Years of storms had taken their toll on the old windmill. Its wheel, rusted and fallen, lay silent in the lush bluegrass. Its once animated silhouette was now a tall motionless steeple in the twilight sun.
I hadn‘t walked across our old farm in fifteen years. Yet the sensations came flooding back. I could smell the freshness of new mown alfalfa. I could feel the ping of the ice cold summer rain, and the sun‘s sudden warmth on my wet shoulders when it reappeared after a brisk July thunderstorm.
Rain or shine, I used to walk this path each day to see Greta. She always made me smile, even after Sis and I had just had a big squabble. I would help Greta with her chores. Then we would visit over a generous helping of her delicious homemade chocolate cookies and ice cream. Being confined to a wheel chair didn‘t stop Greta from being a fabulous cook.
Greta gave me two of the greatest gifts I‘ve ever received. First, she taught me how to read. She also taught me that when I forgave Sis for our squabbles, it meant I wouldn‘t keep feeling like a victim. Instead, I would feel sunny.
Mr. Dinking, the local banker, tried to foreclose on Greta‘s house and land after her husband passed away. Thanks to Pa and Uncle Johan, Greta got to keep everything. Pa said that it was the least he could do for someone talented enough to teach me to read!
Soon folks were coming from miles around to buy Greta‘s homemade cakes, pies, breads, cookies, cider, and ice cream. Hank, the grocery store man, came each week to stock his shelves and bring Greta supplies.
Greta even had me take a big apple pie to Mr. Dinking who became one of her best customers and friends. That‘s just how Greta was. She could turn anyone into a friend!
Greta always said, "Dear, keep walking in sunshine!" No matter how terrible my day started, I always felt sunny walking home from Greta‘s house-even beneath the winter starlight.
I arrived at Greta‘s house today just after sunset. An ambulance had stopped a few feet from her door, it‘s red lights flashing. When I ran into the old house, Greta recognized me right away.
She smiled at me with her unforgettable twinkling blue eyes. She was almost out of breath when she reached out and softly touched my arm. Her last words to me were "Dear, keep walking in sunshine!"
I‘m sure that Greta is walking in the brightest sunshine she‘s ever seen. And, I‘m sure that she heard every word I read at her memorial service.
I chose a beautiful verse by Leo Buscaglia. It‘s one that Greta taught me to read many years ago…
"Love can never grow old. Locks may lose their brown and gold. Cheeks may fade and hollow grow. But the hearts that love will know, never winter‘s frost and chill, summer‘s warmth is in them still."