Mother Goose Salutes Miss Murriel

[Mother Goose does not often share stories back and forth between her two blogs, but this one was too good to NOT share…so this is from mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com but you lucky readers can read it right here!]

Mother Goose is proud to introduce you to her friend, Miss Murriel — the beautiful woman pictured below. We have known each other for about five months, but we believe that our friendship was in place long ago. She’s just that kind of a person — Mother Goose met her and fell in love with her for life and beyond.

The reason that Mother Goose is saluting Murriel today is because she is a TRUE American hero — she’s not one of these Yankee Doodle dandies all waving the flag and singing the National Anthem but not really caring a lick for the veterans, the servicemen and women, and the families who know what true American sacrifice is all about. Murriel cares because she knows first hand what it’s like to be a Navy wife, a Navy widow, a Navy mother and as of this past Sunday, the woman who saved the life of a suicidal veteran.

Yes. She did that.

David, Husband Goose, Murriel and Kevin

David, Husband Goose, Murriel and Kevin

Murriel grew up in Cleveland County, Mississippi through the 1950’s and into the ’60’s. There were thirteen children in her family — she was the seventh of the bunch. Her family worked a farm — picking cotton by hand was still the way to make a living in those times. The summers were hot and the kids all enjoyed a dip in the pond when their work was done. Her aunties lived in town and had good plumbing for taking showers so Murriel and her sisters would go to visit them often.

She married her childhood friend, Bobby Jenkins, just before he left for Navy boot camp. When he came home on leave from southeast Asia in 1968, she presented him with his newborn son. The sailor returned to duty in Vietnam, and then tragedy came in the form of Navy officers and a chaplain at her door with the terrible news that her husband had made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Murriel held her newborn daughter and her toddler son and cried.

By that time, she had moved to Chicago with other sisters and brothers. Her sailor husband was buried in the church cemetery in Cleveland County.

Life goes on, and she was able to pick up the pieces. She eventually remarried — a Navy veteran actually — and worked as a registered nurse and raised her family. She had another son, and the two sons grew up to be sailors as well. The older of the two was serving in October 2000 at the time of the suicide bombing of the USS Cole and was part of the rescue team for that horrible tragedy when seventeen American sailors lost their lives and an additional 39 were injured.

Because of the horror of that rescue operation, Murriel’s son was hospitalized in a catatonic condition in the hospital for seven months. His mother sat by his side, praying for his own healing and recovery. Today he is fine and works as an inventory manager in a large grocery store chain. Murriel is very proud of all of her children, but this one checks up on her most often, protecting her and defending her against any and all harm that may befall her.

Murriel’s heart is all about helping the veterans, and she volunteers her time at our Easter Seals office every week. She is active in her church, New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, in Chicago. She cares for heroin babies and advocates for them in the court system. She checks in on veterans who are living in church-sponsored apartments in the neighborhood.

And here’s the bottom line of this story:

This past Sunday, Murriel was checking in on one of the vets. She visits often but he seldom opens his door — many of the vets prefer to be left alone with their problems and their PTSD, but Murriel knows how important it is to keep checking on them. His door was unlocked so she walked into the apartment, searching the rooms for this troubled man.

She found him sitting in a chair in his room with the barrel of a handgun in his mouth.

“No!” she screamed and rushed at him.

Murriel walks with a cane because her knee is bad, but she still managed to get to the man and pull the loaded gun out of his mouth. The barrel was actually pointed directly at her when he finally took his finger off the trigger. She wrestled it away from the poor hopeless man, screaming the whole time. “Stop it, you gotta stop this, put that gun down NOW!”

Other people heard the commotion and came running. Somebody called 9-1-1, and the paramedics arrived. They put the straitjacket on him and took him away to the suicide watch ward of the hospital. Before they closed the door of the ambulance, Murriel got in the last word:

“When you get out of the hospital and you’re feeling better, I’m gonna kill you!”

