I stumbled upon a book today on our bookshelf with worn edges and a slight rip through the book jacket. The copyright says 1973. The title reads The Richest Lady in Town.
It was a book given to my Nana — my Dad’s mother — an angelic vision that rests in my heart’s memory with bouffant silver hair and piercing blue eyes and a contagious laugh.
Inside the front cover is a handwritten note from the author, scribbled in the pretty cursive writing so ubiquitous in my grandparents’ generation.
To my dear millionaire friend, Carolyn. See page 142. Lovingly, Joyce
My Nana was not a millionaire in the way most people know the term, but she was full of treasures. And as the book title implies, her God-given gifts, talents and virtues are what make a person truly rich, says Joyce.
I flipped to page 140, 141.. there it is, 142. I began reading.
Colleen Evans wrote unknowingly of my friend, Carolyn, when she described the “utterly sincere” as “the woman who gives every conscious area of her life to God… There is no inner tension in this woman, for she seeks to hide nothing from God or man.”
Carolyn lives her life as the wife of a military man in that kind of honesty, and consequently, she reveals no inner tensions. In fact, one of her loveliest traits is a well-developed, marvelous sense of humor. She is such a comedian she makes me smile, giggle and down-right howl, yet I have wept with her in prayerful moments. Having a sense of humor really boils down to this fact; you don’t take yourself dead seriously…
Carolyn is also one of the few women I know who acts her age without sobbing about it. She doesn’t try to be some young chick but has accepted her age. That may not sound like any big deal to you, but, from all the conversations I’ve heard at women’s meetings, age is the one thing very few women have on their “most wanted” list. Carolyn, with a married daughter and teen-age son, has adopted the attitude that she is exactly the age God wants her to be — not a moment older and not a moment younger. Growing older is never a threat to the woman who is securely loved by Christ.
When I did the last two military tours for the Chaplain’s Division in the Far East, I needed the rich gifts that Carolyn so lovingly gave to me in Okinawa. One was the gift of laughter… The other was that honesty that freed her from inner tensions. She refreshed my weary spirit in a hundred ways with these two gifts, and, even though I’m home now, the gifts still creep into my memory at odd times, and I smile because I’m blessed and warmed all over again!
I smiled when I read this passage, because this is exactly how I remember my grandmother — authentic, real, and quite frankly, hilarious. Her treasures of love and laughter have been a gift to my entire family and the memory of my time spent with her is the greatest inheritance she could’ve given me.
Joyce’s sentiment also reminded me of a C.S. Lewis quote that I read the other day: “Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of friends, ‘Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.’ The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
And isn’t it true? In thinking of my own dear friends, I see clearly that the gift of their friendship is not by chance; rather, it is a gift from a God who brings us together for a greater purpose. And through their own unique treasures — their humor, intelligence, talents — I learn more about God’s love.
I’ve re-read the last sentence of Joyce’s passage about my Nana several times now. It is, I think, an example of what all great friends of every age in every time do best of all:
“She refreshed my weary spirit in a hundred ways with her gifts, and, even though I’m home now, the gifts still creep into my memory, and I smile because I’m blessed and warmed all over again!”