Mrs. Edward’s “Little Visits”
Read Time 8 Minutes
People have been getting lost in the forests ever since the land was first settled and far too often, going astray has had a tragic ending. Hunters have gotten lost within earshot of their own home when darkness overtook them and their sense of direction was confused.
Mrs. Edward was a jolly, cheerful woman with dimpled cheeks and twinkling eyes which belied a mischievous, loving character. Her grey hair was done in an “old style bun” held up with large pins. She was known for her kindness, going about her day doing “small things with great love” (Saint Theresa of Calcutta). She frequently visited people in the “little village” and environs; people who could not easily leave their homes.
Mrs. Edward was the sole resident of the former Congregation of Notre Dame convent in the “little village”. Her husband, Edward, a victim of the World War 1 slaughter at Vimy Ridge in 1917, had been a man of reasonable means and had purchased the dwelling before leaving for war. Mrs. Edward loved children but she had none.
Sometime in the month of March in the 1930s she decided to pay a visit to Mairi “Glen” about 5 miles away. Mairi had been feeling poorly and was fairly isolated. A little visit would do her well. She packed up some biscuits and molasses cookies and set off. Traveling on foot her plan was to return before dark and she stopped at her “lights next door” neighbor, Sadie, on her way to let her know when she would be back.
Mairi “Glenn” was delighted to see her. Widowed for about 5 years and with many of her children working in the fancy homes in Boston, she was alone for much of her days. Her one son, nearby, was busy with his farm and forestry work. Over “the tea” and biscuits, they reminisced about years gone by, Morag’s children and life in general in the “little village”.
As the afternoon grew later, there were warm embraces and Mrs. Edward began her return journey. She decided to take a short cut through the woods, found the path and set off in the correct direction. However other roads used by woodcutters working in the area, led off from the main road. By mistake, Mrs. Edward took one of these roads and when it came to a dead end, she became quite confused. With some snow on the ground, she tried to retrace her footsteps but with darkness fast approaching her tracks were now invisible.
When she felt she had walked for miles she came to a tree that had fallen down, climbed onto it and settled herself between some limbs for now she was quite exhausted. She pulled her beads from her pocket and began to pray in earnest for now she fully realized that she was indeed lost. At the end of each decade, she called out as loud as possible, “I’m lost” in hope of a nearby ear. Although there was no reply, she prevailed hoping someone would hear her.
Fortunately, the evening was not too cold but after resting for a short time she began to feel the chill of the lonely night. The thought of having to sit on that tree between two limbs until dawn terrified her.
Meanwhile, Sadie, could see no lights next door. She sent her son, Alex, over to check on Mrs. Edward and when she got the bad news, sent him to Johnnie Ban’s house for reinforcements to begin the search. With lanterns in hand, the little regiment of 5 set forth retracing what would have been her steps.
They spread out in the forest keeping with in hearing distance of each other. “Listen, what is that sound?” the men stopped in their tracks, faintly hearing “I’m lost!” In the stillness of the evening, the acoustics were good and as they were getting closer the victim’s voice became clearer.
They quickened their pace. Johnnie Ban responded, “Mrs. Edward, is that you? Keep answering and we will find you,” he shouted as the men rushed towards the stricken women
She replied, “I’m here and I’m lost!” And burst into joyful tears now knowing someone heard her.
Frothing her hands and wrapping her in a warm coat revived her immensely and the group headed for her home, where Sadie had the lanterns lit, the fire glowing and the soup pot brimming. Everyone was thankful that a tragedy had been averted.
As she embraced sleep that night, Mrs. Edward may have had second thoughts about her “little visits” after this scare. Nevertheless, she continued to visit the sick and lonely in the “little village”. Love reciprocated, saved her own life.
Mrs. Edward, Sadie, Johnnie Ban and his family – none of these people changed the world like Mother Theresa, Ghandi or Martin Luther King, but they made a difference. I often think of Mrs. Edward and her “little visits”. She brought comfort and companionship to so many people. “Little visits” can change the world; one visit at a time; in a home, in the lineup at the grocery store, waiting at an office, on the street with a neighbor, calling someone you haven’t seen for awhile or sending a message or email.
The person standing next to me could be carrying a cross much heavier than mine. Loneliness is pervasive in our society. We can be present, listen, and bring a bit of cheer and joy.
Mrs. Edward lived into her late 80s. She sat behind us in Mass and would frequently hold my baby brother, Timmy. Mrs. Edward changed the world one little visit at a time.
A true story told by Mrs. Edward to my father, with some embellishments to compensate for details lost in time.