She’s so precious to Mother Goose — that’s just the kind of friend and Hero she is…

The Perch Party

Mother Goose smiles when a small idea becomes a BIG production!

It is a fact of nature that people, plants and animals start out tiny and then grow into miraculous and wonderful living organisms, and it was a fact of life yesterday that a little plan blossomed into a wonderful and loving Perch Party.

Knowing that David (a U.S. Marine who has fallen on rough times and has no home) likes perch, the wheels in the feathery head of Mother Goose began to turn. What kind of perch is best to serve? How do I prepare it? Where will I purchase it? And can I even do this, having never cooked fishy things before except those easy and adorable fish sticks from Captain Gorton?

Enter Kevin, my comrade from Easter Seals and a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman. His recommendation was to serve up Lake Perch as fresh as I could possibly muster. Of course, Mother Goose is NOT one to hold a fishing pole, especially in single-digit weather conditions.

However, a quick side note: Brother Goose and his dear wife have done MUCH ice fishing this winter in their really nice camper/ice house. With cousins and friends, they pull their camper out three or four miles onto some GREAT big lakes in nordern Minnesota and set up a little fishing town where they conveniently fish from the comfort of their warm rolling home and watch NASCAR races on the big screen.

But oh my gooseness, I digress…

Mother Goose happily added Kevin to the guest list, knowing that his cooking expertise would be valuable in the preparation of The Perch. And then the wheels turned a little bit more, and Mother Goose remembered her friend, Ms Murriel, who absolutely LOVES to cook for people and lives to see the happy faces of folks who have eaten more than their fill of a good dinner.

Mother Goose invited Ms Murriel who immediately offered to bake a lemon meringue pie. Everybody KNOWS how much Mother Goose loves pie…

All of the puzzle pieces for the Perch Party were in place — fish bought and breaded, spaghetti water boiling, salad tossed, pie chillin’ and we ladies chatting in the kitchen, waiting for the gentlemen to arrive when all of a sudden the phone of Mother Goose rang! I missed the call, but there was a voicemail from David saying that he was having phone problems, trying to reach Kevin, and would be on his way to meet him there.

But we didn’t know where “there” was, and we could not figure out where David was and would Kevin please find this man and please deliver him to the Perch Party SOMEHOW.

And Kevin did. Kevin always rescues somebody — he is one of my most special heroes, and you can go read more about him by clicking here…

Oh the food was delicious! If anyone ever asks, Lake Perch is about a thousand times better than ocean perch which is why Mother Goose capitalized it. And the meatballs and sauce prepared by Husband Goose — mmmmm, he’s got that recipe down just fine. And the bottle of German wine that Kevin provided was the perfect complement to the dinner. And I don’t even need to tell you how Mother Goose swooned at the first mouthful of lemon meringue pie…

But, my dear and loyal readers, what set this Perch Party apart and above and beyond all normal meals was the delightful and thought-provoking conversation and loving fellowship around the table. Sometimes the food can be tasty, the music playing softly in the background, the candles lit and glowing brightly, but the dinner falls flat because there is no love.

We enjoyed an abundance of love at our Perch Party. The Lord lavished His grace on us, and our conversations were sprinkled with the sweetest words of wisdom and kindness. There was much laughing and a little teasing and a heart-felt camaraderie amongst us.

Can a goose get anymore grateful?

Thank you for coming to The Perch Party of Mother Goose…

Brother David, Husband Goose, Ms Murriel and dear Kevin.

Brother David, Husband Goose, Ms Murriel and dear Kevin.

Little by Little, Lawrence’s Life is Looking Up

Mother Goose wanted to update her dearest and most caring readers on the improving life conditions of her friend, Lawrence Little. You may remember that Lawrence has been living on the streets of Chicago off and on for more than a year…sleeping on the “L” and begging door-to-door for money for food and whatever.

