Great Hearts

Linda Garber and Dr. Ty Graden will probably never be featured on the Making a Difference segment of the NBC evening news with Brian Williams, but they do just that every single day.

Yesterday morning before Mother’s eye doctor appointment, her pastor’s wife Linda calls. I hear one side of the phone conversation:

“Yes, we’ll be home around noon.”

“Well, you don’t have to do that, but it would be a bright spot in the day. Thank you!’

“How many? It will just be Marian and I.”

“See you around 12:00.”

In pouring down rain, Linda arrives with a hamper full of home-made goodies, and we share a scrumptious lunch, all fresh from her home: potato-zucchini soup, deviled eggs, bread with strawberry jam, cabbage salad, and apple sauce with a jar of M & M’s on the side.


After the meal and pleasant conversation, Linda promptly gets up, helps me carry the dishes to the kitchen and fills the sink with Dawn and hot water to wash the dishes. It’s part of the “gift,” I assume. The Mennonite way.

Earlier I helped Mother wheel her way into Dr. Graden’s office in Elizabethtown, PA for her annual eye exam. She’ll have 20/20 vision with the new prescription, the doctor reasssures her. I remark that I need to get my eyes checked when I get back to Jacksonville. He says, “Well, I’ll can just check your eyes now before you leave.”


I have never met this man before and obviously don’t have an appointment, but I sit on the chair, and Dr. Graden clicks to a different set of letters “in case you memorized the ones I used for your mother,” he chuckles.

The doc is reassuring: “Well, you did pretty well—no cataracts to be concerned with, and you still have 20/20 vision with your glasses.” We leave the office, Mother’s visit filed with insurance and no charge for me.

Good Lancaster County people. Great hearts!


14 thoughts on “Great Hearts

  1. Sounds just like Linda–a unique combination of thrift and munificence, plus she’s fun. Her and Fred’s idea of a vacation is traveling somewhere gloriously far via Amtrack with packed food they can heat up on the train.


  2. Marian – I just came back by way of a Facebook post and I’m glad I did. I can see that I “liked” this post before, but didn’t leave a comment. What on earth was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn’t!

    “Part of the gift. The Mennonite Way.” — I love it! 🙂

    I love to help wash dishes by hand (I despise drying them though). When Len and I extend hospitality, we shoo everyone out afterwards and use the dishwashing time to “dissect” the evening: “I loved her purse!” “Did you see her smile when he said that?” “Can you just imagine?”

    Okay, now that I’ve written it out, I can see that WE, don’t dissect the evening. Rather, Len’s a laundry line for MY thoughts as I sort through and hang them one-by-one 🙂


    1. I love the clothesline metaphor – I may have to steal it from you – ha! It sounds like your relationship with Len is a lot like mine with Cliff: mouth & ear. We simply HAVE to meet some day, Laurie.


      1. Marian – Len quite often feels my back like he’s looking for something and says, “Who put a nickel in you?!” Yes, mouth and ear!

        I would love to meet you in person. We’ll have to work on that 🙂


  3. With that kind of PA hospitality I can just almost imagine if I were up there now that someone would offer to treat me to a hearty meal at Country Table in Mt. Joy or at an old fashioned diner. I can almost taste the chipped beef gravy.

    Kind hearts, caring ears and loving hands, the Pennsylvania way.


    1. Care Bear & Kind Heart, you would appreciate the hospitality all over again. Maybe soon.

      Here is a copy of Laurie’s observation of her husband’s listening ear: Marian – Len quite often feels my back like he’s looking for something and says, “Who put a nickel in you?!” (Yes, mouth and ear! In response to my comment about our relationship too.)


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