As we drive back to Cathy’s after our lunch date, Cathy mentions her friend Marian, who passed away in 2006. She’s talked about her in passing before, piquing my curiosity and making me regret that I missed my chance to meet this amazing woman. This time, I ask for more details. Back at Cathy’s home, we settle into armchairs and she begins to tell me about her friend.
“We used to talk about everything—literature, philosophy. We were both writers. But Marian was the poet. She wrote wonderful, wonderful poetry. She’d share her poetry with me, all right.” Cathy gets out her prayer book and shows me a much-folded paper that she’d tucked between its pages. On it was a poem her friend had written in 2002.
I took a walk in the woods the other night with God.
God pointed out things I never saw before.
The peace that was in the woods…
Cathy remembers, “Those came out of her once or twice a week, at least.”
“She was so smart. It was difficult to stump her in trivia. And it didn’t happen very often. The first time I beat her in something she got mad at me.” Cathy laughs.
“She loved to have music, all right. I know her favorite song.” Cathy sings the first line of ‘How Great Thou Art’. “Her church people came every year and sang to her. We had a lady that used to come play piano for us, and they developed a special friendship through music. Marian loved this young lady.”
Marian and Cathy met while they were living in the same nursing home. Marian was unable to speak, and she usually communicated by pointing to letters on a card. But because Cathy is blind, she could not see these letters. Marian ‘said’ things to Cathy by tracing letters and other symbols onto Cathy’s palm; Marian was able to hear Cathy’s spoken words. “We made our own Braille system,” Cathy explains. “And people used to say, ‘How did you do that?’” Letter by letter, word by word, their relationship deepened into an enduring friendship.
Cathy re-folds the poem and puts it away. “She loved flowers. She loved life.”