The old order changeth.1998 will surely be remembered as the year it happened.  First Buck Slate died during the ice storm; then Betty Haxall died; and on Saturday, June 27, 1998, Marjorie Rusho died.  The north shore, the west shore, and now the south shore, have lost people whom we depended on to give us a sense of where we have come from and a sense where we wish to go, we have lost people who gave us a sense of direction.  Marjorie’s courage in this last year of illness, and her continued gratitude for the full, good life she had been given, have made us grateful to have been blessed with her steadfastness, with her love for her people, her island, and with the constancy of her care for us all. She made  her home a gateway to the joy of her community;  her kitchen fed us all, not only bread and cake, but warmth and comfort and strength…and humor. She leaves us her lovely family, all of whom will continue to breathe her blessings on us, and on Leon who will miss her so sorely. Her funeral service will take place Monday morning, June 29, 1998, at the Methodist Church in Clayton. Joseph DeGroote and Jane Wagner, our new island pastor, will minister at the service, and there will be a reception after the service at the home of Salt and Kitty Garnsey on Webb Street in Clayton.


Mrs. Robert Digel came from Round Island to the Sunday morning service on Grindstone to speak of how God had blessed Marjorie with the love and courage to go through the pain and suffering she has endured this last year, and one of the congregation’s children, when Jane told them that God hears our prayers and answers them, spoke up and said something awful had happened to Marjorie Garnsey, whereupon the pastor could, with perfect faith, assure the little girl that Marjorie’s prayers had, indeed been answered, that her suffering was ended,  that “Life happens. and Death happens,” and  God takes loving care of us in both happenings.


Marjorie’s lovable good sense pervaded the worship service, and somehow Leon’s story of a former pastor in the Grindstone Church crept into the sermon about Expectation. The pastor was in the habit of rounding up sheep who were absent from the congregation for several Sundays with a telephone call. One day the answer he received was,   “You always say the same thing, and my mother said the same thing, so I don’t need to hear it any more.”  “Well”, the minister replied, “answer this one question, what did you eat for breakfast this morning.”  The man told him. Then the minister asked “What did you have yesterday?”  “The same thing” the man replied, I always have the same thing. “But,” said the pastor, “You don’t stop eating breakfast.” . And I suppose Leon ate his breakfast this morning, the same as the one he ate yesterday. Leon is as steadfast as Marjorie.


The main events of the week, besides homeless bats seeking the shelter of some dwelling on Grindstone were, as they were up and down the river, Lightening, Thunder, Lightening, Thunder, Lightening, Thunder! But, finally, the wind shifted, and it was a beautiful weekend. So lots of people came to church, and to the potluck lunch.  We had hoped Jacie Donaldson would be there because the congregation had a graduation present for her, but Phil, her father said she couldn’t make it.  We’re saving it for her.


Fran Purcell announced that the plans for the old schoolhouse in the middle of the island, where Fran was teacher for a few years, are proceeding apace. We have a grant for research from the Heritage Foundation, to study the history of the island and gather together artifacts that help tell the story. But the project needs people to help with the rather daunting task.  Eventually, we hope to have a summer intern present at the school each summer to help visitors to the schoolhouse get into the history.  Surely Audrey Lashomb’s book, Going Home, will be part of the collection and a good beginning for finding out about a whole realm of the island’s life.


Doc Schwartz read the names of the committee appointed to funnel ideas and thinking about the restoration of the interior of the church to the congregation for its consideration:

Manly Rusho, Elaine Brooks, Fred Jackson, Erma Slate, and Phil Marra. Doc suggested  that anyone who has suggestions call one of these people.  They, in turn, will try to get the various ideas into public discussion so people can think about them and form considered opinions. Beginning next week, I’ll report some of the conversations in this column.  By the end of the summer we should have a consensus about what to do. And then, of course, we’ll do it!


Doc also read the names he has been given of people who died this year.  He asked that we call him to add any other names before the memorial service on July 19th. Here are the ones he knows: Andrew MacDonald, Irwin (Buck) Slate, Frank Moneau, Elizabeth Haxall, Jack Heineman, Marjorie Rusho.


And the happiest news: Urch (Eileen Balcom) and Harry Slate have announced their engagement and are planning to be married next June in the Grindstone Island church! Good News! Good News! Good News!


So it is.

Aminta Marks