Sarah Stultz: Changed for good because of friendship

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 9, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

Have you ever met someone and right away felt like you had an instant connection — like you were kindred spirits of sorts?

It didn’t matter your age, your stage in life or your financial status, you just clicked with that person and became friends right away.

Email newsletter signup

I felt that was the case with a woman in our community who will be moving this month with her husband to be closer to family on the West Coast.

I found out yesterday that they sold their house and will be leaving town after some time of having their house on the market.

I’ll be honest — I was both happy and sad to hear the news that their house had sold. I had clung on to the fact that their house was still on the market — I selfishly hoped they would always be here in Albert Lea. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the house sold. I was sad to hear that someone who has had such an influence on me and so many others was going to be leaving, but I am happy they will be able to be with their family.

I met this woman — Carol Matthews — through my church. She and her husband, David, had moved to Albert Lea long before I did, but as long as I knew them, I think they lived on the outer circle of East Park Avenue.

As you can imagine, moving to East Park Avenue ourselves in 2011, it was a treat to be just down the street from them.

Almost every time we went for a walk in the neighborhood, one of my children would want to stop and say hi to Carol.

Even though I intended for our visits to be brief, Carol often opened the door for us and invited us in. We would chat for several minutes — if not an hour or more each time. She always had snacks ready for my daughter, Sophie, and son, Landon, if they wanted them, and we would catch up on what was happening in each others’ lives.

On the Fourth of July each year, she always invited our church family and anyone else who wanted to join to come over to watch fireworks in their backyard, which was across the lake from City Beach. I have many fond memories of going back there to celebrate.

When my work schedule and my husband’s work schedules overlapped with the time Sophie needed to be taken to school, Carol watched our daughter for 30 or 45 minutes each morning and then helped take her to school. They made many more precious memories there as my daughter — who I believe was in kindergarten or first grade at the time — developed a special bond with this 70-some-year-old woman.

In some ways, Carol has been like a mother figure or grandmother figure to our whole family and to many others.

Though we shared many laughs, wonderful experiences and even some tears over the years, one of the things I have been inspired by the most is Carol and David’s willingness to serve other people — in whatever means they could, whether through time, prayers or other resources.

They have always been the type of people to lift up others around them whenever they were made aware of a need.

Even as they dealt with their own health challenges and struggles, they never stopped helping others.

Dear friends, thank you for all the lives you have touched — including mine -— and I wish you the best in the next chapter of your life.

These lyrics from “For Good” in the musical “Wicked” wrap up my feelings well.

“It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You’ll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend:

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a skybird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

But because I knew you:

I have been changed for good.”

Until we meet again, friends.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.