O, That Will Be Glory!
Before I ever arrived in my current home town, God had set up a meeting with an individual who would make a profound difference in my life over the next 17 years. Via a request to the local internet service provider in what was to be our new community, my sons were “introduced” online to some kids their age; and I became acquainted with one of the mothers over the next several months.
Settling in to our new home, the mom I had “met” online invited me to a coffee gathering at the home of one of her friends. She believed it would be a good way for me to quickly get acquainted with a number of local women – and it was! In just a few weeks of Tuesday morning coffee sessions at Delma’s house, I had a solid group of new friends to make my transition to a new state and community smooth and pleasant.
In her early 70s and bound to a wheelchair, Delma was the least handicapped individual I have ever met. She provided in-home care for bed patients – a private nursing home – with the assistance of one or more friends, and had been doing so for many years. Because she could not get into everyone’s homes, this core group of friends all had our gatherings at Delma’s house, including parties for Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and etc. She also hosted the monthly prayer and planning meeting for the local Christian women’s club.
Over time, I learned much of Delma’s history. She had married in her mid 20s, but her husband was killed in a tragic car accident only three months into the honeymoon. She did not know it at the time, but she was pregnant. No one knows for sure whether the grieving had anything to do with it, but Delma gave birth, on what would have been her first wedding anniversary, to a son with Cerebral Palsy. John Hugh never walked or “talked,” although he had his own special way of communicating with his mother and immediate family members. Delma cared tirelessly for John Hugh, and he lived to be 18 years old – much beyond the medical community’s expectations.
The ultimate southern hostess, caregiving was always a part of Delma’s life. Her grandmother and mother were both quite frail in their later years, and she spent many years caring for them. She took in patients, especially when she could not go out and work at a regular job while she was caring for John Hugh and other relatives at home. In her later years, she also cared for her brother, who went Home to be with Jesus in the early 90s. At that time, her brother’s son invited her to move out West – and we are so glad she said “yes!” Having spent her whole life in the Southern U.S., moving to a ski resort town less than an hour from the Canadian border was quite the life change! Referring to herself as a “polar bear,” she loved snow and was well known for her prayers for more of it throughout each winter. Family and friends celebrated her 90th birthday with her last September – at her house, of course!
From her wheel chair, Delma cooked soups and baked casseroles and bread for friends and neighbors who had little time for cooking in their busy schedules; she always made a zucchini/cheese casserole for us on Wednesdays so I would have less cooking to do on Bible study night. When the city guys plowed her driveway, they got a loaf of bread; same with the staff in the doctor’s office and the vet clinic. Her “company brownies” are famous city-wide! We will take a plate of them to Bible study tonight to commemorate her “homegoing.”
Delma was many things, including an artist specializing in miniature paintings. We have several of her works, and will always treasure them. And I will never forget her plaster of paris 3D version of Mt. Rushmore! Painting under the name Ann Comer, she had a gift for miniaturizing scenes and characters. I think her smallest painting was only about an inch wide.
Delma was a faithful prayer warrior; and even when she could no longer get into a vehicle to come to church, she was at the head of the prayer chain and did calling for special events and gatherings.
When I received the call late last night that Delma’s brief stay in the nursing home was over – she is reunited with her husband and son and mother and grandmother – my mind roamed through 17 years of memories: loading her and her wheel chair up in our friend Judy’s minivan for marathon yard sale adventures, driving her to Christian women’s club luncheons and to church on Sunday, Chataqua parades and her booth in the park, a six-month “camping” spot in her front yard when we had sold our home and the new one was not in place yet, watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, yard sales in Delma’s yard where we all got together and spent whole weekends visiting and passing our “good stuff” on to someone else to enjoy, with a pot of “everything but” soup on the stove (everything but the kitchen sink).
Last winter, I slipped in to Delma’s every Tuesday and Friday to change from my snowboarding clothes and have a quick bite of lunch before I went to work at 12:30. This winter, I still stopped by Delma’s to change, but there was no welcoming or lunch – Delma was in the long-term care unit – and it was SO different to be in her home without her there. The snow left early this winter, but Delma left in God’s perfect time. We look forward to the day when we will see her again!
We have no doubt that the first words she heard were, “Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant.”