He has now found temporary housing in an apartment building about two miles from the Goose residence — another resident is unofficially subsidizing his rent until he gets things together a little better. THAT is very good news!

Last Thursday evening, there was a great deal of urgent knocking on our front door around about the time when Mother Goose is washing up the dishes and helping the little ones with their homework. Husband Goose answered the door to discover an extremely OVERJOYED Lawrence standing at the threshold.

“Where’s Ms Natalie? Is she here? I’ve just gotta tell her my good news!” I heard him coming down the hall towards the kitchen.

“Lawrence? Is that you?”

“Ms Natalie, I got a job! I got a job! I start tomorrow! I got a job!”

One of the most charming traits of dear Lawrence is his unspoiled and pure view of life. Despite years of hard living and imminent danger and uncertainty, he maintains a precious and hopeful outlook on life. Only the Lord knows the troubles he’s seen, and yet he literally shouts for joy when life takes a turn for the better.

As it turned out, he was indeed starting a job the next day at the Costco warehouse in the city. The only challenge was how to get there on time, and Husband Goose graciously offered to buy Lawrence a one-week bus pass so he could get to his new place of employment hassle free.

As we were driving to church on Sunday, Mother Goose spotted Lawrence walking his hip-hop step down the sidewalk in the same direction as we were going. We stopped and picked him up, and sure enough he was heading for church as well. He immediately began to tell us about an incident that had already happened to him that morning. He had seen a guy on the street who owed him money, and asked if the fellow could pay him back. Apparently the guy grabbed Lawrence around the neck and shook him like a rag doll, and swearing at him, vowed no, he wasn’t going to pay him back that morning…

Lawrence was pretty upset about that, and frustrated with himself for fighting back with the guy. But by the time we arrived at the theater for church, he seemed better. He eagerly told many of his friends there about his new job at Costco. He also began asking folks for help getting a bus pass for the second week of work as we wouldn’t be paid until he had worked for two weeks.

He sat with us for worship, and the heart of Mother Goose was broken for this man, a brother in the Lord, as he prayed and cried out to God and wept for deep thanksgiving and joy that he had found work. I passed him a hand full of tissues and hugged him with all of my feathery might, to comfort him and make him know that he is indeed loved and respected and cherished.

Later on that evening, Lawrence stopped by as we were just sitting down to a light supper. He asked for hot chocolate and in fact, drank two mugs before he left. He also enjoyed an Italian sausage, but preferred not to take any mashed taters or broccoli — of course, Mother Goose chided him a little for not eating his veggies. As he ate, he doodled and talked happily about how excited he is about his new job. He had completed orientation and would begin the actual work the next day.

Costco

He is such a joy to be around!

Please pray that this work will fill him with purpose and hope. Please pray that he will make it to work on time everyday. Please pray that we can continue to support him in whatever way the Lord would direct.

Praise God for a man like Lawrence who has taught us so much about life and love.

The Church Welcomed Lawrence Little

free church

Lo! and Behold! The Goose family arrived at Free Church (an inter-denominational church meeting at the Lake Theater in Oak Park at 9:00 on Sunday mornings for fellowship and worship), and our friend, Lawrence Little, was greeted by several people. Indeed he had visited our church on several occasions and knew many of the regular attendees.

“Hey, how are you, Lawrence?” “Good to see you!” “How have you been?” “So glad that you’re here this morning!” They are a friendly and caring group of individuals.

Lawrence stuck close to my side as we walked through the pre-worship crowd in the lobby of the movie theater. He seemed wary and edgy. I was reminded of a puppy in an unfamiliar environment although it was plain that he had been here often. His eyes darted around as though he was looking for someone or something.

“Would you like some hot chocolate, Lawrence?” Mother Goose asked.

“Oh no thank you. I’m fine. Natalie, will you please talk with Chuck about maybe he can help me?”

“Yes, of course, I will,” and I looked around for our pastor. He was busily working his way through the lobby and chatting with people and heading for the auditorium.

