Bill and Pearl were a very special couple.
They were a couple who knew all about the brutality of life. One would never know the harshness of life they had endured unless you were very close to them.
Bill was a quiet unassuming man, who was devoted to his beloved Pearl. Pearl radiated happiness and was a delight to all that knew her. She loved life and constantly counted her blessings and practiced faithfully what she often reminded us, her family and friends — “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Her infectious laugh was so contagious she had me convinced.
Anytime I was in charge of an entertainment event, program, or play, I would suggest she be guided to a seat near the front not far from the stage. Whatever the entertainment might be, and if laughter would be a plus, Pearl would make sure it was a hit. Her cheerfulness would infiltrate the audience and not only would laughter prevail, but also everyone, including the performers felt a jovial feeling.
A few years after we met Bill and Pearl, they experienced a tremendous financial setback which caused them to lose their farm.
There was never a complaint from either of them about their circumstances. Neither of them was in very good health and we were concerned as to what this latest blow could do to them. When my husband and I went to visit them to see what we could do to help, Bill said, “Here is where we are, here is where we have to go, and I guess packing our things is what must be done now.”
Lorin asked, “What about your machinery?” He was determined to be of help, while refusing to show his sadness about the tragedy that had befallen this couple.
Bill’s answer to this question was, “Well, since the farm is no longer ours, we have no use for the machinery, so we can leave it here for the young man who is going to take over. He will need it.” Bill never thought of selling it. His first thought was someone needed it.
One day, while I was helping Pearl pack, there were boxes everywhere and there were piles of throw-a-way, piles to pack, piles to keep and piles for charity. As we worked, I kept thinking of their state of affairs and was on the verge of tears. It hurt so badly to think of my friend having to give up so much — things that they had worked for all their lives. And now, at their age, moving into a small rented home…
I turned to ask her a question and saw this sweet, humble woman sitting in the midst of chaos with a smile on her face. She started to laugh. Her infectious laugh reached out to me and I soon found myself sitting on the floor beside her. Oh, how I was going to miss my friend — this woman had been my confidante, my counselor, my good neighbor and especially my friend.
“Pearl, this is crazy. What are we laughing about? There is nothing funny about packing.”
“Well you know what they say about life don’t you?” The quizzical look on my face was evidence that I had no idea what she was referring to.
She continued, “You know, it is often said that life is a test.”
“Well, yes, I have heard that,” I answered. “But I still don’t understand, what’s so funny?”
She finally stopped laughing and with a sly smile said, “Honey, I just realized I have never been good at tests!”
She taught me that life was good under any circumstances, if I would allow myself to just count my blessings and find joy in laughter.
Pearl and her husband moved nearer to their children and life seemed to be going quite well for them, until a year later when Bill died. As she shared the news with me, my mind raced back to that afternoon sitting on her floor with debris all around us as she reminded me that, “Life was a test.” Her voice told the whole story.
Regardless of how difficult the test was, she had enough faith that would see her through, despite what she had said that day — “Honey, I have never been good at tests.”