Painting: The Rose Gatherer by Cecil James Hobson
There will be a new column on the sidebar in 2017 called "Friends Of the Past" highlighting people I met as a young woman, even back to my teen years, with whom I am in contact today. I have already done a couple of them, including Angela, a friend since the age of 16 in Tasmania. Each time, I highlight their goodness and share the impact of their lives on mine.
Somehow, there is always a 19th century painting of a woman that looks so much like the person I remember. I have never known any one else with the name of Ila. She looked like the painting, at least she did to me.
When we were in a small country congregation in an overcast, normally gloomy-weathered part of Washington state, I met Ila. We had moved there with high hopes, and the town and the church at the time was suffering a big economic depression. This effected everyone's social and home life, and it was such a let-down to an eager young preacher's wife who enjoyed sunshine and socializing.
Ila invited us for dinner and I have the scene all sketched out in my memory. She had a small child and husband and lived in a tiny attic apartment above her parent's old store, located in an even more remote area. It was a country road at the time. I wondered as I ascended the narrow set of steps to that upper room if I was going to become more discouraged by austere living coupled with another dark afternoon, but I met a life-long friend.
Once upstairs, we were greeted by the wonderful scent of Ila's home-made pizza pie, made with a Bisquick mix, which she served on a coffee table next to some old brown wicker chairs and a small seat covered in a worn quilt. She liked fabric and had made curtains for the little windows. On the coffee table was also a set of clear-glass candle holders shaped like stars, holding long white taper candles. I recall she also had dim lighting from a small electric lamp set upon a dresser, for this room was also their livimg room amd dining room and family sleepimg wuarters all in one.
In that cold, northern climate, her place was adequately warm. She had made a place into a home and she was a unique picture of home made contentment that I will not forget. After enduring the troubles of this life in trying to "get ahead", how many women today would love to go back to such a scene of their family beginnings?
I cannot neglect to say that Ila looked after her parents in their old age, just as my friend Angela, whom I wrote about awhile back.
One thing I like about Ila is that she carried her personal contentment all her life and did not try to reinvent herself or alter her Biblical beliefs. She has a strong admiration of truth, a rare quality today. I also admired her motherhood and het stick-to-it-iveness when she endured upheavals in her life. She suffered terrible losses over the years and she remains the same.
The little dinner scene in her home is one I must attempt to draw someday.
Painting by Carl Herpfer