They appeared just before the service began.
He carried a small pillow under his arm.
I always wondered why.
Together they sat in the front pew, listening attentively.
One Sunday, as the service ended, Mary’s husband stood to leave.
The pillow he had carried under his arm now lay on the church pew
where he had been sitting; showing two dents from his hipbones.
A World War 1 veteran,
Don had been gassed during the time of his service
to our country.
He was frail and attentive and attended the worship service with Mary
I would never have known Mary
had it not been for attending the same church as she and her husband, Don.
She was a faithful worshiper.
Together, the two entered the sanctuary each Sunday.
Leaving quietly without conversation,
they offered a nod and smiles
to those who greeted them.
Mary was a tall woman.
On Sunday morning, she was always attired in her Sunday best.
In winter, a bandanna around her head
saved Mary from the cold and rain.
Old-fashioned rubber boots protected her from the elements
Mary would never know the lasting impression
she made on my life, and surely on the lives of others.
Her faithful love of the Lord, deep affection for her husband and two sons, and respect for the flag of our country was a lesson for many if we would only observe.
She never served on a committee at church, but attended every meeting. Having no vehicle,
she walked the distance to the meetings
from her home,
a mile away at that time.
One special meeting was scheduled to discuss the building of a new church.
It was held on a summer evening.
We gathered in the basement of our old church,
and Mary was there.
The idea of our small congregation taking on this large project had been discussed for some time among the parishioners.
During a moment of quiet in the meeting that evening,
Mary reached in her old worn purse, and pulled out a wrinkled bill.
As she laid it on the table, she said,
“There’s your first dollar”.
The project was underway.
One January morning,
church services were cancelled due to a blizzard.
It was dangerous to ask the parishioners to venture into the storm.
I felt warm and cozy
as I sat in my living room
watching only a few cars driving down the highway.
Then I saw Mary.
She was walking toward church,
carrying her Bible.
The ever present cold weather scarf
was tied under her chin.
Her long wool coat now offered protection from the blowing snow.
I felt ashamed.
I didn’t live as far from the church as Mary.
I had a car.
Mary was walking in the blizzard.
I was relaxing in my nice warm house.
The scene has stayed with me for many years.
Recalling another dreary day, as I was driving home,
I saw Mary walking in the heavy rain.
Carrying her Bible, she was heading toward home.
I stopped to give her a ride and asked her where she’d been.
“I was at a Bible study at the church”, she said.
As she climbed out of the car in front of her house,
the rain was increasingly heavy. Thanking me for the ride, she walked over to their flag pole. Carefully retrieving our American flag from the pouring rain,
she folded it, and took it into her home.
Mary’s favorite saying was;
“God knows all about it!”
Reverend Jim once commented,
“If it were possible to ride into heaven on someone’s coattails,
I’d choose Mary.”
I hope Mary has enough room on those coattails
Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck