"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands........" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Betsy Gorden

Have you ever heard a phrase, smelled a fragrance, or seen an object that instantly makes you think of someone or a certain place in time? I am sure you all have had this happen....
every time I see these old metal yard chairs...... I think of Betsy Gorden. Betsy Gorden was 79 years old and I was 10 when we first met. We had moved to a new town, a new house, and Mrs. Gorden was our new neighbor. We both had large back yards, and it was at a time where there were no back yard fences and neighbors respected boundary lines without one. Which meant there was no privacy to your outdoor, backyard, activities......everyone could see you...but usually was invited to come join in the fun or to just sit and visit. Betsy Gorden always wore nice flower printed dresses with matching earrings. She was always pleasant and friendly. The only thing I ever knew about her private life was that she was married to her sweetheart, who, on their 50th wedding anniversary, fell over dead from a heart attack while he was at the bus station buying tickets for their trip to Hawaii. They never had children and she was all alone in this world. Those old metal chairs......she would sit out in every afternoon at 7:30, in silence, looking out in one direction, in the cool shade of the trees. Her back was always to us, and as I looked over, I thought to myself.....she is so alone......she must be so very sad...I bet she is thinking about her husband and missing him so.... No one sat with her in the chair next to hers. Once in a while, I would burst over and plop down in the chair, uninvited, and tell her my tales of the day in my 10 year old chatter. She would sweetly smile at me and always tell me to come back and visit again...........As the years passed, we moved away, saying goodbye to Mrs. Gorden......never seeing her again. But I always thought about her, especially when I saw the chairs, and wondered who was taking care of her....
Now, in the late afternoon, I sit out in my chair, reflecting on the day, the past, and thinking about the days to come. Sometimes, I dream up new designs to stitch, sometimes an idea for a story pops into my mind, sometimes I have a long talk with God. Sometimes, my sweetie, or one of my children will stop by, interrupting my solitude and my thoughts, and in an instant they are gone, leaving me to the silence. And it finally dawned on me a few years back as I thought about Mrs. Gorden,.......... I am sure she was not sitting there feeling sad.... all this time, she was probably collecting her thoughts with her memories....having a good talk with her Lord..... and just escaping from the everyday chatter....and I would burst in and try to rescue her....when she probably would have been glad to be left alone. I think of her patience and smile, as I hear, once again, footsteps come up behind me , and the squeak of the chair next to me, by the next visitor. So....how about you? What object, smell, words, or something you hear brings a memory? Is the memory of a person? A long lost pet? A little one who has left your nest? I can't wait to hear!

28 comments:

Kelly said...

This was a very touching and reflective read. Thankyou for this. It helps me to remember to slow down and enjoy each minute. I dont know if she minded so much, your coming and sitting with her. I bet she liked it sometimes. She was alone more often than not. Jergens original scent hand cream, that brings back a smell from my childhood. My Mama used to use that hand cream all the time, and you know the way Mamas are, they will always be fussing over something near your face with their hands, a smear on the cheek, sleep in your eye, something. So it was that smell I remember. A good memory indeed. I bought some of that hand cream recently, and it smells just like I remember it. :) Hugs, Kelly

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

what a touching story you've told us today, kathleen.
whenever i smell pine trees and hear bluejays chattering, it takes me back to camping at my very favorite place in the whole world as a kid. we would spend weeks along the river, fishing for our food, going barefoot the whole time, and swimming during the hot afternoons.
i can remember sleeping under the stars. Just laid out on a sleeping bag on the ground and my Dad telling us stories of his childhood until we all fell asleep. and waking to the bluejays chatting in the trees above our heads.
i think God connects our senses to our memories for a reason. if we weren't reminded, those memories would probably fade away.
thanks for sharing your story today. i enjoyed it.

J and J Acres said...

This story brought tears to my eyes. When I was a server, we would sometimes have older people come in by theirselves. I would watch them as they stared out the window and wonder what they were thinking about.

I think you just clued me in.

Childers Corner said...

What a lovely story! I do remember things that way, by catching a scent or tasting something. Wonderful memories.

Lynne said...

What a lovely story.
I think it's a damp smell, which I rather like. But it takes me right back to my childhood when I used to visit the farm and go into the dairy. It had a stone floor and walls. Maybe it was damp, I'm not sure.

Mildred said...

Such a beautiful story. We had two elderly sisters as neighbors when I was growing up. Whenever I smell peppermint candy, it reminds me of them. My mama always wore Emeraude by Coty dusting powder, and many times in a crowd of people, I catch a scent of that and it reminds me of her. Thanks for such a heart-warming post.

The Gingerbread House said...

Kathleen, you need to write a book,your post held me captive..
I swallowed each word like it was a worm and I was a bird....It Seems that "Barley" and
other scents or sights will take me back to my childhood in NY.. especially when I see a hot dog pushcart in a film.. :o)...

Sugarplum Cottage said...

What a precious story. Aluminum glasses the old ones that are different colors remind me of my childhood. I also have some of those metal chairs, wouldn't take anything for them. Hugs, Rosemarie

Beautiful Pear Tree Lane said...

Kathleen,
this is such a sweet post, and for you to want to reach out to Mrs Gorden at such a young and tender age tells me a lot about your character!! I am so inspired by this,
I am always reminded of certain people every day in things that I eat, see, or smell !!! Just to numerous to mention. I will mention one though, When I see a milk churn I always think of my dear grandmother who would churn milk and make the best homemade butter.
Thank you for sharing.
Blessings,
Sue

Sand Flat Farm said...

