Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Countdown to Qatar: Letting Go of my Support System

My Sister from Another Mother

I've been in Doha for a little over two weeks.  I had planned a few more posts in my "Letting Go" series, but simply ran out of time in the run up to my departure date.

But, I'm pausing before the semester starts to complete the series.  Today, I want to talk about my support system in Grundy. 

This morning on Bloomberg International TV, I watched an interview of photographer, Sally Mann.  She talked about aching for her home state of Virginia and the deep kindness of its people.  I understood exactly what she was talking about.

Over in the central Appalachian Mountains, Virginians give that kindness an extra bump up, something I always called mountain hospitality.

In my thirteen years living in Grundy, everyone was extremely warm, kind, helpful, and loving.  They generously folded me into the community.  So, here is my tribute to the folks who provided the many types of personal services we often take for granted.  Each service involved a very personal connection and quality customer service I came to treasure.

Home and Garden

I have to start first with the most important part of my support system, my personal assistant, Brenda Rice.  She started as my housekeeper shortly after I broke my leg.  Her first impressions of me were not positive, but she stuck with me.  I think of her as my sister from another mother. 

(I ask for her forgiveness, in advance, for including photos of her disheveled from her very hard work.)

She provides outstanding housekeeping service and delivers it with independent problem-solving skills, a song (literally), and thorough knowledge of the cleaning technology and products.  I learned so much from her. 

She is a "Jill of all Trades."  She painted walls, woodwork, and the deck. She (with her friend Jean) refurbished my kitchen counters and cabinets.  She has a very steady hand with a paint brush and hardly ever drips paint.  She loves to stand back to appreciate a freshly painted wall, piece of furniture, or other project.

She also managed the garden and lawn, watered the container plants, dead-headed roses, helped me build a stone walk, cleaned the pond annually, opened and
closed the side porch every year, and decorated the house for Christmas. 



In short, my house would not have been a home without her.

For over ten years, she was my cultural interpreter and insight to local personalities. 

She has minded the dogs on my many trips out of town and found loving homes for Boo Boo and Maria so I could let go of them, too. 

In fact, she took my aging Maria into her own home.  When it comes to animals, she has a very tender heart.

Over the past six months, she helped me pack and otherwise get ready for my move to Qatar. She was patient with me when the stress and anxiety made me bossy and a little crabby. 

During our last packing day, when all my clean underwear was packed away in sealed air bags, she washed and hand dried another pair of panties for me -- using a hair dryer. 

She helped me load the car with my suitcases, shared my last meal in the U.S., drove me to the airport, and said a prayer for my safe delivery to Doha.

Even after I had stepped on a plane, she was still packing, making sure folks had access to the house as needed, storing my goods in her second floor room, closing up the storage unit, and otherwise wrapping up my life in Grundy.

On a more personal note, she has been a supportive friend and positive light in my life, even when her life involved terrible loss and daily challenges.  She is the personification of the strong, smart, resourceful, frugal, devout, kind, other-oriented women that populate the Appalachian Mountains. 

She made my life so much more rich for having known her.

And, she will continue to serve as my personal assistant now that I have arrived in Doha, handling whatever still needs attention in the U.S.

If anyone needs a reliable and dedicated assistant, call Brenda. 

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