Tuesday, February 18, 2014

With Happy Thanks for Dorothy

George and Dorothy, many years ago

A dear old friend of ours, Dorothy Waterhouse Smoker, passed away in January and I'd like to honor her memory here.  Dorothy was 97 when she passed and I hadn't seen her in many, many years.  Still, my memories of her are close and vital.

"Uncle George" and "Aunt Dorothy" worked in Tanzania from 1943-1970 but Byron and I met them during their "retirement" to Nairobi in 1984.  I say "retirement" because, after ten years back in the US, George and Dorothy relocated themselves to Africa to continue serving as extremely helpful volunteers living on their retirement income.

Picture this: Byron and Lisa are 25 and 22 while George and Dorothy are both about 67. We made an unlikely but fabulous foursome :)

Let me tell you why...

Byron and I were newly arrived in Nairobi.  The organization we had come with was undergoing traumas and dramas and we were left to find our own way forward.  George and Dorothy had decades of experience to draw on and tons of love and care to give.  They lived around the corner from us and took us under their wings.  We would bomb around Nairobi in their tiny car, laughing and soaking up their wisdom, sense of wonder and guidance.  We had about three months as neighbors before we transitioned to a new organization "up country."

One evening, when we were back in Nairobi, we popped round to say hello and found them in the throes of leaving for the airport.  George's health had suddenly taken a very serious turn and doctors were recommending their immediate return to the States.  After all the help they had been to us in our first few confusing months in Kenya, we were thankful to be able to help them close their bags and get off to the airport.  Cleaning up their little place before handing the key over to their landlord the next day was a small thing we could do for them that eased their minds as they hurried away.

Uncle George's condition was serious and he passed away not long after their return to California.  To this day, we quote George when we get into a conversation with someone about giving or not giving to beggars, how to make better compressed soil bricks and mortar, or how easy it is to make peanut butter.  And I had just quoted some of Dorothy's bush medicine advice the day before I heard she was gone.

Thirty years ago, George and Dorothy offered us friendship, counsel, laughter, wisdom, prayer and insight.  Our window of time as neighbors was short but it has impacted the whole of our lives.  We are two of the MANY who were blessed by them.


Mama Mpira said...

We remember how much you talked about them and how special they were. What a lovely tribute you have written.

Anonymous said...

Oh Honey, that is so sweet. Just like our God to give you Parents and Grandparents in a strange new land to help you through the bewilderment.
I just read yesterday about the value of Old people. It isn't in what they will still accomplish, but it is in the reservoir of their past life and how they lived through the good and bad times that added to their character and worth.
Dad and I want to be like George and Dorothy.

lisa said...

Mum, you and Dad already ARE like George and Dorothy to so many people around you. Though you're in your 80s, you don't seem the least bit like "Old People" quite yet. But it's true that the reservoir of what you know and have experienced thus far is rich and deep. xo

Nelly said...

This was lovely, Lisa. What was George's quote about whether or not to give to beggars?

Maureen Hurst said...

Oh my, Nelly! What you wrote is exactly, word for word, what I was just about to write. :) You know, "great minds" and such... but yes. What was George's quote, Lisa? (Maybe you should write a book of wise words and kind exchanges from your life abroad...). Love you xo