Friday, June 28, 2013
I was six years old when I met Rosemary. I don't remember the exact date or even what season it was, but I think it was summer. She and her husband, Harlis, had moved into the house diagonally across the street from ours and I had been told they had two little girls. That was exciting to me because I had two older brothers and most of the kids in the neighborhood were not only older than I, but were also boys. Even the two best friends I had had were boys, and only one of them still lived here. It was one of those boys, Jimmy, who facilitated my introduction to Rosemary that day. We usually met each other outside in the morning and on that particular one he greeted me with the information that we were going to have to go to the new neighbor's home to ask if their daughters would like to play with us. I was a little nervous about this because I tended to be fearful of meeting people, but there was no talking him out of it because those were his orders for the day. So, off we went, walking across the yard to the house and we knocked on the door. A beautiful lady answered and with a sweet southern accent she said "Well, good morning." We asked if her daughters, whose names were Dana and Diana, would like to come out and play and with that began a friendship of 45 years that changed the course of my life and that of my family. When she opened her door to us that day, we walked into a home that literally enveloped me in love. Throughout the years that home was a haven for myself, my parents, and my brother in various ways at different times. What my family saw in that home was a love for and a relationship with Jesus like none we had ever seen before and because of Rosemary we found that relationship ourselves. While Dana and Diana were riding bikes and playing kickball, Rosemary and Harlis were becoming my parents dearest friends. I could usually find my mother sitting at Rosemary's kitchen table as they shared coffee and stories, laughter and a few tears. Dad and Harlis could often be found talking boats and fishing. I know they cherished those friendships. Life, as it always does, brought many challenges that sometimes caused distances in our friendships, but the love that was at the heart of them always remained. There are some memories that are so clear in my mind that I can close my eyes and see it all again. I can still smell and almost taste the chocolate chip cookies Rosemary made. I can see her snapping green beans to the "whish-whish" sound of the gauge on the pressure cooker as it sat on the stove. I can hear her saying goodnight prayers with Dana and I as we were tucked into bed at night after going to Bible school. I can see her hugging the many children she cared for, including my own. I remember her beautiful handwriting on the countless greeting cards she gave me and I can hear her strong voice singing the old gospel songs. In this day, when few people even know their neighbors, I was blessed to have Rosemary as a friend; someone who still greeted me with open arms the same way she did when I was six years old. Recently we saw each other at a fast food restaurant. We sat down and talked for just a few precious minutes. We talked about our children and grandchildren and her great grandchildren. We talked about my job loss and she asked about my mother and she shared stories of the vacation from which they had just returned. We said goodbye that day, stating as we always did that we needed to get together and visit. When I was told on Tuesday that Rosemary had gone home to heaven, I felt like she had taken a part of my heart with her. She has left a void that cannot be filled. There is a song that says "I have more to go to Heaven for than I had yesterday" and that is certainly true for me today. I know she is there, along with many other loved ones who have gone on before, and she is preparing her new house. Someday, when I get there and I am going to go knock on her door........ and I know just how she is going to answer.