Fabric of Friendships

Viola after Perry

The fabric of friendships is a cotton broadcloth. Common, everyday, down to earth folks that you can sip a cup of coffee or iced tea with and forget what hour you started. But when the carafe runs empty it might be a clue to go back home.

The reason I think of cotton broadcloth as the fabric of friendships is that is so common. Common like the fabric of a chair cushion. One of my coffee friends made this cushion for me “to order.” Useful, practical and easy to wash if I should spill my coffee on it. No chair cushion is made of silk, or wool dress-pant material. While some soft fleeze might be nice, it’s just not practical. Coffee friendships are the every day type. People that help us see the usual as wothy, healthy, and we walk away with value in them and in ourselves.

Coffee cup cozy friends are hard to come by. This day and age people do such different types of lifestyles that finding the next door neighbor that becomes a life long friend is rare. When I think of this couple across the alley from us as we grew up, I wonder at the different viewpoints each of us as a family had of them.

All those years it was always ‘Perry and Vi.’ They never had any children. Viola suffered a cow kick as a youngster and that injury with it’s lasting scar tissue left her barren. They loved in a “boundaries” sort of way. The whole town seemed to understand them as salt of the earth, steady, loyal and honest people.

My mom always had the deepest respect for them. And she taught us that just because the couple demanded respect of their property by the neighborhood children, did not mean we should fear this couple. Perry’s lawn was immaculately clean. While this signaled the lack of children in their home, we were always welcome to sip lemonade on the back swing with them.

Fear was not part of my memory of this couple. Their love for each other seemed to radiate out ward to all of the “coffee” drop ins that were welcomed at their home. Many of these guests came from the church fellowship. this church ws on the corner across the street from their house.

Perry was the church custodian. I remember all of the boards that Perry was on besides church, with his work at the local farmers coop elevator also. And the funniest thing about his return home from all of his work was the way he cut the engine before coasting into the alley beside his back door. It was like a ball player sliding into home base. That sound still echoes in my head as the tires make the pebbles of gravel crackle underneath a silent engine.

Knowing that Viola was her name never stopped us from calling her just Vi. We knew tha they both came from rather large families, because the story time over lemonade, tea, or just a glass of water was endless. I always felt like I could not get enough of the past with them. From the humor to the sad, everything always had the same conclusion.

“The Lord has bee so good to us.”

Sometimes I remember questioning how they could say that with all the losses that they experienced.

Late after Perry’s death, I convinced my husband to stop by Vi’s house and see if she was home. Her face was radiant with recognition and her lips were full with God’s praise. She shared things like their favorite chairs in the living room. Their spot for Bible reading. Their times of prayer for those in the basket of Christmas cards. There was never a complaining tone or a hint of sadness as she praised God for all the good years she and Perry had together. The last Christmas letters that were hand written from her still had the same conclusion…

“The Lord has been so good to us.”

There is a verse in Psalms that seems to fit Vi and Perry’s confession of faith the most. I think of the Psalms as natural as breathing to them. Psalm 34 seems to me the one that I saw them live. “…The Lord’s praise shall be continually in my mouth…let us praise His name together… (8) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”

While we wait for winter to finish it’s fury, maybe my complaining can take a vacation for the expectation of spring. The Lord has been good to us, we have jsut enough. The hot chocolate with marsh-mellows tastes good. I will trust Him as I continue to remember these beautiful people God has put in my path since childhood.

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