Many years ago, Barbara asked me to join a book club that she was starting. I’d never been in a book club before but I was pleased to be asked and soon I was reading new books each month with titles such as “Perfume”, “Maisie Dobbs”, and “The Number One Women’s Detective Agency.” In that book club I met a few new friends: Anita, Teresa, and Janet. My husband called it a wine club but we women knew differently. It was a chance for us to talk about things other than our jobs, or our families, and we relished the chance to do so.
About the same time Barbara also invited me to join the Ashland Elks. That was about eight years ago and that introduction helped to foster friendships with people such as Polly, Pat, Berniece and Rhonda. All of these people are amazingly selfless individuals that do so much for the community (especially our veterans) and I am very honored to be a part of this fraternal organization.
Today I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie for Barbara. When I showed up at her office, her assistant wanted to take the pie to her but I asked to deliver it myself. I wanted to personally recognize Barbara for inviting me into the Elks and for including me in her book club. I really do appreciate the gestures of friendship that she extended and want to offer my sincerest thanks to her for reaching out to me. I am truly richer for these experiences.
Last weekend I attended a birthday dinner at the Ashland Elks Lodge. Yes, I am an Elk. I’ll bet that not many of you knew that. As it turns out, I knew little about the Elk’s organization before I joined. I am always learning new things – such as -another possible meaning of the initials BPOE (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks). It is the “best people on earth” referring to all of the philanthropic work that the Elks perform.
While we were eating dinner last Friday, Mary, one of my fellow Elks, sat with us and we chatted for a while. At one point I mentioned my “pie project” to her and explained what I have been doing for the past seven and a half months. Mary then told us how she won the recent Pie Contest at the lodge with her rendition of “Banoffee Pie” which we were told is quite famous in England.
All in all it was a lovely evening… and as we left, I asked Mary to let me know if she had a “pie recipient” for me. And today, Mary recommended Niki. Here is an excerpt of the email that Mary sent:
Niki is the front office person who does just about everything. This morning she was running late, had to get her kids off to school and when she got here the cleaning crew had done such a poor job that she went home and got her own vacuum cleaner to do it right.
Wow. I can’t think of many people who would do such a thing. Dear Niki, thank you, for caring so much about your workplace. That is such a wonderful gift that you bring to Mary and all of the others that you work with.
As I was thinking about my pie of the day this morning, I thought of Berniece. I first met her a few years ago and I was immediately impressed by her spunk and determination. Berniece is a fireball and I really am in awe of her. She has more energy than people half her age and she always seems to have something positive to say when we meet. That is a gift in itself.
A few years ago, I was working with Berniece on the committee for the 100th Anniversary of the Elk’s building in Ashland. The volunteers met several times a month for nearly a year to help make this event a success. Berniece was instrumental in helping us succeed. She and I put together several gift baskets for a raffle to raise funds for the anniversary celebration. Berniece put a lot of effort into creating lovely prizes for those raffles and we raised a tidy sum of money for the Elk’s centennial fund.
What I (factually) know about Berniece is minimal compared to what I feel that I know about her. Berniece is all heart… and that is apparent from the moment you meet her. She is tenacious when she needs to be and is fearless as well. We can all learn a lot about living by spending a few hours with Berniece.
This afternoon I brought a Mediterranean Quiche to Berniece at work. Unfortunately she was not in to receive the pie, but the young man who was working for her told me that he would call her right away to tell her that a pie was waiting for her.
What I would have said to Berniece if I had seen her is : Thank you for being such a great role model of living life to the fullest. I am honored to know you and I promise to do my best to follow your lead. With much admiration,