“Good morning, Chuck,” I said. “We’ve brought our friend, Lawrence, this morning. Will you be able to talk with him?”

“Of course,” he answered. “Let’s meet right here after the service.” And he smiled and walked off towards the auditorium, announcing to us all that we were ready to go in now and the service would be starting very soon.

Mother Goose turned to Lawrence. “See?” I looked into his eyes. “Chuck can meet us afterwards and we’ll talk about Safe Haven and helping you out.”

We walked into Theater 7, greeting friends as we entered. We sat near the front as we always do, close to the band. The music started as we were removing our coats, scarves and hats. For the first time in my life, I saw Lawrence without his many jackets on. He was so much thinner than I would have imagined. I would even call him scrawny. I wondered if he wore the many large coats to make himself look bigger and more formidable as he lived and moved about on the streets…

We sang some beautiful songs to the Lord and heard a really good message about love and marriage. I looked over at Lawrence and smiled. I tried not to look too intently at him, but Lawrence seemed genuinely moved and praying passionately.

I was truly happy that he was there with us. I felt very protective of him. I felt like I was his sponsor (if there is such a thing). Though other people recognized him and had greeted him, only one woman had actually hugged him and stopped walking just to chat with him and follow up with him. She asked if he had found work, and if he had found housing. She really seemed to care if he had made the phone calls that she had suggested to him. She smiled at him and treated him as a brother.

Other people just walked on by.

One man stopped to listen to our chatting with Lawrence about heading downtown to Safe Haven. Apparently, they could not accept “walk ins” and he would need a referral from another place in order to be put on their waiting list for housing. Apparently, their office was not open on Sunday. Apparently, there was nothing that Mother Goose could do to help.

“Lawrence,” I said. “We are going to have to go home and get lunch for the kids. Pastor Chuck will be here to help you in just a few minutes. Is it OK if we leave you with this man for now?”

“Oh yes,” he said, nodding and with a small smile. “Thank you, Ms Natalie.”

The next day, Lawrence came back to our home for more hot chocolate and a visit with Husband Goose. You’ll want to come back to hear the rest of the story, right?

Lawrence Little Joins Us Around the Table

After our homeless friend, Lawrence Little, finished shoveling, Husband Goose invited him in for some hot chocolate. Lawrence was grateful! We offered him something to eat also, but he had already eaten his dinner. So we sat around the kitchen table visiting about this and that.

hotchocolate

Lawrence Little has family in the area, brothers and sisters, but they are not closely in touch with one another. His dear mother lives in Vance, Mississippi, but he couldn’t remember the last time he saw her. His father left the family when Lawrence was just five. He has only two memories of his father — one memory was of his father beating up his mother. He wistfully mentioned that someday it’d be nice to get a bus fare to go and see her…

We talked a lot about God. We talked about Lawrence’s faith — that even though he is homeless and the days are hard and the nights are dangerous and the winter is cold, God is still good and God is always with him.

He told a story about a lady he met who didn’t believe much in God or His love. “Where’s your God?” she asked. Lawrence pointed to the grass, to the sky, to the trees, to people walking around, to cars driving by. “My God is alive and He’s all around me,” he explained to the lady. “If not for my God, I would be under the ground and not be seeing all that is around me.”

Wanting to prove God’s existence even further, Lawrence began to audibly pray that someone on the street would ask him to shovel right there in front of the unbelieving lady. Up walked a man who said that he’d pay Lawrence $60 to shovel his front and back sidewalks and driveway! The lady’s eyes got big and round as she witnessed an answer to Lawrence’s prayer right then and there.

After finishing his hot chocolate, Lawrence asked what time it was and proceeded to hug us all goodbye. We told him that we hoped we would see him in Free Church the very next day…

Did Lawrence meet us at church? Will he find shelter and a hot meal somewhere down the road? Is there real hope for chronically homeless people like Lawrence?

