To Kate: Our Rural Community’s Beloved ‘Mother Teresa’

Pictured from left is Hobie Morris with Kate and Ken.

The Musings of a Simple Country Man

By Hobie Morris

 If nobody smiled and nobody cheered and nobody helped us along

 If each every minute looked after himself and good things all went to the strong

 If nobody cared just a little for you, and nobody thought about me,

 And we stood all alone to the battle of life, what a dreary old world it would be!

“The Making of Friends” by Edgar A. Guest

(Brookfield, NY – April 2013Kate pic) This simple country man strongly believes that in every rural community there is at least one (or more) very special “Mother Teresa.”  A woman (or man) whose positive and loving personality indelibly affects the lives of many people in that community. Each daily radiates a loving kindness that this simple country man finds extraordinarily refreshing in an age of suffocating negativity that pulls us down into the depths of cynicism and despair.   These very special people hearken back to an America that was more compassionate and caring.

Be a friend.  You don’t need money.  Just a disposition sunny;

Just the wish to help another get along some way or other.

Just a kindly hand extended out to one who’s unbefriended.

Be a friend.  You don’t need glory.  Friendship is a simple story. –Edgar A. Guest

Kate is our near neighbor.  Sadly she is in severe pain most of the time.  When visiting she periodically has to stand and lean against a chair.  Her hands show the ravages of a lifetime of extremely hard work and now arthritis.  She has never had a driver’s license or driven a car.   Now in her early 70’s she is burdened with many concerns; enough to defeat a person of far lesser strength and character.

Despite all this, this diminutive, bespectacled, gray haired lady is one of the most loving, compassionate and “giving” people my wife and I have ever met.  She has an inner and outer beauty that illuminates her entire being.  Her constant, beautiful smile reflects a genuine concern for others that is legendary in this rural community.

Four miles from the Brookfield village a dirt lane splits off from a macadam road.  It gradually descends a hill into a narrow upland valley.  The road then continues into the forested State Land.  At the bottom of the hill stands an old farm house and several wooden outbuildings.  This particular spot is usually among the coldest areas in the Township.

The farm house is modest, nicely kept and obviously well loved.  Plumes of wood smoke can usually be seen coming out of chimneys located at both ends of the dwelling.

Ken, his wife Kate and their adult son Mike have lived here for decades.  They live simply and frugally—as do most rural people these days.  They don’t have college degrees or other worldly pedigrees.  They know all about hard times.

Seventeen months ago Ken had a massive stroke.  Kate has had sundry surgeries including several on her back.  Last Fall Kate was almost killed when several huge logs rolled onto her from the top of a tall pile of logs being cut up for firewood.

What sustains them is a rock hard determination and unshakable faith that might just put many seminary trained clergy to shame.

The Germans have a wonderful saying that goes, “The fingers of the housewife do more than a yoke of oxen.”

On any given morning around 4 a.m. lights appear in Kate’s large kitchen. Her day is beginning and won’t come to a close until around 10 p.m.

During the day Kate’s hands never rest.  They are a constant whirlwind of motion.  Mixing, baking, preparing meals, cooking, slicing, kneading, cleaning, etc. and a Herculean task, in season, of canning hundreds (or is it thousands?) of glass jars containing a wide assortment of garden produce, fruits, berries—even meat.  The jars are carefully stored in their dirt floor basement.

Nothing in the world makes Kate any happier than to quietly slip down the basement stairs and soon emerge lugging a heavy cardboard box full of a variety of her delicious produce. Only the good Lord knows how many people in this area have been blessed by the “fruit of her labor.”

Her generosity and hospitality are powerful magnets.  All day long people are calling or driving down the hill and pulling into their driveway; being met at the door by a huge smile on the beaming face of a lady barely over five feet tall.  Whatever she is doing, she’s always thrilled to have you come in, sit and visit.

“Would you like some coffee?” she asks before you barely have time to sit.  People seem to flock to this unassuming farm house way out in the countryside.  I imagine you know what envelopes this house and the generosity given to each visitor.  It’s something we can all use and then pass on to others.

It seems rural people’s needs are many.  Special needs are met by the community joining together in organizing various fundraising benefits.  When the word gets out Kate is always among the first to volunteer.  This piercingly blue eyed human engine rolls into high gear. It’s not unusual for her to bake 15 to 20 pies, dozens of cookies, cupcakes, cakes for a single benefit!  She just waves off her colossal effort with a “…that wasn’t anything….”  If there is anybody in need, Kate happily figures out how she can contribute.

A few days after her run-in with the rolling logs, with a bandaged head and many deep bruises, she was happily “baking up a storm” for a new benefit.

Despite all their own travails, Kate and Ken are always smiling.  When the dear lady finally crawls into bed the good Lord must have a huge smile on His face.  She rests peacefully and satisfied that during that day lives were made happier and the world was a tad better place in which to live.  Faith and love had been the beacons to their little homestead.

To this simple country man Kate and Ken have these priceless gifts—freely given to others.

Among them the gifts of listening, affection, laughter, written word, compliments, cheerfulness and the gift of prayer.

My wife Lois and I have been immeasurably enriched and truly blessed by our friendship with our dear neighbors.   I’ll always consider her Brookfield’s “Mother Teresa.”  I’m also immensely proud of all the other community’s special “helpers.”  God Bless you All.

Hobie Morris is a Brookfield resident and simple country man.

 

 

 

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