I don’t know how the friendship started. I was young, sitting in church, very aware that if I started goofing off, I would get that dreaded pinch or swat from my parents. And oh, I would hear about it at home, and my family was well-known—two rows from the back of the church. All the other regulars around me would get to witness my downfall and give me that “knowing” look next week, so it was just better off for everyone involved if I would just sit quietly.
I think he spoke up first. He said hi. Being (or trying very hard anyway to be) a polite young girl, I said hi back. But then resumed my sitting with my hands folded in my lap, looking forward to the two peppermints stored in my purse for later on in the service.
But I didn’t need the peppermints. When the sermon was ready to start, he offered me one—a “King” brand. I accepted, smiled, and savoured every moment of it.
Maybe that’s how it started. Saying hi, eating his peppermints, and eventually making small talk.
I learned that George was a baker, loved making jokes, and loved it when I had a few up my sleeve too. He and his wife had grandkids a bit younger than me, and he rode motorbike and went to his cabin a lot. My Dad started giving me an extra peppermint or two to offer him and his wife during the evening service. Oh, how mature I felt when I could repay the gift of peppermints to keep us all going during those long sermons!
On my birthday—I think it was my 9th—I came home from a girls club to find a beautifully decorated cake he had delivered. The next birthday was the same. On another birthday I learned a new hobby of his—welding. He had fashioned my name into a metal plate, which I hung in my room. My friends didn’t get why I would put something metal and jagged, not pink or having to do with NKOTB up in my room. He was my friend. It was a treasure.
When I got a Disney charm bracelet for Christmas, I showed him. When he went to Expo, he bought me a silver charm for my bracelet. When his granddaughter came to visit, we sat together and were best friends by association of him. When she was gone, I asked about her and he told me stories. When I got a new purse, he took interest in my new accessory. When he got a new suit, I noticed and commented on it to him. He was my friend. HE was a treasure.
Eventually I got involved in every possible ministry a teacher-to-be might join, and eventually he stopped going to church. I remained friends with his wife, and still send her Christmas cards and still look for her—and ask about him—if I am ever back at that church.
When my son was three, he met a lady named Karen at church…and still visits with her today.