Not long ago I received an invitation to a going away party. The invitation came from my friend Karen and stated that she was hosting a party for her daughter, Mariah, and son-in-law, Collin, who were leaving to take a position with the Peace Corps. In fact, in a few weeks, Mariah and Collin will be leaving for Zambia! It’s been a few years since I have seen Mariah, but back when my kids were small, she used to babysit for me when I had a meeting to attend or an errand to run. Mariah was more like a big sister to the kids and since she has beautiful red hair, just like my daughter, she would often be asked if they were sisters. (And Mariah knows that when she is in Zambia that red hair will surely create a stir!) Curious as to what the next two years will be like for Mariah and Collin, I did a little research and found a few articles that offered some insight. This one listed five reasons NOT to join the Peace Corps, one of which is “to build my resume.” Clearly this is not a good reason (there are easier ways to do that) and using this as a mantra won’t get you through the tough times. Then I found this YouTube video by Carrie Pavlik (who was in the Peace Corps 2007-2009) that shows the beauty of Zambia but also demonstrates just how much work is involved in doing the everyday things that we in America take for granted (getting water, cooking, taking a shower, etc). Mariah and Collin are excited that they are going to put their skills (both of them are fisheries experts) to work to help people in a country that is thousands of miles away. Yesterday was the bon voyage party for Mariah and Collin, and even though I knew I would be late in arriving if I baked a pie before going, I just had to do it. I wanted to say with that pie that I am so proud to know them, that I admire what they are doing, and to wish them all the best on their grand adventure! If you are interested in learning more about their journey, you can follow them on their blog: www.MariahandCollin.wordpress.com “The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.” Sargent Shriver “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” Tom Brokaw
Karen is such a great lady that God made two of her! What I mean to say is that Karen has an identical twin, but I like the first sentence better! Karen and I met a long time ago because our children went to the same schools. Karen’s children are a little bit older than mine and since I was new to Ashland, she was a great support for me. I’ll bet that if you asked anyone that knows Karen what she is like, they would tell you that she is friendly, cheerful, thoughtful, and most certainly, a woman you can count on.
By trade Karen is a phlebotomist. She told me that one day she told that to a young boy and he asked what that meant. Then she told him that she drew blood everyday. The young boy thought about this for a moment and said, “You must use a lot of red crayons!”
When my son Coco was in kindergarten, he jumped off a play structure at school and bit his tongue. I was at work and did not find out about it until about an hour or two later. When I asked him to show me his tongue, he just shook his head no. When I took him to Helman Elementary to pick up his sister, I saw Karen. I told Coco that Karen worked in medicine and asked him to show her his tongue. Immediately he opened his mouth and we both saw the huge gash. Karen urged me to go to see Jack the Pharmacist at Ashland Drug right away. Everything eventually worked out fine… Coco took antibiotics for a week, his tongue healed, etc. But what amazes me still is that he was willing to show her his wound, but not me!
Another memory I have of Karen demonstrates her insistence for doing the right thing. It seems that one of her boys (I forget which… and really, it doesn’t matter) and his friends decided to participate in some mischief (involving eggs and toilet paper). A local policeman found them and called Karen to come and pick up her boy. When she arrived she spoke to her son and then apologized to the police man for the incident and asked when her son could clean things up. The officer was stunned. He said usually parents yelled at him for “picking on” their kids; few of them ever took responsibility for their actions. When my own son got into trouble, I had a good role model to follow with Karen.
These are just a few of the stories I have to share about Karen. Oh… and in addition to all that, she raises lambs! What a wonderful lady… and to top it off, her husband Bob is a pretty great guy in his own right.
Tonight I brought an Apple Blackberry Pie to Karen and Bob. I want to recognize them both for all that they have done in our community and to let them know that we feel so lucky to count them as friends.
If you must follow someone, choose a person with vision, wisdom, love and integrity. -Philip Arnold
Yesterday I got an email from my friend Karen telling me that she was going to have a yard sale on Saturday. If you know anything about me, you know that I love yard sales. I don’t know when this habit began, but I love to find something at a yard (or estate) sale and breathe new life into it by using it myself or by giving it to a friend. I think reusing things is an honorable trait and by doing so we help to conserve resources and also reduce what we send to the landfill.
A few years ago I met Karen at one of her yard sales. She had a dress for sale that another woman got to before I had a chance. As the woman considered the dress I watched and hoped and waited. Luckily, the woman decided that the dress was not becoming to her and she set it down and I was able to take it home. It is one of my favorite dresses and I felt so fortunate to find it.
I’ve gone to a few of Karen’s sales over the years and in the course of that time we have become friends. When I heard that she was having this latest sale I begged to be let in early with a bribe of scones. Karen then welcomed me to view her sale a day early. And since I know that she is very busy – and preparing to move to Portland – I asked if I could bring her a quiche. It is a simple gesture to thank her for passing on many of her treasures to me. I offer my sincerest thanks and I wish her the very best in this move and always.