I love living in my small hometown where I run into friends who’ve known me all my life. There is no fooling anyone when trying to be something I’m not, so why bother? The people in my close-knit community see me every day and thank goodness I don’t have to dress up to impress anyone. I might be in the garden shop wearing jeans with mud on my plastic clogs, and I’ll still receive a hug. My normal summer uniform at the library is khaki Capri pants with a summer reading T-shirt, and no one lifts a brow. I am blessed with friends, both black and white, rich and poor. What a blessing to live in such a place where it’s been rare for me to notice the racial tension that’s portrayed on the nightly news.
A couple of weeks ago, our mission team hosted a fish-fry fundraiser (try saying that three time times in a row.) On the morning of the event, I discovered we’d scheduled it on the same day of the local dance recital and my heart dropped. My daughter used to take dance lessons, and believe me, almost everyone in town attends the recital. I’d already purchased a truckload of supplies for our event and it was too late to cancel. “We’ll be lucky to break even,” I mumbled. Then I posted a distress call to my Facebook friends that I was experiencing my normal pre-fish fry jitters and feared no one would come. Guess what? They came.
The fish fry was a success, but I discovered a blessing far more significant to me than the money we raised. Many friends and neighbors who I rarely see came to support me because of the notice I posted. One person I must mention is Estella, whose path I have not crossed in over thirty years. Her career and life are in Bowling Green, while I keep the road between Scottsville and Franklin hot. When she saw my call for help on Facebook, she told me she said to herself, “I need to go and support Shelia.”
Estella grew up about a mile down the road from me, and we’ve been friends since first grade. She was as sweet then as she is today. When I saw her smiling face at the fish fry, I abandoned my duties in the kitchen to sit down and catch up. We never missed a beat as we shared about our families, reminisced about growing up on Elliott Road, and attending our rural elementary school, Prospect Hill. What a blessing to have the opportunity to spend time with her.
When I consider the friends I have, near and far, people who will drop everything and come if I need help, it humbles me. I pray I can be the kind of friend Estella is. Kind and generous, one who does what she can to aid a friend, even if she has to drive a distance to do so. Thank you, Estella, for being my friend, and to all the others, too many to mention, who came and supported our cause. Most of all, we appreciate your love, support, and prayers. My bank account may never grow large, but I am rich in friendship and love, and I am thankful.