It’s been a dark week, and not just because daylight saving time ended.
The shootings at Fort Hood. A fired employee mowing down ex-colleagues in Orlando. A police officer killed, another injured, in Seattle. Three killers, three festering abscesses of resentment, have hijacked the news that helps form our view of the world.
The tragedy of the perception, and the blessing of the reality, is that they are aberrations.
We have local proof from one retiree, two schoolgirls and a stealth quilter.
WARM LITTLE HEADS
This week, June Wickre sent her 1,000th baby bonnet to Franciscan Health System’s Maternity Support Services. Thanks to Wickre, many babies born into difficult circumstances have had the assurance of a warm noggin.
Wickre, too, was born into tough times, on a farm in Wallowa, Ore., in 1920.
“There’s lots of hard work on a farm,” she said, sitting in her home at Point Defiance Village.
She says “work” as if it’s a good thing, something that keeps a person young and engaged.
“I can’t stand to be idle,” she said. “I’m moving all the time. That’s probably why I’ve lived to this age.”
She worked as a secretary and raised three children. Her husband, Gordon, after serving on a mine sweeper in World War II, worked as a Boeing engineer. They’ve traveled, lived aboard a boat in Seattle and stayed active in First Lutheran Church.
That’s where she answered Barbie Stockstad’s request for hand-made baby bonnets 10 years ago.
The congregation pays for most of the baby yarn Wickre uses. Stockstad, who works with the moms through Franciscan, explains the bonnets to the new mothers.
“I tell them this is something made with love,” Stockstad said. “A woman they don’t even know has made this for them.”
It’s a powerful message, she said, especially to moms who feel no one cares for them.
Wickre does the work with love for the babies, and the moms. And yes, for herself.
“I’ve seen what happens to the women who sit and watch TV and complain,” she said. “It’s a lot more fun to be happy and busy than to be crabby and feeling sorry for yourself.”
Maya Hodder and Brooke Croissant have learned lessons about giving early in life.
The girls, who are in fourth grade at Harbor Heights Elementary School in Gig Harbor, share October birthdays.
“They both turned 10 and decided to have a combined Halloween costume/birthday party and invited the whole class,” said Maya’s mom, Stacy Hodder. “On their invitation, they indicated ‘No gifts. Tacoma Rescue Mission Charity Fund.’”
“My mom is always telling me. ‘You have to be nice to the world.’” Maya said. “So I was thinking of all the people who couldn’t have homes or anything to eat for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Me and my friend decided to help the people for Thanksgiving and give them food.”
Every child in the class came to the party, which raised $420.
Maya, by the way, was an Eskimo. Brooke was a dead bride.
Feeding hundreds of people feels so good, Maya said, that her little sister is considering doing the same for her birthday in December.
“We might want it to run through our whole family,” Maya said. “So we can help the world.”
PAINTING A ROOM
A group of local volunteers is focusing on one room today. The volunteers are painting the women’s dorm at the Tacoma Avenue Shelter with director Jim Anderson.
On Thursday, a load of 22 new, twin-size, hand-made quilts arrived at The News Tribune, one for each of the 22 beds in the dorm. (There aren’t enough beds in the dorm. Anderson said 35 to 38 women sleep there on any night.)
There was a note with the quilts, inviting the work crew to have a ball with the painting. The note was not signed. The person who dropped them off refused to give the receptionist her name.
It was an act of grace, and a considerable investment in fabric, by a woman with curly red hair.
In a week contaminated by evil, we can thank June Wickre, Maya Hodder, Brooke Croissant and an anonymous quilter for more than the work of their hands and hearts. They have assured us that good is the norm, and generosity is the spirit in this community.
Kathleen Merryman: 253-597-8677