While I was sitting at the hair salon earlier this week, a sweet memory interrupted my thoughts. Kimberly, the hair dresser’s almost three-year-old daughter was enjoying the taste of a bright yellow banana.
My mind was taken aback to a lady that attended our local church when I was a youngster. Everyone lovingly called her, Sister Berry. She lived two doors down from us and was a family friend. Sister Berry was a housekeeper.
For some unknown reason she took a special liking to one of my older sisters named Gina. Every day after work, Sister Berry would bring a banana to Gina. It would be graciously received with a smile. Then she would spend time talking with my mother. She never stayed very long. After she left, Gina would throw the banana away. Gina never liked bananas and to this day she doesn’t eat them.
Eventually Gina went off to college out of town. The umbrella of affection was now showered on my remaining siblings and me still living at home. One thing had changed though. She no longer had a banana when she came by after work. Perhaps that was something reserved just for Gina. We soon heard stories of Sister Berry’s life.
When we all got engaged, Sister Berry would spend time meeting our potential spouses. She had an uncanny ability to give her opinion even when you didn’t ask. Her voice would sometimes crack but her message always came out loud and clear. She expected them to treat us with respect and love. When we all moved away from home and returned for visits, Sister Berry insisted that we stop by to see her. There was always a nugget of wisdom that she shared with us.
She was an avid walker. Her life was a full one. For as long as I knew her, she was a widow. While most people her age would shy away from having major surgery, that was not the case with her. When she was 89, she had a pacemaker put in.
Sister Berry passed away a few years ago at the age of 100. As my father likes to say, “Any one his or Sister Berry’s age would not be accused of dying from a premature death”. Dad is nearly 90.
As a baby boomer, I find myself looking back on stories told from Mrs. Berry’s era and others born during that time period. It is interesting how the lessons learned way back then, still impact your life today.
Everybody should have a Sister Berry in their lives. I feel blessed and wiser because of it.