Please come back next time to hear the REST of the story…

The Return of Lawrence Little

The earth circles around the sun, and a homeless man reappears on the doorstep of Mother Goose.

So many of my most astute and loyal readers will remember my three-part series last year regarding Lawrence Little, a homeless man of God who came into my life and forever changed my view of homelessness in America. Go ahead and click here if you’d like to review that story…

Mother Goose has been referring to 2014 as The Year of Miracles, and I’ve been privately documenting miracles, “coincidences”, and random happenstance circumstances since Thanksgiving. Maybe THAT’s why Mother Goose hasn’t had time to write stories for my adoring public!

Anyway, I would certainly consider this “chance” meeting as one of my miracles…

Winter at our house...

Winter at our house…

The Land of Oak Park has received an enormous amount of snow this winter, and the polar vortex has moved into our village to stay. Often, I will finish my inside-the-house-chores in the evening and then don my warm jacket, boots, hats, scarves and gloves and mittens to go out to attend to the daily snowfall.

Last night was no different — I had just begun to sweep the soft fluffy flakes off of my porch when I heard a voice calling out, “Hello, ma’am!” Out of my peripheral goose eye, I noticed a bundled up man walking along the sidewalk. I greeted him with a “hello” but certainly did not want to engage in night-time conversation with a stranger so I didn’t look at him…

I continued with my frenzied sweeping of the downy flakes of snow as though it was the only thing that mattered.

And when I looked up from my focused and serious work, the man was walking towards me and my porch, and I looked full on into his face for the first time — in about a year.

“Ma’am, it’s me, Lawrence Little. Your grandfather’s name is Lawrence, I know it is. Ma’am, could I do your shoveling for you? I’ve been living on the streets and it’s been a horrible winter, and I could do this work for you…”

As he walked closer into the porchlight, I did indeed recognize him. We shook hands warmly and smiled at each other. Yes, indeed, it was my dear homeless friend, Lawrence.

Of course, Mother Goose can never say “no” to Lawrence, never could, never will. I handed him the snow shovel and went inside to ask Husband Goose for $20. “Lawrence Little is here,” I honked excitedly. “He’s going to shovel for us!”

Handing the cash to Lawrence, we began to catch up with our lives over the past year. He’s still living on the streets, sleeping on the “L” at night — the elevated train that transports commuters and travelers over 100 miles of track in, on, under and over the city of Chicago. It’s a dangerous place to sleep, especially if you are a kind-hearted, harmless, homeless, and rather short-statured man as Lawrence is.

I asked him about his church, Life of Liberty Worship Center. He said yes, he’s still going there now and then. He asked me if I had found a church home yet, and I gladly reported that we were attending a church that meets at the Lake Street Theatre in Oak Park.

“Oh FREE CHURCH!” Lawrence knew immediately who I was talking about. “I know the Pastor there. His name is Chuck, and his wife is very tall and beautiful.”

“Urshanna,” I helped him with our pastor’s wife’s lovely and unusual name.

“Yes, and I was walking past the laundromat, and the Lord told me to go inside, and they were wearing red T-shirts and she offered to pay for my laundry. I laughed and said ‘Well, I don’t have any laundry, only the clothes I’m wearing’ and they were very kind and she called her husband and he came to the laundromat and gave me money so I could stay in a hotel.”

He continued to tell me how he sometimes attends worship and though I’ve never seen him there, he knew all the details of our church service and the names of other brothers and sisters there.

What an amazing miracle!

Please stay tuned for my next story about Lawrence Little — we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate together at the kitchen table. Yes indeed we did.

The Faithful Friend of a Goose

Once again, Mother Goose must honk the praises of a very fine feathered friend. Michelle has been interested in me for such a long time — it’s almost scary to think about the years that have passed! When our middle children (Ben and Ellie) still had their long curly blonde baby hair, Michelle and I became BFF’s, and that was long before BFF’s were as common as they are nowadays.

