I can remember the cool fall morning the call came out. At our church we call it “Shout Out”. It is an email that lists the needs of people in our community. Those who are sick, or in need.
Sean was on duty that day, but my girls and I responded to the call. It was for a widow that had just lost husband in a very sudden death at hunting camp. The call was to help around her property. I realized then that death does not stop life. The cows still need to be milked, apples still need harvesting, lawns still need to be mowed.
Life goes on even in death.
We bundled up and headed out to the property. When we arrived, the men were already blowing leaves and mowing. Others were putting away things for the winter, or fixing odds and ends. I could see the widow peering looking through the window periodically. How can I reach out to her Lord? What would I say? I don’t even know her.
We quickly set about our work. I surveyed the scene and saw multitudes of apples on trees, as well as on the ground. I gathered up my girls and the other straggling children and we harvested apples. It took us better than three hours!
My girls had to use the bathroom at some point, so we knocked on the door to ask if we could come in. I introduced myself to her friend who opened the door with, “it is so good of you to come and help….. ” her voice trailed off as she glanced over toward the widow. She looked at me. I didn’t want her to feel the obligation to say anything to me. She nodded, agreeing with her friend. They directed us to the bathroom, and then we quickly headed back outside, not wanting in any way to intrude.
It was a beautiful afternoon. Mom’s raking leaves, kids jumping in the piles……the property looked great when we finished up.
I hugged my new friend and asked her what she wanted done with the apples.
“I will probably just give them away. They will otherwise just sit there and go bad.”
“Can we take them and process them for you?”, I asked her.
“Sure, that would be nice.” I could tell by her response that she could have gone one way or the other. There had been too many other decisions to make lately. Apples were the least of her concern.
Our friends brought the apples to my home in their pick up. 10 five gallon buckets– FULL!!
The next morning I began processing the apples, one bucket at a time. I realized by that afternoon, that it was going to take me a long time to get through them. I didn’t want them to go bad. I called a few of my girlfriends. By the next morning, they all showed up with thier cutting boards, their favorite knife, and apple peelers ready to work. I cannot even begin to tell you what happened around that kitchen table on those afternoons.
We laughed, cried, and prayed for our newly widowed friend. We encouraged one another in our own marriages and as mothers.
By the end of the week, we had processed over 30 quarts of applesauce, and 15 gallon bags of apple pie filling.
We wrapped the jars up in cloth and a ribbon and delivered them to our friend. When she opened the door, her eyes filled with tears. I wonder if she thought we would really come and bring her the goods as we had said. I know that I had been dissapointed in grief, and I could see that same look of surprise in her.
We sat for a few moments, and embraced wife to wife. She missed him. I tried to understand.
Fall was in the air in my home that week. The fragrance of community. The seasoning of friendship and shared hearts as we gathered around the widow and the apples…….