Monday, February 13, 2012

Mrs. Liz and Mr. Jim

On Saturday's trip to Costco, I encountered a time warp of the best kind. ... bump. bump. My cart tapped another, pushed by––can it be Mrs. Liz?!!! Wow, she has the same beautiful beehive hairdo, except it's now a crisp white instead of blond. Her face, as unlined as ever, stretches into a familiar warm smile. She asked about our kids, and remembered the details of what they were doing years ago, when we last ran into each other.

"What are you doing now?" she asked me, I told her I was finishing studies.

"Wow! I'm nobody. I bake cookies!" she exclaimed. My oh my. This influencer and neighbourhood fairy godmother is hardly a nobody!

Mrs. Liz was the loving cookie mother-lode of our street (our 31 year old son was in Grade 1 about 1987). Jeremy and Kirsten came in the house one day with big homemade cookies in hand. "Where did you get those?" said their sugar-rationing mommy, a bit enviously.

"A lady named Liz in the other house," Jeremy said. He pointed vaguely to the neighbourhood.

"That would be Mrs. Liz to you!" I firmly countered. We walked down the street to meet Mrs. Liz.

"Oh dear, I hope I haven't done something wrong, said the stunning 35-something, tall blond who opened the door. "I love to bake and thought your kids might like a treat."

No problem. We got to know Mrs. Liz well in the few years we lived in our little college house by the freeway. Our children visited her nearly every day. She was kind, friendly, and always immaculately dressed. Her husband Mr. Jim was extremely shy and moved out of sight when someone knocked on the door. Mrs. Liz always answered with a smile and friendly word––and best of all for kids, she always had cookies or treats. "Here you go, Love," she'd say, handing over a homemade goodie.

While I sighed over the sugar, I trusted Mrs. Liz completely. She baked, volunteered all over Kirkland, and became the heart of our street. Mr. Jim stayed behind the scenes, maintaining a manicured lawn, working in his shop, keeping up the yard for a paralyzed neighbor, and trimming the hedge for the widow a few houses down.

She became "Mrs. Liz" to everybody "because of what your kids called me," she told me a few years ago, and she remains that to today's kids. I goggled her last name once and forgot it immediately. She'll always be Mrs. Liz to us.

On Saturday, I invited her to lunch with our kids and us on Sunday. She refused, smiling off any offense: "Oh, Jim would never come. I have to stay home and fix him lunch. He's still busy and happy. Today, he clipped Mrs. Smith's cedars. This afternoon he's pruning an apple tree for Paul. You know Paul, don't you?"

Yes, I know Paul and the others she mentions from our old neighbourhood, but I didn't know Jim was the reason Paul's yard is kept neat and fresh. (Paul can't do yardwork; an accident left him unable to walk.)

I felt utterly refreshed as I wheeled away. Mrs. Liz and Mr. Jim are heroes from a gentler era. They look out for others, expecting no recognition or applause. They've lived near the university for nearly 40 years. Mrs. Liz still has a kind word and home baking for their neighbors and the little kids from the college housing that popped up a stone's throw from their house. Good news of a "pot of gold" or a jar of cookies spreads fast! Over the years, Mr. Jim has helped students repair their cars and showed up––tools in hand––to do minor repairs up and down their street. He would be appalled if someone noticed.

There's always a place for good manners and neighbourly care. Between all of us, we can be inspired by the model of Mrs. Liz and Mr. Jim. They're ordinary people doing good day after day, year in and out, with consistently kind words, the right tools, or a fresh cookie or two. Whom can you bless today?

Read more:
*Genesis 41:17-57; Psalm 22:29-31; Matthew 14:15-24

*We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God. Joshua 24:18

*A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1

*Christ says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
*It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2

Moravian Prayer: Father God, thank you for the earthly lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ! As we study his life's journey, may his words abide within us as we gather fruits worthy to be harvested in his kingdom! We worship the beauty of your holiness. May our love and service to you be honorable as we spend time in your presence. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post, Rosemarie. We need more people who selflessly give of themselves for others.