The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all [those that be] bowed down.
Psalms, 145: 14. King James Bible
It's easy for the likes of me to write about such as Virginia with a less than gentle brush, but here and now I remember Virginia, not the likes of. Even in my own memory, I'm not a gentle man. Virginia, "earthy" as sophisticated folks might term her, was, in her way, a gentle woman. I remember:
Virginia was tall for her generation, being close on to six feet, and large-boned, as we call it. Even as a young woman her taste in clothing was "grandmotherish," tending toward straw hats strewn with plastic flowers, below the knee smocks, and broken-down shoes. No rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters, she bought plain from them instead. She was a plain lady, plain in her presence, in her directness. She was all that many hope Sarah Palin to be. In that, those hopeful are lost. Virginia was not so.
Virginia would approach me sometimes and tell me the story of her day, of her ailments and of the coming of the end of the world and my need to repent or be damned for eternity. She had Bible verses to match each and any event, occasion, or even none at all. She was a serious woman, sitting like Lincoln, staring sternly at those whose sinfullness she disapproved of, ready at a moment's notice to tell them of Hell and Damnation. She was bold. She was upright. She would belch unblushing. She disapproved of much; but nothing, to my knowledge, embarrassed her. In her faith she would not bow down, not even to social conventions others assume. She was raised up in her faith. One might envy her. She's dead.
Virginia was in many ways a nineteenth century woman. She was ready for the farm and it's hard labour, satisfied with the Bible and her husband, unaffected by the goings on of the greater world. For all her busy-ness regarding other people's souls and salvation, she was intensely private. She extended that privacy to others as well, never concerning herself with the interior lives of those she knew beyond her adamant demands that they repent and follow the prescriptions of the Bible as she understood them. A true democrat, all men were sinners equally, and all deserving of redemption if only. She never had a harsh word for anyone personally, not a judgement of character or being other than the state of their souls. As direct as she might have been, she didn't approach the unwilling or foist herself upon strangers. Having said her piece, she would sit, arms akimbo, a wide stance sitting, and burp loudly.
Virginia had a relatively large circle of friends, the broken among the fallen, whom she tended with deep care. She saw many go to the grave, and she sat with them on their ways out, unblinking, irreversible, unbent. She is raised up by such gentleness.