25 April 2007

Speaking of Mrs. Hagler

Yesterday we celebrated Libby Choate on the occasion of her early entry into the perfection of our faithful King. I would like to say more about all this later, but suffice it to say now that we remembered her wit and melancholy with glad tears, and we honored her affection for music with some fine tunes indeed: the Nicholls women started with "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and Lin Norman closed with a capella "Amazing Grace" featuring beautiful gospel rolls and rhythms. April commented afterwards, "If anyone doubted Lin could sing before. . . ." Indeed.

Though I have hardly played at all over the past year, I broke out the violin for "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," which Libby requested long ago. With Myles on voice and guitar, it seems we did reasonably enough, and I am grateful for the grace that made it so. But apparently there was some dissension from the pews. Specifically, the pew hosting Mrs. Joy Hagler.

Libby was a faithful participant in the church's widow ministry, which enjoyed a particularly high swing when I was in college. During that time, Libby and I, along with Mandy Yeager and April Callaway (as they were then known), cleaned Mrs. Hagler's home bimonthly under the able leadership of Jenny Weimer (also as she was then known).

We all had our stations, and Mrs. Joy informed us when we failed to clean them well. The learning curve was steep, and she swatted at you with her cane if she wanted you to attend better to your duties. The shag carpet was always my favorite: vacuum, then take the "carpet rake" out to lift the flattened lines. But she was generous, and we learned lots there . . . about cleaning and about ministry too. I highly recommend regularly cleaning a widow's house for rigorous spiritual formation.

But if you have asthma, be careful what widow you choose. Mrs. Joy is now 86 and she has smoked vigorously since well before her 20th birthday, so the woman has a terrifically scratchy voice. A lover of art and exotic things, she has interesting nicknacks all over her house, and a wonderful record collection too. She has a certain beauty about her too: Mrs. Joy liked to take out her photo albums and remind us that she won a contest (in Las Vegas, I think) with her long, shapely legs when she was young.

So here's the picture you need: a 60-year cigarette expert, long white hair in a ponytail, bright and beautiful big eyes, spunky mind and smile. She doesn't go many places, but she came to Libby's memorial service yesterday, and that should tell you something . . . about Libby and Mrs. Joy.

But get on with it, you beg. The point is that after the service, she commented on my part: "You sure have gone a long way since I heard you last," she began, and I said "Yes, ma'am?" still unsure about whether she meant this as a compliment or complaint. "But you still sounded good," she finished, with down-turned eyes that meant to convey a little shame.

So I chuckled a bit and repeated, "Well, yes ma'am." Oh my, got to love Mrs. Joy. She does tell it like it is.


Denny Burk said...

It's the day after the funeral, and I'm sad to say that your blog is the first word I've gotten that Libby passed away. I wish I could have been there. I wanted to come.

Lin said...

well i thought you & myles did GREAT!

it was a very sweet service. after what jeff said, i don't think i'll ever be able to go to sonic without thinking of libby :)

Jen Strange said...

Well, I hardly know what to say, Denny. I'm certainly sorry that this was your first notice. Like Lindsey said, the service was indeed very sweet. Jeff's words were just right. Just right.

And I feel the same about Sonic--what Jeff said gave me a taste for it, so Micah and I went for some honorary sodas there after the service. Never again without thoughts of our friend.

Anonymous said...

What did Jeff say about Sonic that make you think of Libby? Remember, I couldn't be there!!!
:) Holly