Oh, sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect! Oh, sweet and blessed country That eager hearts expect!*
Well, I got a little weepy in the car yesterday morning on the way to work. I had just heard from a friend that another friend’s mother had died. The friend was at our reunion this weekend and her mother had died the day after she returned to Virginia. Listening to Steve Earle’s Pilgrim was just a little too much for me.
Harriet and I met in the three-year old class at Sunday School and went to school together starting at age four. She is my oldest friend.
Sometimes I would go home with her after church because she was an only child and needed some company. So I have known her mother a long time. Her father was much older, a dignified, shadowy figure in the background, around whom we had to be quiet. But her mother was quite a gal.
Unlike other mothers of that period, she always wore pants–grey flannel pants with a blue oxford shirt. It was like a uniform. She wore a navy blue dress to church. She was from Texas and spoke with a distinctive accent. She was a small woman, but she knew how to shoot, and God help the person who broke into her home or threatened her child. She was tough–Barbara Stanwyck tough.
Furthermore, she was an M.D. at a time when there weren’t a whole lot of female doctors. She had worked in a M.A.S.H. unit in Korea**. She had seen it all.
After the war, she got married and had a child, and she retired from doctoring. She moved into a house in suburban flyover-ville and lived a presumably quiet life. But what do I really know? To me, she was a pillar of the Altar Guild.
All through high school I sat with her in church every Sunday, because my own mother skipped church and prepared her Sunday School lesson in her classroom. I logged many an hour with Harriet and her parents in the third row from the back, Epistle side.
This past weekend we were talking about people’s mothers and how you always knew the ones who didn’t really care about you and the ones who probably didn’t even like you at all. I knew Mrs. T liked me. She liked me a lot.
Here is a picture of Mary T (still wearing grey flannel pants) in 1985. She is pictured with her first grandchild, along with my daughter on my mother’s lap–all four named Mary.
* Jerusalem the Golden by Bernard of Cluny, Hymn #309 (Lutheran Worship Hymnal)
**I am not sure of my facts here, but it had to be Korea (not WWII) because of her age.