Monday, November 8, 2010

Marion & Violet

Marion & Violet

On Friday Cheryl and I made a quick trip to Wyoming to visit with an old friend. The trip was short and had a specific focus: to visit with an old friend who has recently been placed in hospice. Our friend is Marion.

Marion and his wife Violet were older members in the congregation in Cody, Wyoming when we moved there to preach in 1990. Cheryl and I were both 30, had two kids, and were a long way from our homes. My parents lived in Tennessee and Cheryl’s in Florida. With two little kids, another one arriving two years later, and living over 40 hours away from family support, we welcomed the nuturing care provided by this couple.

Marion and Violet’s home became our home as well. We were welcomed there at any time for visits and meals. My kids knew where Violet kept the candy.

Marion was an avid hunter, and he taught me some of the skills needed to successfully navigate (and survive) the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Many times we returned to his home after spending hours in below zero weather to a hot pot of stew and coffee that Violet had prepared for us.

But we shared more than just simple fun times. Marion and Violet had decades of wisdom about marriage, surviving health crises, raising children, figuring out problems, and working with churches that they shared with us over the years. And Marion, an old Arkansas boy transplanted to Wyoming, was a storehouse of old-time southern wisdom.

Marion was very big on living with honor and integrity. You did the right thing simply because it was the right thing, not because you hoped for any reward. He shared with me that one of his greatest accomplishments in life was living with integrity in a situation that was stressful to him.

Truth was a big part of his honor and integrity system. He told me, "I used to have employees steal my construction equipment and materials. I didn’t like it, but I understood it. They may have been low on money and needed the tools or wood to work a job on the side. It was wrong to steal from me, but there was a rationale to it. But lying? There is no rationale to lying. It is the same as stealing, except you really don’t get anything for it. If you steal from me and get caught, you can give back what you stole. But if you lie to me or about me, how does that benefit you? And if you are caught, what can you return to make restitution or repair the relationship? Lying is just stupid and wrong. You can understand a thief; but a liar you can never trust again."

One more thing: Marion honored Violet. They had been married for 40 years or more when I first met them. Together they had raised two children and had four grandchildren. They survived health problems, financial stresses, church leadership pressures, and two major moves. In their 60s they moved miles from their home to spend their later years enjoying the mountains together and helping a small church. And through it all, they remained best friends. During our long drives over mountains and through valleys exploring the wonders of the Rocky Mountains, Marion and I would talk about life. And when the subject of marriage or wives came up, Marion always talked about Violet in appreciative terms, and praised her. Violet went to be with the Lord on Nov. 7, 2008. To the end, after 60+ years of marriage, they remained best friends.

Cheryl and I drove to Wyoming on Friday to visit with Marion. Gathered around him was his daughter, her son and daughter-in-law, his son and his wife, and numerous friends from his church. He was receiving the honor due a man who spent his life living with Christian character and living for his family, friends and church.

Our trip was short. We had to leave on Saturday. But I drove off thinking, "I hope my life counts for something worthwhile, like Marion’s has." We pay tribute to a good person when we sit by his/her side and ask, "Do you remember when ...?" But we pay even greater tribute when we try to emulate their lives.

Warren Baldwin


Anonymous said...

Marion and Violet are as special as people come, we are truely blessed to have had them in our lives! Warren you explained them perfectly, those were the good old days. Mindy


What a precious post to honor those who were so good to you years ago! Those are the faithful that we follow!

Blessings, Stephanie

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Really beautiful!!! What a legacy they are creating and leaving! Wow! Your trip was so worth it! That's great.

PS-I hope Wendy B accepts your invitation. She is one of my favorite sisters in Christ on the planet!!! :) She LOVES God's Word!

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

what a great post, Warren. I am so thankful that you and Cheryl were able to go and minister to Marion. What a testament to his faith in the Lord and all those he has impacted.

My husband is a hospice chaplain as well as full-time pastor and that is one job that I don't think I could handle! But he does it with such grace and I am thankful for the availablitiy of that program for your friend.

Andrea said...

Blessings and prayers,

Warren Baldwin said...

Mindy - What a pleasant surprise to read your comment here! Thanks for the "visit" to the blog. Marion and Violet were special people, and our families did enjoy wonderful times then. BTW, we saw your mom and dad there as well. We surprised Marion and your mom and dad did as well. It was a great trip/visit.

Stephanie - You are so right. And as we follow the older faithful, their influence continues to live through us and into the next generation.

Sharon - Legacy is a good term for this. Thanks! And I hope Wendy B will accept as well, thanks. Maybe you would even consider writing one on marriage and money?

Beth - I knew your husband was a minister but didn't realize he was a hospice chaplain. That is such a great and important job. I appreciate his work! And any ministering we did to Marion was a small part of what he did to/for us.

Andrea - Thank you. wb

Anonymous said...

I know I was very lucky to have met such an amazing man as Marion. Anyone who crossed Marion's path became his friend. He treated me as if I had been family all along. He is a very special person and we need more Marions all over the world.

Anonymous said...

In life and in death we have seen the faith of Marion and Violet. They have been an inspiration to us through the years in Cody and in Cheyenne. They touched the lives of so many people as seen while Marion has been in Hospice. The guest book was filled with visitors from near and far for suite 11. The Patton's

Warren Baldwin said...

Anonymous - Thank you, and I know what you mean about Marion accepting you as a friend. He did that for me, too. And then he became more than a friend, he became a mentor.

Pattons - You guys have been an inspiration to Marion, Violet, the family and friends. Thank you for serving in the many ways you have.

Everyone - my role in this blog is to present the male perspective in family roles (husband/father). Marion is a good subject for this post b/c he did such a good job in both of these roles, as well as his role as a leader in the church.

Thanks to all who have responded. It has been a special joy to see some guests from Cody and Cheyenne, Wyoming reading here today. Bless you all!


The Calm of His Presence said...

Warren, what a blessing to have a strong, spiritual mentor. I know the highest praise you can give to him is by being a mentor yourself. Thank you for sharing the legacy Marion gave you.


Warren Baldwin said...

Thank you for these nice words. Marion was a great spiritual mentor to me and my son. I hope I can follow at least partially in his steps. Thanks again.

Warren Baldwin said...

Note: Marion passed away this morning, Thursday, Nov. 11. My family will be traveling to Cheyenne and I will conduct the funeral. The family request the reading of this blog post in the ceremony. wb

Heather said...


I am so sorry for the loss of your wonderful friend.

What a treasure to have had some time with him before he went home to Jesus.

Thank you for sharing this special and tender relationship and all the ways it has ministered to your heart. Praying your trip to Cheyenne is blessed and that many gather to honor such a marvelous man.