Monday, July 28, 2008

Church Ladies in the Basement and How I Became One

This past spring one of my elderly quaker friends passed away. He was in his eighties and cancer took him so quickly that the meeting barely had time to process the fact that he was sick before he was gone.

I was not ready for him to be gone. I wasn't ready not to hear his clear voice singing hymns out of the silence or coming up with just the right biblical quotation. At our liberal meeting, he was one of a handful attenders with such a strong background in scripture and the meeting was richer for his presence.

I found myself sobbing at the end of the meeting when we learned he had passed away and it was his wife who comforted me. She said it was a rare privilege to be able to say goodbye to a spouse of sixty-some years.

When it came time for the memorial service they needed people to help organize the pot luck and I willingly agreed. All I knew was that I needed to show up at 8:30 and that the family wanted all ingredients listed for every dish (for the benefit of those with food allergies and sensitivities).

There was a lot of food.

I happily kept busy through the many surprises: four times as much food as we expected, the presence of a caterer, and the fact that the two people in charge of the food-- me and another friend of the family-- had no idea what we were doing. She was a young woman in her 20s. I am 36. At one point we started giggling about the fact that we were the blue-haired church ladies in the basement.

When my friend's daughter met me to thank me for helping she was shocked. She had assumed that I would be of an age with her parents.

She actually gasped when her mom introduced us!