Friday, April 28, 2017

My Den Mother

Olive was my best friend’s mother and my Cub Scout Den Mother.  What a wonderful name. Olives are health producing anti-oxidants which are anti-inflammatory, stress reducing and healing fruits that have existed since biblical times. In fact, olive oil was poured on wounds for healing and was used for anointing of the sick to represent healing and the power of the Holy Spirit for life and eternal life.  Olive's long flowing brown hair seemed to fit her warm personality. She was aptly named.

Owen, her son, and I went to school together from 4 year old kindergarten on through high school. We would do many things together after school and on vacations. Later we would hunt and fish together even with my two sons. I have written previously of our trip to Alaska after High School when we faced death and innumerable adventures.  But back to Olive.

She was the Den Mother for Den 10, Coub Scout Pack 398. She took it seriously; especially teaching crafts and providing home baked goodies every week. I can still taste her 16 layer Linder cakes. She loved being with us boys, even though we were not always so thankful to her. Perhaps most I remember her peacefulness, gentleness, kindness and faithfulness. Doesn’t that remind you of many of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit? 

Olive’s husband was a Southern gentleman doctor who worked long hours, so Olive spent lots of time with us. She took us on field trips to her native Sheboygan County farms and family. We would always stop at a cheese factory for fresh cheese curds and maple candy. I will have to add that I was not slim in those days and I found my clothes in the “Husky” section of the store. After picking up goodies we often headed for Lake Michigan, to the nearly vacant and beautiful beaches of Terry Andre Park. Then I didn’t care if the water was still in the 50s. I always noticed, however, that Olive had a cigarette in her mouth.

On summer vacation Olive’s family took me up north to Kettle Hole Lodge, an old style fishing resort on a beautiful lake. Our little cabin was perfect for our wet and sandy, muddy and fishy fun. We caught crappies and bass by the dozens. Olive often cleaned and always fried up the fish to perfection along with cornbread and donuts from the bakery in town.

Olive provided friendship, food, companionship and caring always. I never heard her raise her voice, although she should have at times.

Years of college, marriage and family responsibilities separated us.  Owen and I continued to see each other for hunting or fishing.  Then one day I heard that Olive was sick. In fact, she had cancer and was in hospital hospice unit.  There were few hospices in 1985.

I visited her. She was lying with her covers pulled up to her chin. Her long flowing, now silver hair lay on the bedspread. Her sad eyes looked up at me and she said, “I knew you would come.” It was as if she had been waiting for me to be there. Perhaps it was one of her last tasks in this life, saying goodbye to me and I to her. After much reminiscing, we kissed and I left. The news of her passing came quickly bringing sadness and a certain joy of remembrance to my soul. She was a beautiful and godly woman. It seemed that the Proverbs chapter on a woman of noble character fits Olive. Sleep softly and sweetly dear child of God until we meet again.  

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