the people are the best part

First a confession: I read People Magazine. I “bought” the subscription with Mauri’s United air miles, so the label has his name on it. Before I recycle each issue, I carefully cut off his name to destroy the evidence.

So I read People, though “read” is a loose term. Mostly I thumb through the star pictures and land toward the back on the articles that are about real people. Because even though I’m an introvert, I really do love people. My friend Craig often says “the people are the best part” about the congregation he pastors. And even though my recent travels took me through some beautiful country, my purpose was to visit people I love. They were the best part.

My goal for this post is to share at least one interesting thing about the folks I visited. Since they’re all interesting people, it will be a challenge to limit myself. But I’ll give it my best shot.


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We say Marcy is Paul’s cousin because that’s the easiest way to explain my relationship to her. She lives comfortably with her cat, Ashes, in the same house to which her parents brought her from the hospital.

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Marcy was hit by a car in a parking lot earlier this year, and even though she walks with a cane as a result, she has managed to keep her yard looking Better Homes & Gardens beautiful.


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Here’s a little quiz: What is Molly’s favorite color? OK, that was too easy. What you can’t see is that all of the books on her shelf are blue.

Molly hosted me in Wheaton, IL, where I attended my 50th high school class reunion. We’ve been friends for many years…more than 50!

Vic and Romelle


I was Vic’s secretary at Fox Valley YFC while I was in high school. Romelle was my wedding coordinator; their daughter, Becky, my flower girl. They spend a lot of time at their sons’ and grandsons’ football games.

Gary and Barbara / Dave and Marsha

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That’s Gary up on the big screen, giving announcements at Wheaton Bible Church. If it weren’t for Gary’s influence in connecting his friend Paul Carlson to a job opportunity at Youth for Christ in Wheaton, IL, back in 1964, well, we can just say my life would have turned out very different.

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So Gary and Barb have been dear friends for a long time. They’re looking through the book about Paul that I made for my kids.

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Dave and Marsha, along with Gary and Barb, were Paul’s friends at Taylor University and have remained my friends through the years. So we “did lunch” for old time’s sake.


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My friend Char still lives down the street from where our Carlson family lived in Michigan. She’s an artist.

Char's ArtPrize painting

This is the painting she entered into this year’s ArtPrize.

Ange and Ev

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I have been a grateful recipient of Ev and Ange’s love-in-action kind of friendship. And through it these remarkable sisters have grown very dear to me. They want me to notice that Father Time has changed them, and I just don’t see it!

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We visited for a while in Ev’s assisted living room, the walls of which are decorated with her stained-glass and tie-mosaic art. This piece was created from, yep, neckties.


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Cousin Mona holds the proud distinction of being the elementary-school librarian for the Plumlee brothers of Duke basketball fame—Miles, Mason, and Marshall.

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She maintains friendship with them and passes along their game-ticket offerings to her grandson, Carter.

Dave and Sue


Cousins Dave and Sue are enjoying retirement in a lovely new-to-them home. Sue gave me a tour. On the tour I saw Dave’s workshop. Dave’s been my cousin my whole life. I’ve always known he was a smart man, holding several patents with the Delco division of GM, but I never knew he was gifted with his hands.

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Sue explained they had only one bedside table. This one.

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So he made her one to match. I was duly impressed.

Helen Katherine / David and Elaine / Harold

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Cousin Helen Katherine, though ten years my senior, still successfully tutors students in reading and math.

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How many teachers do you know who display paper wasp nests—from her own trees—in her office?

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HK has a close friendship with David and Elaine and their extended family, who shared an evening with her visiting cousin (me). They are lively and fun and very active in politics!

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This is Harold, HK’s friend. He is a gentle man who can still tell stories about his days in the war.

Jim and Lisa / Hannah, Lilly and Owen

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Cousin Lisa told the story of finding a deserted freshly born kitten in a barn. With the owner’s blessing, she claimed and named him DJ (short for Don Juan). DJ went everywhere with Lisa so she could feed him…every 45 minutes around the clock! DJ was content with their arrangement, but a passerby in a mall parking lot took matters into her own hands and kittennapped DJ! Lisa’s discovery was grievous indeed. Hannah, Lisa and Jim’s daughter, recognized her mother’s fragile state and set in motion a state-wide search, since the theft occured in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, 40 miles from her home in Winona Lake. Eventually, information from the animal shelter and the police led to DJ’s rescue.

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If you look closely, you’ll count the four dogs that greeted my arrival. They live at peace with DJ and three other cats.

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This is my cousin Jim, Dave’s youngest brother. He built a house on the lake of my childhood summers. I used to roller skate in that building, now a restaurant, across the canal.

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Jim and Lisa raised their five children in Winona Lake (in the town, not in the lake), so their love for this place goes deep.

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My visit included time with Hannah and her kids. They are transitioning from Alaska to her husband’s next assignment with the military.

My four-state road trip ended at a Chicago motel. I was thankful for travel safety and good directions from my phone’s GPS.

Home, sweet home

But I was most thankful for the friendly shuttle service from the airport. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

This entry was posted in family matters, travels. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to the people are the best part

  1. Frank Penna says:

    This was marvelous! What a wonderful bunch of blessings to share with others. I’m glad for you that the Lord provided such a great trip with such great people. God is good! Next time, swing a little further south. You are absolutely right – the people are the best part. And you and Mauri are some of those people to many of us! I got the biggest laugh imagining you “secretly” (discretely?) cutting his name off the magazine! Hope the government doesn’t find out…it’s like tearing the tags off your mattress…next thing you know there will be helicopters, tanks and military personnel in your yard saying, “we’d like to speak to you about your reason for cutting labels off your People magazine!”

  2. Pingback: retired at 81+ | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

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