Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brighten the corner where you are

I think it most likely was Fred --- either sitting around visiting after church or during Bible study --- who asked our delightful friend, Marian Miller, to sum up the operating philosophy that had steered her though life, always with a smile.

She replied by quoting a few lines from Ina D. Ogdon's old gospel hymn, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are." 

The organist, I'm told --- not at all sentimental about old gospel songs --- cringed a little Monday when told we might incorporate it into her funeral service, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Andrew's. But, simple as they are, those words do a good job of summing up.

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true, 
Brighten the corner where you are.

Asked one time why she thought fewer Americans were attending church these days, she was puzzled. "What else would you do on Sunday morning?" she asked.

And she was always there, although in later years extremely forgetful and not very steady on her feet. A couple of years ago, while setting up in the chancel, someone said, "Oops, time to go get Marian." We walked out into the narthex, and there she was seated on a bench --- having walked right by the desk at Northridge Assisted Living, out the door, up the hill, and across the grassy back yard of the church on a very cold early spring morning, not dressed too warmly. We were more careful after that.

Marian was 93 when she died Sunday, just slipping away.

When Marian (Inbody) Wright married Floyd Miller many years ago, it was a second for both --- and their family was a blended one.

Floyd and Marian built a new house on the old "Swede" Miller place, not far northeast of the non-Swede Miller farm in the Williamson Pond neighborhood of English Township. The two families had been neighbors for more than a century and "Swede" had been applied to Millers of Swedish descent to differentiate them from Millers who weren't. I'm one of the non-Swedes.

In later years, after my aunt and uncle had retired to the old homeplace, Richard and Marie Miller, Floyd and Marian Miller and Lowell and Mary Dachenbach --- neighbors --- became close friends. Lowell's mother had been a non-Swede Miller, too.

After the men died, Marie, Marian and Mary --- sometimes referred to as the "three M's --- remained on their respective farms and watched out for each other.

Then Marian's memory began to fail and about six years ago she moved from the farm to Northridge Assisted Living where she remained until about a month ago.

At the end, she lived in the eternal present --- but that neither altered her personality nor dimmed her smile and she continued to brighten corners until closing her eyes for the last time.


Mary Ellen said...

A lovely tribute, Frank.

Marcy Fry said...
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Marcy Fry said...

Thank you Frank. That was really nice. Grandma will be missed by all that knew her.

robert said...
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