Pick your mentors carefully, ladies.
Watch them closely.
Spend time with them consistently.And God will bless you richly.
Those words ran through my mind for the last week knowing I would want to find the words to explain to others what I learned from knowing Ardyce Schmidt for almost 40 years.
And the words are surprisingly lacking beyond those few. The bible has the rest. That's about the sum of what she taught me. But when you think about it there's nothing more to be taught that's really important. Ardyce Schmidt, possibly underestimated except by those who knew her, was a walking bible, not in teaching but in living it.
And the world today is a very empty place.
I am no dummy. And my pride in my own intelligence boils down to watching one humble woman and trying my best to duplicate her humility. I am, of course, a failure at this.
But I have admired her humility and I tried. We all did. And we all failed.
My only regret is that I don't have more photos of the women in my life who were important and more words available. Since words are inadequate today let me show you some photos of a few of these women.
This one was a moment my camera insisted on taking black and white and wouldn't budge. and I think the camera knew what it was doing that day. Women like Ardyce and Royanne have few photos of them and when you think more on that it's not really surprising. They're not spotlight seeking women.
This picture was the morning I sat by Bette and decided to just let the silence be our companion.
Somewhere I have a photo of Phyllis hiking up Gilmont mountain with me on one side and somebody else on the other. We knew she would need help since she's legally blind from macular degeneration. What we didn't count on was her stamina far surpassing ours. By the time we got to the top she was basically dragging us along, chirping happily about how important it is to stay in shape at her age.
This was a year after I called her asking for an explanation of a comment she had made to me in passing that I wanted desperately to follow up on. A comment so matter of fact it almost passed through the sieve of the conversation: "I've cried all my tears." In the phone call, she explained her many tribulations in a stoic way that waved off sympathy, allowing only that time had passed and you move on.
And my favorite photo of Joy. Soft, gentle, fragrant Joy.
There are other women and other scenes without photos. We don't take a lot of photos in the church kitchen.
Choose your mentors wisely, ladies. I have. God has given me the best. One of the greatest gifts God gave me, a woman whose own mother left too soon, was mentors to point the way. Bewildered, I watched them for clues and they taught me. They have been my textbook. My backbone. My whisper behind the curtain when I didn't know my lines. The descant singing on that last verse.
Thank you, Ardyce. Thank you, God.