Dear Readers ~
A gorgeous day is not going to pass without me scurrying outside to sit on the deck under one of the umbrellas so that I can write to you. Spring is definitely in the air with Forsythia, daffodils, eastern redbud, Chinese magnolia and flowering cherry trees in bloom. The FIJIs next door have not let this day go to waste either as they participate in alfresco entertaining. Chirping birds are fluttering around with anticipation of new chicks to raise. Buds pulsating to withdraw from dormancy are eager to burst forth and meet the season even if it is just to fill-in the gaps of empty spaces leafless limbs expose. And, the very gentle breeze ... awe ... the gentle breeze ... perfect for carrying aromas of newness and inspiring memories of growing up in the south when every moment possible was spent in the inviting outdoors. Biting bugs have yet to go exploring so the environment is perfect to write to you. My five senses are in full alert yet completely satisfied.
Though spring is in the air in the southeast, the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea have just concluded with our country bringing home 23 medals: 9 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze. I enjoyed watching all the disciplined athletes and was thankful to have them represent us as ambassadors of good will.
I have mentioned in the past that we have an incredible staff in the sorority house. Each member of the team is so valuable to the successful day-to-day operations. Our cleaning crew, Elisabet and Rose, have shared numerous times with me how happy they are to have their positions. Elisabet is from Mexico, is married and has three adorable young children. Rose is from Kenya, was widowed at 24, and has three grown children. Both are working in the United States to provide a better life for their families. Rose sends money home to her ailing mother and two sisters. There is little opportunity for employment in Kenya where she was a labor and delivery nurse before someone bought her position, forcing her eventually to look outside her native country for work to feed her family.
Rose is filled with life and stories ... many wonderful and many tragic. For example, walking to mass one Sunday on a dusty road near her native home, something made her look down on the adjacent river where she saw a bag that she was compelled to open. It was a newly-born baby girl still alive with the umbilical cord attached. I told her the something that made her look was God. She felt the nudge and obeyed. Rose wrapped the helpless infant in her scarf and carried the bundle of innocence to the nuns where she worshiped. That girl today has no idea how she was discovered but is being cared for in an orphanage where she is safe, fed and getting an education. Apparently, it is common for babies to be found like that in Rose’s area because mothers cannot take care of them. Very sad.
But Rose is a happy person and has extended numerous invitations to me for dinner in her new home in Athens. All the AXOs love and appreciate our staff but two in particular have befriended Rose - with one having completed a mission trip to Kenya last summer. I was finally able to accept an invitation and Rose agreed that the three of us should visit her for this special African dinner she wanted to prepare. She gave me a grocery list and told me not to worry about the chicken because her uncle was going to get a live one for us from a farm. I responded, “That chicken had better be dead, plucked and cooked by the time we get there!”
February was filled with fun times. I had one of my Susan’s Socials for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. The FIJIs joined us for our annual Mardi Gras dinner. Valentine’s Day dinner was yummy salmon. Basketball games are two blocks away ~ the women’s team is doing well. The Chinese New Year celebration is always enjoyed with chopsticks and decorations. Lent is underway and, frankly, I am struggling at times to maintain promises I made to myself (and God) but I am going to stick with it remembering as a youngster being told, “Eat your vegetables. There are starving children in Africa!” That statement is clearer to me now more than ever.
When I first started reading one of my Lent devotional books, “Preparing for Easter” by C. S. Lewis, I found that he wrote to fellow intellects. Fellow scholars. I am using the dictionary on my cell phone and am thankful that as a group of house directors, we have the opportunity to discuss our interpretations! Lewis had quite a grasp of the English language shaking my comfort level a wee bit ~ but I love it!
As Lent continues, I am blessed to have witnessed the disciplined athletes of the Winter Olympics and the servitude in a woman who honors her role as daughter, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and friend. Two traits I hope to improve upon: discipline and servitude. I am grateful that Rose’s chicken didn’t move on my plate. Her meal was delicious and her servitude humbling ... being a woman of faith with a strong back. In Africa, she normally would have cooked our meal bending from her waist over an outdoor fire ~ so she is continuing to learn advantages of cooking stove top.
It is spring, dear readers, as the month of March brings the Oscars, spring break, a semiformal and St. Patrick’s Day. Opportunities to dress up, visit the mountains and eat corned beef and cabbage. The season will also bring more opportunities to converse in Spanish and Swahili ... just little snippets mind you, but nonetheless! And, of course, The Masters is just around the corner ~ Amen!
Susan E. Kendrick is a Sunday Stories columnist who shares her insights and Southern humor each month in Sincerely, Susan. To correspond with Susan, email her at [email protected] To share your events for our Out & About calendar, email us at [email protected]