Dolores, Like The River

In the fall of 1977, I attended a Bible study at the home of Dolores and Trevor Gross. When I met Dolores, I asked her how she spelled her name. With great delight she informed me, “D-o-l-o-r-e-s, like the river in Southern Colorado.” She said most people do not ask, and it annoyed her to get a card or letter with her name misspelled. Although everyone called her Del or Dolores, to her husband of forty years she was known as “Rosebud.”

During that evening Dolores served her guests pieces of decadent cake called “Double Death Chocolate.” If it was the master builder’s plan to construct relationship between me and this dear little (5 foot nothing) lady through my stomach, it worked. She did nothing to conceal her joy at my unladylike gobbling of more than one piece of her culinary offering. And I did not think twice before accepting an invitation to dinner the following Sunday.

Over the next few years, I spent hours in Dolores’ kitchen and was blessed to be a frequent dinner guest. Perhaps it was the food that attracted me to my new friend, but it was her company that retained me in that friendship. One of her great gifts was hospitality. I was mesmerized by this confident, vibrant woman who moved through her house and attended her guests with ease and a sense of self worth I personally had never known. I found her irresistible.

It was during one of our meals together, I opened up to Dolores about my loneliness and desire for a husband and children. Although my generation blazed a trail encouraging women to break from traditional roles of wife and mother (if they so chose), there was part of me that still saw my worth defined by the loving husband, little family, white picket fence, and station wagon dream.

Dolores listened with respect and without judgment. She told me that my worth will always come from being a child of God. She encouraged me to be patient, pray and wait on the Lord’s will. She tried to convince me that being desperate for the things the world offered to define a woman could lead to disaster.  I chose not to take this advice and embarked on a course I felt would silence the relentless ticking of my biological clock.  She was right, however, and yielding to world pressures authored a mismatch in marriage and a devastating divorce 10 years later.

I sat once again at her kitchen table, now with my beloved small child asleep in the next room.  I poured out tears of shame and regret, laced with self pity.  I expected an “I told you so” response.  But instead, I found a woman not afraid to stand with me in the pain. She cried too and assured me she loved me, and God loved me more than ever.  Dolores’s soothing words provided the balm I needed to begin forgiving myself and my ex-spouse.

In this familiar space, we were surrounded by the fragrance of rosebuds and soothed by cups of hot herb tea. It was here that God, Dolores (like the river), and I set about putting my shattered life back together.

Copyright June 2011
llpadgett
Lakewood, CO 80401

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