Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My friend Margaret Light turns 92 today!

In the late 90's I was a kindergarten teacher at First Baptist Church on Lakeshore. I loved my job immensely and I loved my kids. I had the best children and parents. I also had a good friend in another teacher there, Margaret Light. At the time Margaret was in her early 80's, still driving to work and working several days a week. She said it kept her young. There were many days I would be worn out and want to go home at the end of the day, only to look at Margaret, who was still going strong and still hugging children. Margaret loved children. She married young, escaping a sad childhood and a father she detested and was never able to have children. But in her work, they were all her children. While Margaret was very temperamental in dealing with adults-even ornery at times (though never to me), she always had a big heart for children. None of the other teachers could work with Margaret, but I found her to be very endearing. We developed a wonderful friendship and love for each other.
When I became pregnant with Sledge I insisted to my director that I would return to work after having my baby. That changed. I saw the face of my child and wanted her all to myself, so I became a stay at home mom. Margaret was devastated when I told her that I would not return to work. I did keep in touch with Margaret through correspondence from time to time, but through the years and moves I lost my address book containing her number and address. Years had passed and a staff change so when I contacted the church to get her information they could not release it to me siting it "confidential". Margaret always had feared her father would one day return so she had everything unlisted. I always thought of her through the years. Sadly wondering if she had passed away. Her family had all gone on, that I knew and the only remaining were the twin nephews she had. I never knew their names. She always referred to them both as one word "nephew". Thus I was left to wonder about Margaret, for I had no means of finding out about her.
Fast forward some 11 years later, in late November 2007, I was cleaning out some things and found an old address book. I tossed it into the garbage thinking it was outdated. That night I lay in bed and then thought of Margaret. I excitedly put on my house shoes and was hopeful to go outside to sift through the trash. Somehow I managed to find the tiny 2 by 2 inch purse size address book in the dark. In the morning I gave the number a try. It rang and rang and finally a voice on the other end. It was indeed Margaret! She was always hard of hearing, as well as seeing. She could not hear me, even as I yelled into the phone.
I tried two more times, only to have her answer and keep saying, "Hello". The little book contained her address so I typed up in big bold letters a note to Margaret, in hopes she would remember me and sent it off in the mail. The next day I got the call, "Leigh! Leigh! Leigh?", it was Margaret. She was thrilled, as was I. She explained that she had inadvertently turned off her volume control on her telephone thus she could not hear my voice in the previous phone calls. She so badly wanted to see me. I told her that I would come and get her and take her to lunch for her 92nd birthday. She was so anxious.
On Christmas Eve I telephoned her to wish her a Merry Christmas. She didn't answer. I tried again on Christmas Day, again no answer. Though I was a bit concerned I was hopeful that "Nephew" had taken her somewhere for the day. Days passed and I tried to phone her a few more times to no avail. I grew increasingly concerned. Yesterday I tried the church again, knowing that today would be her birthday and our day of reunion. I explained to the secretary who I was, listing off staff at the time as well as the pastor. She was new to the job, but she did know the pastor's name. She said she would try and help. I could hear her punching in buttons. "Yes, I have it here...It says that Margaret fell. She was down for 2 days before anyone found her". My heart sank. " She is at +++++ Assisted Living Facility". I leaped for joy! Not only was she "OK" or as "OK" as a 92 year elderly woman can be but the facility is close to my home. I telephoned the facility and asked about Margaret and they said it would be fine for me to come. is the day. Margaret is 92 years old. I plan to surprise her, as she has no clue I will be coming. I am going to pick up a birthday cake and flowers. It is a very special day for both of us. I will let you all know how it goes. I cannot wait!
(The photo was taken cira 1994. Yes that IS me. Some 40 lbs thinner. A young lady. Wow, I forgot what my natural hair color was. It was 14 years ago. I am aware of this and how age has treated me. No need to comment. Please don't comment on!)


Abbey Road -- said...

That is the SWEETEST!! I have tossed old personal address/phone books and now wish that I had them .. you never know! I used to carry them around for years; I don't know why I decided to get rid of them .... out with the old and in with the new maybe.

Leigh said...

That is what I had done. Tossed all my old books and I thought I did that one but had found it among some things. And it happened to be the only one with her address in it. It was meant to be.

Lulu said...

What a nice story! You must let us know how your visit goes. I'm glad that you were able to get in touch with her after all of these years.

Many years ago (in the early 90s as well), my husband and I lived next door to an elderly woman who I often think about. I know that she is still living, and I really need to make it a priority to go visit her.

Thanks for sharing your story!

Leigh said...

Lulu-I had a wonderful visit. Thanks you! I will post also, but I was thrilled to have spent time with her.
Yes-visit. Tim passes so quickly. Yu may not get to say things you wanted and also in most cases the elderly are so forgotten and lonely. I know she will appreciate your visit.