Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In the company of women

Tonight was the first Women's Evening Guild meeting of the new church year. This is a woman's group, connected to our church but open to all woman of the community. The Evening Guild began in 1948. Men were back from the war and a woman's job was no longer in the factories or building airplanes, but "in the home". After a few years of this staying-home-all-day-with-the-kids stuff, the women in town decided they needed a night out sans husband and children, and so began the Women's Evening Guild. It meets one evening a month, September through June. Tonight was our 60th anniversary.

Guild evenings begin with what is usually called a potluck supper, but since 1948 the Guild has called it a "covered dish supper". Sounds a little more refined, I guess. After dinner we have our business meeting, and after the meeting there is a program of one sort or another.

I have been involved with this group since 1995. I am the youngest member. Have I mentioned that I will be 50 years old in a couple of days? I am the YOUNGEST MEMBER.

This is the hardest working group of women I've ever known. A couple of them are in their 60's; most are in their 70's, and a good handful are in their 80's. Yet they work harder than the younger women in our church. They bake and sew and knit and paint and hammer and glue, and it all creates one heck of a Friendship Village Fair every November.

Whenever our church asks the Guild for money, whether to help pave a driveway, buy a commercial dishwasher for the church kitchen, mend the 150 year old plaster ceiling, the Guild comes through. They've bought the past two computers used in the church office and are about to purchase another one. They bought the folding chairs, the 200 sets of dishes in the cupboard, and paid for the church kitchen to be repainted. Not to mention, they put on one HECK of a funeral collation (reception after a funeral).

Have I mentioned the ages of these ladies? I'm the YOUNGEST MEMBER!!!

I love going to the Guild meetings. I've learned so much from these women. We talk about men and children and what's going on in town. I've learned the history of women whose children are older than I am. I've learned to knit (poorly - I am the only remedial knitting student). I've learned how to pound a nail into old horsehair plaster to hang a picture in such a way that the plaster doesn't crumble. I've been given trusted family recipes. I've grieved with them when husbands have died, and I've cried when some of these wonderful women have left this mortal realm to join them.

My life is deeply enriched by knowing these lovely ladies, and I'm blessed to have known them.

A story told to me tonight by one of my closest lady friends, a woman in her mid-80's: When she was a young bride, she was hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house. The day before Thanksgiving, her mother dropped by, and found her vigorously washing the windows. Mother asked why she was killing herself washing windows in addition to all the cooking. My friend replied, "Because Laura [so-n-so] is coming for Thanksgiving dinner and I know she's going to look to see how dirty my windows are." My friend's mother replied, "Honey, if Laura comes looking for dirt...let her find some!"


noble pig said...

That last story is so true and I it!

Sue said...

I love church ladies.

What are you doing for your birthday anyway?

nutmeg said...

Beautiful, and so much more real to me now that I can see that church in my mind's eye!

Tee said...

What a wonderful group of women. We have lost the art of being friends. We are too busy, I suppose we need to slow down and rekindle that art. This warms me to the very core of my being. It also makes me a little jealous. This is the advantage of living in a small town. :-)