Some years ago now, I had the privilege of meeting Marnette. It happened when I was managing a hotel and she was going to be the tour guide bringing a busload of guests. Through the several phone calls back and forth to cement the contract and rooming list, we became fast friends. On the day that the bus was due to arrive, she called me with an ETA for the group and I told her that I hoped she didn’t mind, but I had upgraded her to one of the few suites on our property. When she said that wasn’t necessary, I simply replied, “Every woman needs someone in their lives to treat them like a princess, and I’m that woman in your life.” For a long while, I called her and referred to her as “Princess”, which eventually got cut down to the “Prin” she remains today.
Prin was working for a tour company out of Ohio at the time. I don’t know if she took that job because she already had the traveling bug, or if she developed a traveling bug from the job, but it didn’t take long to learn that her motto was, “Have suitcase, will travel”. Her husband, Gary, is avid about running marathons, so she was off with him to whatever place he was going for one, always including at least one overnight stay. And before and after the actual race, she’d be off site-seeing, studying the architecture, the art and the culture of the area, snapping photos and posting them on Facebook. She also took the time to type in what each photo was, so those of us who saw the posts got an education while simultaneously virtually traveling with her!
When she decided it was time to think about retirement, she chose to ‘semi’ retire; she truly loved her job and her boss, but her husband, who had retired already, was ready for her to be free of the obligation so they could spend more time in their “happy place” – a motorhome located in Hilton Head. While she was semi-retired, she decided that she wanted to expand her study of our world in other countries. Well, after all, “Have suitcase, will travel!” And off she went – Ireland and China are two places I can think of off the top of my head because she sent me trinkets from those trips. And in between times, she got her husband to go on a cruise with her and he found that he enjoyed that type of travel, so cruises were added to the itinerary.
I can only begin to explain all of this gal’s travels. In my deepest wishes, I wish that she’d convert her photos, the accompanying information about each photo, and her experiences into a book. It would make a great coffee table book for anyone, and for those of us who have had the privilege to travel vicariously through her to all of these places, a priceless sentiment.
But that’s not the tale I want to tell, merely the background to it. Just before Christmas, I received a package from Marnette in the mail. I suspected that it might contain another craft she’d made and wanted to gift to me, so I stuck it under the tree to be opened with other gifts. Since I’m the host for Christmas, I always make sure everyone else opens their gifts first, for selfish reasons. I don’t like having any attention on me always, but even more, I get that “joy” experience if a gift I chose was well-received. When it was my turn, I saved this box for last, wanting to “oh” and “ah” over the gifts from the people who were here first.
And then, I opened it. It was not a craft. It was, according to the accompanying note, some of her cherished belongings, many of them from her various travels. She and her hubby had decided to sell their home in Ohio since they live in Hilton Head except when they are traveling. Their motorcoach cannot begin to house all of the things that were in their home in Ohio, and so she had to make some very tough decisions on letting go of things. Now, Marnette will be the first to say, “They’re only things”, but each one connects to one or more of her memories.
Okay, I was stunned. I was speechless. Each new object was unique, and I know the care she would have taken choosing it for herself. For me to be a recipient of so many things was overwhelming. I’ve since lovingly touched each thing multiple times – some are easy to plan what to do with, others a bit more challenging. But I didn’t do anything with them right away. I needed to send a thank-you note, and I looked at the blank notecard I had chosen for many, many days, trying to find the words to express how deeply honored, of all of the friends and family around her, to be chosen for even ONE of these items. Even now, after my feeble attempt to express my joy and gratitude has been sent off (and which I hope she gets before I post this!), I still look at these items astonished and in awe.
I wish I could introduce each and every one of my readers to this incredible person. She has been a totally non-judgmental rock in my life through her friendship and love, and I have no doubt you would all love her immediately as well. She’s just one of “those people” – those rare breed of people we seldom get to meet, much less know, who shows their genuineness for life in every step she takes, and freely shares those steps she takes with others. Her heart is kind and pure, her values top-notch, and I have been blessed – and will continue to be blessed – by being able to call her a true friend. This is the best I can do: