Those of us who have elderly parents don’t often think about the life our parents led before old age set in. We see them as idle, helpless, quietly supportive, struggling… watching from the sidelines as life in all it’s busyness moves on without them.
In fact, our parents, at one time were the worker bees of society, the teachers, doctors, farmers, engineers, nurses and soldiers–the patient and dedicated moms and dads. They had a strong work ethic and a patriotism to be envied. Treating people with kindness and respect was a given. We don’t hear about their lives because many of them have forgotten the details, or because humility prevents them from sharing. And many times we don’t know about their rich and varied contributions to society because…we don’t ask.
My mother, who is 90 years old, recently handed me a letter she had received from a co-worker over 60 years ago. It was written in faded typeset on a small piece of yellowed, fragile paper. She gave it to me out of the blue as we got in the car to go for a pedicure which I had gifted to her on her 90th birthday.
As I opened the folded piece of paper and read the typewritten words, tears filled my eyes. This amazing note of gratitude and love from a friend upon my mother’s departure from her civilian job at the Department of the Navy, described my mother to a tee in the most beautiful language…some of which has long since faded from the lexicon. At the time the note was written, she was leaving to marry my father, a young marine, and had just received an award for her outstanding work.
This note was written at the apex of my mother’s productivity. She had been a country girl from the upstate of South Carolina who had moved to the city and, as the note suggests, made a tremendous impact there.
Here is an excerpt from the note:
You are leaving for a new life today–my choicest good wishes go with you. I cannot bring myself to say “goodbye”, Peg , so I am using this informal method of telling you that more than anyone else in the activity, I regret your leaving…
Your equanimity and “sang froid” in times of stress and emotion throughout the activity, has always been a source of comfort, and I might even say, inspiration, to me, as well as to the rest of us. There is a simplicity and dignity about our Peg, that softens feeling which often runs rampant in a crowd and cheapens everything it touches. You have been the leavener who imbued kindness, sympathy and understanding. The “outstanding” which you received this year could not have been accorded to anyone more deserving of that honor…
My mother has loved and served the Lord for most of her life. This note reminds me how impactful a life lived for Christ can actually be. You see, it was the Holy Spirit within her that allowed her to be the “leavener” in her workplace. It was he who enabled her to show love, patience, understanding and kindness in stressful and difficult situations and he can do the same for us today.
God wants to use us, dear friends, as peacemakers, healers, helpers, and encouragers. Are you impacting your workplace for the better? How about your child’s school or “Moms” group? Never forget that we are in the world to be the salt and light, and to bring the help and hope of Jesus Christ to humanity.
I feel very blessed to be the daughter of this amazing and inspiring women…this leavener…this Peg.
(sang froid – composure or coolness, as shown in danger or trying circumstances. Aplomb, poise, self-control, calm. )