Susan Shinn: Mildred left legacy of pleasant memories

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

I was lucky to grow up in China Grove, and luckier still to grow up among the titans of the community in the ’70s and early ’80s: Cecil Graham, Cecil Pethel, Carl Sloop Jr., Josephine Pionkowski, Ashley Roberts.
Then there was Mildred.
All of us went to the same church. She and Daddy worked together at the bank — way back in the day — with their friend, Evelyn. (Evelyn dropped me on my head when I was a baby. But that’s another story for another time.)
Mildred took quite better care of me. When I was in first grade, Mom and Daddy did something extremely out of character for them — they took a cruise.
They did not take me.
I had the extreme good fortune of staying with Mildred. I went home with my teacher, Mrs. Rogers, in the afternoons, and I’d wait for Mildred until she got done at the bank.
Then we’d go to her house on Franklin Street, a couple of blocks away. Her daughters, Beth and Lee Ann, were grown and gone by then, and I had her all to myself. She fixed me crushed ice in tiny, jewel-colored aluminum cups. One of the girls had left behind a tiara, and Mildred even let me wear it, so long as I was very, very careful.
(This would probably explain my love of tiaras, now that I think about it.)
Mildred loved to cook, she loved her roses and her girls, she loved Ashley and she loved me.
Long after the cruise was over, Mildred continued to look after me, the way ladies at church tend to do.
She was one of my biggest fans, once I started writing. I mean, once I started writing for a living. I always wrote. When she was 85, I was privileged to help her write the story of her life.
She had lived a good life, she told me, and she was happy.
Mildred was buried this week. Pastor Greg Yeager used the perfect words to describe her: energetic, kind, gracious, giving.
He also said that she could nag upon occasion.
Mildred had a friend who is an editor of daily devotions, and I’m pretty sure she nagged Rochelle to the point where she finally gave me an assignment. I continue to do it every year, and it’s my favorite assignment, every time.
Pastor Yeager said if Mildred had something to do, then that was her idea of heaven. I would also agree with that. Whether it was baking her yeast rolls, or leading devotions at the Lutheran Home, or writing chipper notes, Mildred was happy.
When I was 6, I waited for her every afternoon until she came to get me. On All Saints Sunday, we will light a candle for Mildred. We will speak her name, numbered among the saints. And we’ll see her one day at the river, that flows by the throne of God.
She’ll be waiting for me.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.