By L.A. Kohl
September 26, 2005
(published in the Wed., Oct. 5th 2005 edition of the Bullseye)
My husband just returned from McComb, MS; serving on a Missouri Baptist disaster relief team, running a chainsaw for a week. He told a story of a woman named Gladys that warmed my heart, and I hope it will do the same for you.
The morning that his team was assigned to go to Gladys’s home, the man handing out assignments warned them, “Now, if you all don’t get there pretty quick, she’s going to have the job taken care of herself!”
Upon arriving at Gladys’s home, they found a sweet little widow that was 82 years old, and walked with a cane. She had a large lot, still covered with many limbs and branches four weeks after Katrina. But not as covered as it had been!
She had found a little table top somewhere, and each morning, with her cane in one hand and her table top in the other, she would walk around her yard and pile little sticks and branches on the tabletop, then drag it to the curb and dump it for the city workers to come haul away. When the chainsaw team showed up at her door, she was overjoyed. You see, she was having trouble mowing her large lot because of all the debris that was in her way.
“You mow your own yard?” one of the men asked incredulously.
Yes she did – with a push mower, no less.
As she quickly learned each man’s name, the team began clearing her yard; but it was about all they could do to keep her on the porch. She would have preferred working right along with them. At one point she told them that she had retired back in 1984.
“What did you do before that?” my husband asked.
“I covered seats,” she replied with a sly grin.
“And where did you work?” another one asked.
“At the Sears and Roebuck”, she began. All the men were picturing little Gladys working in a factory, putting upholstery on seat cushions, until she elaborated. “I worked in the lingerie department – I covered lots of lady’s ‘seats’ during the 32 years I worked there!”
She continued telling them more stories from days long ago – days when she would walk three miles to go to school. She had been on the basketball and track teams, she explained. She still remembered the man at the shoe store who would stand outside and wait for the girl’s basketball team to walk by, so he could throw snowballs at them.
“But surely you don’t get much snow down here, do you Gladys?” my husband couldn’t help asking.
“Oh, we get our fair share,” she replied, “And every time it gets below freezing I have to crawl under my house and drain the pipes so they don’t freeze up.”
“You do that yourself?” someone asked, but not quite so incredulously this time!
“Oh sure,” she replied in her charming Southern drawl. “You see, one time when I didn’t, all my pipes froze up and my son-in-law had to come replace them, and ooo wee – I don’t dare let that happen again or he’ll give me ‘what for’!”
You just can’t help but admire the spunk and determination of a person like Gladys. She blessed the men working there that day just as much, if not more, than they blessed her. My husband is now looking forward to a day in eternity when he can sit and visit with Gladys on the front porch of her mansion in heaven, and chat “for a long spell”.