I grew up attending a little Mennonite church in a little town. Sallie Schaeffer, Florence Graff, and Sallie Balthazer were three old ladies from town who were not members but attended our services every Sunday. I have good memories of each of them.
Sallie Schaeffer lived just down the street, within sight of the church, and for years was our self-appointed janitor. She cleaned the building, mowed the grass, turned on the heat, and generally watched over the place. I have a big old antique mirror in my bedroom which used to hang inside her front door. She always had bunches of dried Money Plant at the top of the mirror. I also have some Mountain Pinks which came from the rock garden behind her house. I thought of Sallie this week when I was weeding my rock garden.
Florence Graff (she used the German spelling of Groff) lived down the street on the opposite side of the church. I remember going to her house for a Sunday dinner. That was the first time I had mashed potato filling which is a Berks County PA Dutch specialty. I have made it many times since.
Sallie Balthazer lived across the street from the church. She was the oldest of the three ladies. Her hands were crippled by arthritis. With her thick PA German accent she used to moan, "Ach, I have the arseritis so." It's been a long time coming, but since I started having pain in my hands a couple weeks ago I am finally beginning to realize how much she suffered. My fingers aren't crooked like hers were but I'm already saying, "Ach, I have the arseritis so."
Those three old ladies are long gone but their fingerprints are on my life. And (can it be??)now I'm one of the old PA Dutch Berks County ladies.