Monday, March 1, 2010

A Special Gift

I met her at church. We were both sitting alone and she offered to share a hymnal with me. She introduced herself, but for the life of me I couldn't understand her thick Massachussetts accent. One Sunday, the pastor announced that Bud Larrabee had cancer. After service she told me that Bud was her husband. She took my arm tight almost as a shield from all the people offering best wishes and condolences on the bad news on our way out of church.

One Sunday I brought my friend Brian and we worked out a scheme. He would simply introduce himself to her and we presumed that she would introduce herself back.

B: Hi, I'm Brian
M: Nice to meet you, Brian. I'm Maaahhhge.
B: Excuse me, did you say Marge?
M: Yes, Mahhhge.

Marge! This was good because she invited me over for tea. It's not good to go to someone's house for tea when you don't know her name.

Marge and Bud's (who kicked cancer like a bad habit!) house was gorgeous. Like out of a magazine. But they built it themselves, a modern cape-style, decorated it with antiques, and insisted on comfort. Put your feet up kinda people. She told me they found the antiques in their younger days when it was the fashion to try and find junkyards from long ago. People would go and dig and not tell anyone else where they were finding their stuff. Marge and Bud had found the oldest junkyards. As I type this, it sounds outlandish. But they live in New England and anyway that's what she told me. They had beautiful stuff.

She would have me over for tea, and for supper and for frappes on the patio. It was almost as if she could anticipate what I needed. One night I walked in and she had set the rocking chair in front of the fire for me. It was enough to wash that college stress right outta my hair. They dine by candlelight every night. Being 2000 miles away from home and living on cafeteria food, it was pure heaven. They outfitted my first apartment with furniture from their beach cottage that they ended up selling. They came to my concerts. They sent me home with goodie bags.

I visited once after college and it was wonderful. We exchange letters sporatically. Fewer and fewer as the years go on. This week we got a package from them for Ava. The sweetest handmade items! She knit the sweater, and made the doll by hand. The doll (sleeping face on one side, awake face on the other) had a little tag attached that said "Hi! I'm Francine!" She is actually the first doll or lovie that Ava has shown much interest in. She already has a little stain on her face, which makes me cringe a little, but it makes me glad that Francine will be well loved.

Thanks, Marge, for everything.

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