Lifestyle

Faithful Living: Never neglect what matters most

Life is all about love.

--Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life”

His name is Bill and 62 years ago he married Betty. He proudly served our nation in World War II, then worked as a respected member of Sears and Roebuck’s plumbing and fixtures department in Ventura, Calif., until his retirement.

While I was not introduced to Bill until I was a young teenager, I have early memories of accompanying my dad to Sears for home repair purchases. To this day I absolutely love popcorn — especially the aroma as it pops — and I attribute my fondness to that Sears store in Ventura. That’s because they served freshly popped corn to their customers and I treasure the memory of parking myself somewhere near my dad, holding a bag of warm, buttery popcorn and eating to my heart’s content while he searched for just the right fixture.

No doubt he conferred with Bill Robson and I’d be willing to bet Dad came home with a joke or two that he probably retold later that week at his Kiwanis Club meeting. You see, Bill was an understated comedian and used his jokes to immediately connect with his customers. After a good-hearted laugh Bill would ask how he could be of service to them. Not only was the sale usually made, but also a trustworthy relationship created — as only reliable products teamed with friendliness and expertise can produce.

Betty was the consummate homemaker, raising two boys alongside her devoted husband Bill. I first met Betty at church, for she was in charge of the large group of kitchen volunteers who served us coffee each Sunday morning and then again when receptions were required — usually following baptisms, weddings, memorial services and anniversaries.

Not only was she a fabulous cook, but she was also a team player, a hostess, and the living example of a gracious servant. Always wearing a dress, stockings, and an apron, Betty hugged and smiled and kept our church congregants filled to the brim with casseroles that to this day represent the ultimate in comfort food for me. She was a gift beyond measure.

My 32-year relationship with Bill and Betty began the year I began dating the paperboy. He was their cousin and when there was a family dinner I was always included. And while the extended family members shared dinner hosting responsibilities, I absolutely loved going to Bill and Betty’s house because the experience was so pure.

Martha Stewart would have driven herself completely crazy attempting to accommodate the hordes that arrived to eat in their 800-square-foot house, but not Bill and Betty, and certainly not us. It was never about place settings and freshly arranged centerpieces. It was all about lining up at the kitchen door and working our way down the kitchen counters to serve up piping hot casseroles, salads of all varieties, desserts and breads. It was about picking a spot on the floor or a bed to eat the most amazing food, laugh at Bill’s jokes and connect with those around us.

Eventually I married the paperboy and was lovingly welcomed into his family. Betty’s gift for our wedding was homemade butter mints, hand twisted and colored to match the bridesmaid’s dresses. Brach has been making candy we all love for a century and I like the way their pastel colored, after-dinner mints melt in my mouth, but they will never ever hold a candle to Betty’s mints.

I thought about Bill and Betty this week as I continued reading Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Drive Life.” I decided to spend the 40 days that make up the Lenten season reading Warren’s book and it was chapter 16, the “What Matters Most” chapter, which touched me deeply this week.

This and the news that Betty recently followed her beloved Bill to heaven, just days apart from one another.

What matters most, Warren contends, is that we make the obvious choice to demonstrate love on a daily basis. We are not to focus on acquiring things, achieving power or personal acclaim if it means neglecting our children or the people in our lives. Instead, we are to believe God when he says to find ways to demonstrate your love — deeply and consistently and without abandon. If necessary, we are to make enough personal changes that we will leave a legacy of love.

If we are to believe what Warren contends, Bill and Betty charted the course of their eternal lives by centering their lives on God and daily demonstrating love to their family and friends. By serving us Bill and Betty also served God and will continue to act as roll models for those of us left to ponder our purpose and destiny.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jbklope@hotmail.com.

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