Well, we’re moving right along with our plans for my Mom’s retirement party on the 14th of April. I am now praying that we don’t have snow, since winter never seems to end (side note, though, I watched eight Robins in the front yard of my sister’s house today)! I have so much to do that I don’t want to have to worry about whether I’ll fall and break my hip on top of everything else!
People have been sending me nice notes all week about how much they love the invitations for my Mom’s retirement party. I designed them especially for my Mom — something she would appreciate. It was designed around the entire theme — flowers — for my Mom’s favorite past-time, growing gardens. My Mom’s friend Corky said “Loved the invitations. The only surprise for us was the Bingo Diva. Who knew??!!!” And, today I opened my mail from last week and had received a handwritten note from a very close friend of my Mom’s, Marcia Campbell.
Let me tell you a little bit about Marcia. My Dad worked with her husband, Bo at Babcock & Wilcox. They were very good friends since I can remember. From the time I was a little kid until probably about age 16, my Mom, Dad, Marcia and Bo went ballroom dancing at the ballroom at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio until it burned down in 1984. Well, the ballroom didn’t burn down until 2001, but the devastating loss at the amusement park from the fire in 1984 closed the doors to the Saturday evening dancing.
But they did other things together too. Marcia and Bo worked on the Floral Committee with my Mom and Dad at the Hookstown Fair, among myself, my sister and two brothers, and my Mom’s other good friend, Patty Martin. Mom and Marcia were perfect at this job, because they both had beautiful flower gardens and both were experts at growing roses, although neither would ever admit that. It was the same every year — Marcia “ooed and awed” at the beautiful flower entries that came in to be showed at the fair. Dad and Bo never really did any work, they just sat in chairs and made us all laugh the entire day. When the two of them would get going, it was priceless.
They watched us grow up from babies to children to teenagers and adults. Marcia was an elementary schoolteacher by trade, and she always encouraged me to pursue an art career as she loved to see my drawings. She even gave me books that I could as reference to draw things from. And as I graduated from Art School, became a graphic designer, worked for a corporation, then moved to an advertising agency — and then started my own advertising agency — she’s followed me every step of the way. Both her and Bo were proud of me — and that meant as much to me as my own Mom and Dad being proud of me. Last year when I was awarded the Pittsburgh Business Times’ Diamond Award and had a full-page article in the paper, she showed it proudly to everyone. She even gave my dentist a copy of it, who pulled it out to show me when I went in for dental work! It touched my heart how much she really cared about me and how she openly expressed that.
Both Bo and Marcia were devastated when my Dad passed suddenly on May 23, 2002 as was everyone else. But, I’ll never forget the look on Bo’s face on the day my Dad was buried. I remember it distinctly. We had just finished the mass at St. Rose in Darlington, PA, and the family led the procession out of the church, pew by pew, much like a wedding exits the church from the front to the back. We were singing “On Eagle’s Wings” and I knew all the words, belting it out through my tears, because I knew my Dad’s soul was soaring to Heaven! He was with Jesus now, and God, the Father. He was in paradise. It was a moment of rejoicing! But as we walked down the aisle, I remember seeing Bo’s face, wrought with despair and tears. He took the loss very hard. And I had never seen him quite like before.
My Mom and Marcia are both widows now. I believe Marcia is in her late 80’s, maybe even close to 90 years old. She’s in incredibly good health, but has some trouble getting around these days. Her daughter, Nancy stops in to her home every day, as she lives alone. We know Nancy well too.
So, the note from Marcia — it touched my heart so deeply that I wanted to share it in it’s entirety:
Thank you for the invitation to the big party, and if anybody should be recognized and honored for their years of perseverance and complete devotion to their job — it is Ms. Carol. Nancy and I will be delighted to attend. As Nancy was leaving today, she brought my mail in to me. She said, “Here’s a letter from Pam, hurry up and open it before I go.” When she read it all, she said, “Where does Pam get such clever and unique ideas?” My answer — “Because she’s a genius and demand for her work is country-wide. If she had more hours in a week to do her work, it would be world-wide.”
I’ll have to watch myself and keep it secret from Carol.
First I laughed out loud at her term “country-wide” instead of national, but then my eyes welled up in tears. So simply put, she believes in me so much. I’m not sure I ever received a more wonderful and sincere compliment in my entire career. It’s truly one of those moments — one that will be tucked in my heart for the rest of my life. It’s just amazing how one soul can touch another with just a few simple words — unexpected in an RSVP note.
Marcia continues to be a teacher. And while I never had her as a teacher, I imagine she inspired many of her students. She continues to teach me how I want to be on this earth while I am here. Her goodness glows all around her.