“Mama, Mama,” the little girl screamed as she went running into the house. “Mr. Stark just drove by and waved at me.”
Little did this little girl know at the time (circa 1940) that the sprawling piece of property that Mr. Lutcher Stark owned, Shangri La Botanical Gardens, Orange, Texas, would one day be instrumental in helping save her life from the depths of a deep depression.
May I pause in this story and say that I (Martha) am a freelance writer for The Orange Leader in Orange. I am often given assignments to interview volunteers in our community who help make it a better place to live. This is the way I met Marlene Huckaby.
And now, I would like for you to meet Marlene, the little girl in the story. Marlene is now a petite, spry eighty-four old, mother of three, grandmother of seven, great-grandmother of eighteen, who has been a volunteer one day a week at Shangri La Gardens since 2007.
After the death of her husband in 2006, Marlene tells how she fell into a deep depression. At the urging of her children who often said to her, “Mama, you need to find something to do,” began volunteering at Shangri La, starting out in the Green House planting flowers. “It saved my life. It got me back on my feet from the depression I had fallen into,” added Marlene.
Visitors strolling through the Gardens today are able to enjoy some of the flowers that Marlene help plant during that dark period of her life back in 2007. They also might personally meet her as she tells the story of the late Mr. Stark and shows the movie about Shangri La’s history that dates back to 1937. Yes, its history goes back to around the time Marlene was that little girl waving at him as he passed down the dirt road where she lived.
As much as Marlene enjoys the people and her work at Shangri La, she pointed out that there are other parts of her life that keep her going also. She noted that she is very active in her church, First Baptist Church of Mauriceville, Texas, where she teaches a ladies’ Bible Study class and is involved in the Senior Citizen Group.
In addition to her church work, she feels especially grateful that all three of her children live near by and keep her busy, as well as keep a watchful eye on her. “I am blessed,” she repeatedly stated. “I try not to complain.”
When I asked her what she would say to others who might find themselves in her position in their life, namely a depression from a loss, as well as aging, she didn’t hesitate to respond to my question.
Find something to do if you are physically able. I like my house, but it is not my life. Volunteering at Shangri La is great, but it is second to church. In my position, the best thing a person can do is find the Lord, and I believe that is the most important thing. For me, my priorities are family first, church second and volunteering third. These three together will help you have an active life, but also help you make friends who can help you in need, plus you can help them when they are in need.
As I was driving away from Marlene’s home after my interview was complete, I caught a glimpse of her bending over her flower beds pulling out the weeds. (Yeah, bending over at 84! I thought, “I can’t even do that at ----.”
Oh, never mind my age; that is not important for the point I wish to conclude this post with, as my thoughts turned to how Marlene relates to the vision of Created Woman: to power and equip women to become all that God created them to be, both inside & out.
Marlene is a perfect example of, shall we say, “still becoming all God created her to be.” Age has no barriers in God’s plans for us.
Oh, how I want to be like Marlene in my golden years.
[title subtitle="You're Invited"][/title]