Pinke: Unexpected visit brings joy, memories
The doorbell rang on a regular Wednesday afternoon. You have to make an effort to drive out to our house, so it's rare for the doorbell to ring unless my daughters are playing on the porch. I knew it wasn't them this time because they were at an ...
The doorbell rang on a regular Wednesday afternoon. You have to make an effort to drive out to our house, so it's rare for the doorbell to ring unless my daughters are playing on the porch. I knew it wasn't them this time because they were at an after-school church group. UPS and FedEx packages are dropped off at my husband's office. I usually can see who walks up to our house from my home office but I didn't this time.
I opened the door to find an 80-plus-year-old friend, bundled up in her winter coat, mittens and hat, with a manila envelope in hand. She had hoped to catch our girls at home to show them "this," pointing to the envelope. "Frieda," as I'll call her, had stopped at our family business lumberyard first to find out if I was home before venturing out to our house.
In this day of smartphones, texting and social media, an unexpected guest brightens my work-from-home afternoon. Frieda and I share a unique bond and connection. She showed up on the front step of our rental house 10 years ago when we moved from Fargo to Wishek. She brought a loaf of lemon bread and asked if I remembered her from my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary.
Only our family and my grandparent's wedding party attended their anniversary celebration in 2001. Frieda was one of my grandma's three bridesmaids as well as her little sister at the North Dakota State University Kappa Delta House in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
When my grandma makes the 160-mile trip to Wishek, she and Frieda often take time to visit. They've exchanged Christmas cards and notes from time to time during the past 65 years. Frieda sends our kids birthday cards and gives them gifts throughout the year. She never misses a school concert, and she sat in the bleachers for most of our son's home basketball games. Frieda isn't just someone we know in Wishek - she's a treasured friend, a grandma figure in many ways to my children.
Frieda decided to stay for a bit so she went out to turn off her car. She came back in and sat at the dining room table. The manila envelope laid unopened with my daughter's names written on it. My curiosity was growing.
"Would it be OK if I just peeked inside to see what you have in there?" I asked.
"Oh, I just had to give the girls this now," she said. "I was cleaning and someday my kids wouldn't know what to do with this. They'll probably think it's garbage. It wouldn't be special to them. Yes, go ahead and open it."
I spread out the contents of the envelope on our kitchen counter. I saw a large black and white photo of my grandparents and others in formal attire, including Frieda and her date. On the back it said, "Alpha Gamma Rho Fall Term Party, 1950." There was also a Kappa Delta chapter picture, labeled 1949, and a newspaper article with a picture of my grandma as queen of the Little International Livestock Show. I saw a Blue Key National Honor Fraternity program with my grandpa listed as a director for a play put on by Alpha Gamma Rho. Lastly, I opened a photo album featuring small black and white photos of my grandma I had never seen before as well as their wedding invitation, a napkin from their wedding embossed with their names and my grandparent's 1951 Christmas card with their wedding picture.
Frieda saved all of these little mementos of my grandma for 65-plus years and now she was giving them to my daughters. I'm not much of a saver, but my grandma is. Clearly Frieda is too.
On a regular Wednesday afternoon, which also happened to be International Women's Day, I was taken back several decades when young women were in college, pursuing their fresh dreams - different dreams than their mothers' but ones that wouldn't have been possible without the foundations set by their mothers. Women such as Frieda and my grandma earned college degrees, setting a high bar and example for my mom, daughters and me to follow and live up to.
I'm thankful for their friendship, which lasted for generations. I'm thankful for their examples of women who give more than they ever expect in return and for Frieda's mementos that demonstrate to my daughters a lifelong friendship and the love of my grandparents that is nearly 66 years strong.
I'm guessing most doorbells don't get much use these days. I plan pay an unexpected visit to a friend sometime soon.