In our Sunday class we discussed childhood mentors within the church and how they had impacted our lives. I immediately thought of Miss Eurie, who loved me and encouraged me throughout my growing-up years. (We pronounced her name “you-REE,” and in the South respect demands “Miss” before any woman’s name, married or not.)
I don’t recall how we became so close, but part of it was that she and her husband Elmer were always there. Three services a week, dinners, VBS—whatever was going on, there they were. Since my family was on the same routine and our church on Sunday morning was only about a hundred people, we were together a lot.
Another reason was that she loved to laugh. Children are drawn to people who enjoy life, and Miss Eurie did. They had a tiny, modest home and very little cash, but they were rich in friends, family, and faith. She made witty comments and could see humor in many situations where other adults would frown.
And she talked to me. She didn’t grill me with the typical “How’s school?” type questions. Her questions and comments were real. They dealt with my family, my friends, my activities, my interests in 4-H and academics and earning money in her brother’s strawberry patch. She shared her own life interests with me.
Short, stocky, with a frizzy perm and wire-rimmed glasses, she was nothing like the women I admired in magazines. But her bright brown eyes lit up when I came near, and her sturdy arms were quick to give me a tight hug.
She had no deep spiritual philosophies on which to expound; she did not talk about her faith at all. She just loved me for me and let me know it again and again. Even now I get a warm, joyous feeling when I remember Miss Eurie.
At our church, I’ve followed the growth of Emma and Kayla from when they were newborns, just as Miss Eurie did me. Now that I’ve analyzed what I loved so about Miss Eurie, I have a better idea of how I can be Miss Eurie to Emma and Kayla. I’ll start right now while they are still in elementary school, laughing with them and hugging them and talking with them whenever I can.