Hi, Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by to inquire about the Juicy Fruit. Sorry to say that I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but will keep everyone updated if it does work!

I think about my dear Nanny, my mom's mom, nearly every day. I stayed with her when I was little cuz Mom had to work at the bank.
I can never eat a banana (and I eat one nearly every day) that I don't remember Nanny taking a bite and closing her eyes, and smiling and saying, "If the Good Lord made anything that tasted any better than a banana, then He kept it for Himself!" I tell that to my kids sometimes...

Good post - made us all think and have some good memories!

Lanny said...

That was a wonderful and in a way a very inspiring story, to receive the intrusion well. Her character shows in your rememberance of her seeing a simple metal chair. Thank you for sharing.

KathyB. said...

Beautiful post.I agree with Lisa @ Life With Four, God attaches scents to memories to help us remember.

Many smells bring memories flooding back to me, but sounds do too. The sounds of airplanes and trains rumbling and roaring in the distance bring many memories to me, and I do not know why ( maybe I don' want to think about it ), but always a sadness....and I live near a military base,and hear planes a lot.

Small Pines said...

Oh, I do love those chairs. Love 'em. That's one for me - my grandmother had them when I was a kid. The smell of water from a garden hose takes me back to her home too. Of course there's all the Christmas smells - bayberry and such. Takes me right back. And the smell of damp mossy earth and pine takes me to my beloved Adirondack Mountains no matter where I am.

Nancy M. said...

Mine is very similar to yours. I had a neighbor across the road who was elderly and alone also. Her name was Mrs. Coone. She had those same metal chairs and a glider that we would sit in and talk. She was a great neighbor. It wasn't the same when she passed on.

Christy said...

Oh My Goodness, what a wonderful posting. I have sat here and thought of many of those moments, some are:

Jergens Hand Lotion = Gramdmother
Youth Dew = Mother
Old Spice = Daddy
Lilac bushes takes me back to being a little girl playing outside by the lilac bush.

Dirt Princess said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing...it is amazing how we see things in a different light as we get older

Lady Laurie said...

Dear Kathleen
This was a lovely story. Mrs. Gordon in her flower print dresses and earrings brings back memories of my Nana and her housedresses. Never wore pants in her life. She was born in 1893 ~
Hope you are having a simply wonderful day.

Vintage Linen Treasures said...

That was such a lovely, bitter-sweet story. It brought tears to my eyes. This was a great post, but then again, it's always a treat to visit you here.
Patricia :o)

Jane Smith said...

I enjoyed reading your story, as always. I also enjoy reading the comments. All have brought back a flood of memories.

Dad's Mom, Nanny, died when I was 8. She had the metal chairs & a glider swing, too. I also think of her when I smell Dove soap, Ivory soap, & Listerine.

The smell of spice cakes remind me of Mom's Mom, Grandma. So does the smell of cooking sausage. Grandma used to make goulash, which had sausage in it.

We had a neighbor named Amber. She had a huge weeping willow tree in her back yard. For a lot of years, even after electric washers & dryers were more common than not, she still used an electric wringer washer & hung the clothes on the line, then ironed everything.

Thank you for bringing back the memories.

DayPhoto said...

What a lovely, lovely post! Thank you so much! Growing old is for the brave, but growing old is also full of wisdom and peace.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Exactly what I was thinking...she wasn't alone; she was visiting with Christ.
Enjoyed my visit today; God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

Tipper said...

What a beautiful post! Just lovely-and so well written I felt I could see Mrs. Gorden sitting in the yard. Those metal chairs take me back to childhood too-to my Granny's house where all the family would gather for Sunday dinner after church and afterwards sit around the front porch in the metal chairs.

Sunny said...

Enjoyed your post immensely, as always. The Lord has blessed you with a special talent for reflecting. We need more of this in our lives I think, in this rat-race day and age. Thank-you for sharing...

FarmHouse Style said...

What a beautiful and touching story. But I bet she welcomed your unscheduled interuptions:-)

Everytime I make biscuits, and I swirl my hand around in the flour to make a well in the center for the milk, I think of my grandmother. I must have watched her do the same thing a hundred times.

Rhonda

Irma's Rose Cottage said...

What a lovely and touching story. I always remember my grandmother during Easter. She would help us color the eggs and she loved to eat the big colorful Easter Egg candies.

Hugs :)

Irma

Daisy said...

I enjoyed your memory, Kathleen. Very well-written. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Julie said...

Miss Kathleen,

I just loved this! What a sweet memory....thank you so much for sharing! You even were a sweet little girl -- to think of her loneliness and visit with her.
I know that she appreciated it and that you weren't a bother at all. She had most all of her days to be alone and reflect and maybe even feel sorry for her loneliness. You gave her a break from all of that.

I believe every person that God puts in our lives is for a reason (even if they're just in front of us at the check-out line)! Mrs. Gorden needed you and you, her. For what? I believe that's for you and our Lord, to know -- but just look at the memories she still provides for you - even now.
What a blessing!

Oh! To answer your question. Yes, a color, a smell, the way the sun shines through the trees or the clouds, plastic jewels, a storm ...... on any given day, at any given time will strike a memory. I never know when, or which memory they'll bring. Either sad or happy, I always feel blessed when God lets me remember something.

Many Blessings,
Julie

Princess S said...

I was back home in IA for my Grandmother's funeral which was held in the church I grew up in. As I entered that building the smell took me back to all of those Sunday's as a child, sitting in the hard pews and going to Sunday school. There were no specific memories but more of a feeling.