it with everyone. You see, on one of our first visits, she showed us some raisins she was “making” with grapes that she admitted she had kept too long. She had placed them on a paper towel on her counter and would roll them over ever so gently every day and they were slowly turning into raisins. Now, I have to admit that when she wanted us to try one, we were hesitant but did anyway and they were GOOD! What made her laugh so was that Parker wrote “you make the best raisins ever” in the care card.
Friendship is priceless and ageless, and if we confine ourselves to our own worlds built around our own interests we will miss out on the beauty life has in store for us, I hope everyone has a Phyllis in their life.
Till we meet again my beautiful friend….