The other day was the day that I help out with the local soup kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church in my hometown of Aurora Illinois (which I love). I was excited to see that the church that was helping us was that of one of my favorite people I’ve gotten to know through that soup kitchen, Arlene (a photo of her and I is below).
As I stepped inside Trinity and started prepping for serving others, I asked the guy who normally takes Arlene how she was doing and he informed me that she passed away in her sleep 3 weeks ago. That hit me hard, I asked a few questions pertaining to the service and then I stepped outside to be alone with my thoughts and emotions. I didn’t cry, but the tears might come later, but anger rose to the top of me because no one let me know that she passed away and some people who know me and my interaction with me could have called me. I would have wanted to pay my last respects to Arlene by being there, so I guess this’ll have to do because that opportunity is not afforded to me, so here it goes…
I met Arlene a few years ago and instantly I knew this old[er] lady had spunk. Arlene was of Irish decent, and it didn’t take long for her to let other people know this; There are two types of people in the world – those who are Irish and those who wish they were she’d tell others. It was essentially “love at first fight” with Arlene, she had torts, I had retorts, and she had reretorts…but it was good natured and nothing she said hurt me and vice-versa. I would occasionally help her outside of Trinity and spend time with her as she’d smoke cigarettes, telling me tidbits of her life and her family, she really loved her grandsons and was proud to tell me of their latest accomplishments in life. Arlene had a lot of stories, it was interesting to hear about the days of Alaska before it was Alaska (The Yukon Territory). There were times I sensed that her family, though local, kept themselves busy with their lives and didn’t spend as much time as she would’ve liked with her. She wasn’t lonely, but she was one who appreciated family and just wanted to be there for them where she could.
Arlene was a sweet older woman who would let me know, “Despite what everyone has to say, I think you’re something special!” I would quip, what everyone has to say? I don’t believe you! and she would quip “I don’t believe me either!”
It was sad to see her fraility at times, her slow gait and her frustration with it all, but she was good at what she did; primarily she would work at the end of the soup kitchen line and hand out cookies and fresh fruit to whomever wanted it. I was quick to replenish her supply as it went quickly, and she was pleased that I did this, telling others I was her guardian angel…she knew how to make me blush in this circumstances, I was just glad to serve her as she served others.
Hot summer days kept her away from Trinity, cold winter days did too, which made autumn ideal and I was hoping to see her again but that didn’t happen this year. It was her time to go and God wanted her home, I can’t be stingy about it nor can I complain, she had a good run and I’m glad to have known her.
RIP Arlene, I hope you’re not causing too much trouble in Heaven for God and others 🙂