Michelle and Mother Goose

She’s an incredible woman (as are all of the people who would consider a lifelong commitment to a goose), and she’s precious in so many ways. Let me count the ways right now, whilst I’m thinking of them:

1. Michelle is kind and thoughtful. She has helped me to pack up my kitchen more than once when I was moving. She has brought our family more meals than I can count and baked us more muffins than there are stars in the heavens. She writes me letters and sends them through the mail. She always remembers to ask about each of my goslings even though they are numerous.

2. Michelle is faithful. I know that Michelle is praying for Mother Goose. Perhaps she has even prayed life into me when I was feeling as droopy as a ragdoll. Her conversational prayers are not showy and all high-falutin’ and fancy like some churchy people — she talks to God wherever she is. She knows that He’s there too so we might as well talk to Him. Her husband was unemployed for more than a year, and Michelle never stopped believing that he’d get called back to his airplane mechanic job at United Airlines. Guess what? That’s where he is now!

3. Michelle is generous. Whenever I visit her, she gives! She gives hugs like they are going out of style. She gives whatever’s in her fridge or pantry. She gives little scraps of wisdom that she finds and saves just for me. She gives blankets, Fisher-Price kitchen sets, smiles and heart-to-hearts.

4. Michelle is brave. For as long as I’ve known her, Michelle has had ongoing troubles with bipolar disorder and needs to take various medications to stay stable. And like Mother Goose, she has a multiple sclerosis diagnosis on a medical chart somewhere in some neurologist’s office. Her migraine headaches are relentless in their attack, and sometimes her hands tremble. But does she ever complain about these ailments? No. Never. Not once. She takes it all in stride, trusting that tomorrow will be better.

If Mother Goose was to identify Michelle as a certain type of bird, I would call her a Purple Finch. She’s lovely and sociable with such a pretty song to sing. When we were neighbors in Carol Stream, I would enjoy hours of listening pleasure with the finches AND with Michelle. I pray all sorts of blessings on her today and everyday!

My finch of a friend, Michelle.

In the Sweet By and By

Words and platitudes fall horribly short when a friend dies.

Zane Stotesbury USN was one of Erik and Adam’s best friends in Charleston, training alongside them in the U.S. Navy’s “nuke” program. He was a grand fisherman, and they spent endless fantastic hours in his canoe catching crabs, eels and an occasional fish on the swampy lakes and rivers near Goose Creek.

Rest in peace, sailor.

They told me last night that he died in New York yesterday as a result of a motorcycle accident. He had moved to upstate New York as part of the third phase of “nuke” training — my boys will most likely also go there in a couple of weeks.

I sat outside this morning at dawn, listening to birdsongs in the trees. There were so many melodies to hear — my ear had to sift through the tweets and chirps and whistling to try and follow one particular song. Like they say, it was a cacophony of bird music. There were also air conditioners running and airplanes flying over my head, police sirens wailing, and firetrucks honking their horns. It was an effort of the ear to find the peaceful melody I was searching for. It was so difficult to discern the beauty amidst the noise.

I think that’s how it is when someone we care about is suddenly gone, like Stotesbury. We want so bad to know “why” and we don’t understand how this is even remotely part of God’s good and loving plan. He died one month before turning twenty-one — he was shining in Navy whites, and his folks were standing tall and proud of his great accomplishments already. I looked at his facebook page and saw him posing with some GIANT fish out on the Pacific Ocean.

Platitudes just don’t cut it when your heart is ripped out of your chest, your brain is on overload with memories and your hope is smashed all over the highway in upstate New York.

It doesn’t make sense, and it never will.

It’s just sad. Pure sad. Pitch black sad.

Please pray for the family and friends of Zane Stotesbury in the days and weeks to come. God bless you.

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

Refrain:
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 63,616 honks to date

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