Karen Graham is one of our favorite people. Tom and I have known Karen since we were all in school together at Vanderbilt. Even though she and I were both in seminary, Tom met her first. She worked in the Science Library and he would often talk to her when he went there. We all moved back to Ohio and started our careers together. Karen went to Tiro UMC and I went to Brady Lake UMC but we would say hello to each other at Annual Conference every year. All this is before we started helping Karen get her move on.
Then I went to grad school and Tom and I bought a house in Mogadore. A couple of years later, Karen got appointed to the Mogadore UMC and moved in to the parsonage across the street. We became the best of friends during her time in Mogadore. Our kids played together. We baked cookies and took long walks together. We attended the Mogadore Church and she was our pastor. Karen and I took vacations together. When I was appointed to the Wedgewood UMC, we stayed in the same house in Mogadore and supported each other in ministry.
Over the years we have spent some time helping Karen move. First was the move from Mogadore to Camp Asbury. Then Camp Asbury to Streetsboro. From Streetsboro we helped her pack up for her move to Cleveland Heights. Five years ago we helped Karen pack in preparation for her move to New Concord UMC. So it seemed right that we would take a day helping Karen pack for her newest move to Lakeside UMC.
We drove to New Concord and worked on packing up a couple of rooms in Karen’s parsonage. All her kids are on their own and it is just her in the house. Even though the move was about eight weeks in the future, there were plenty of things she needed to pack but wouldn’t need before the move. I worked on daughter Grace’s room. You know how the kids move out but leave stuff behind. Tom sorted recycling and tore down boxes in the garage. He also loaded up stuff to take to Goodwill.
We took a lunch break at an excellent little diner in New Concord. It has only been open a short time but it was very busy. We had to wait for our food but when it came it was delicious. I had a chili-topped burger that was so good I’ve been craving it ever since. Karen had a salad and Tom had a regular burger. If you are ever in New Concord, I recommend stopping at Scott’s Diner downtown.
After lunch we returned to the house to pack some more. Games, puzzles, books – everything went into boxes that we labeled and taped shut. We finally stopped, not because we were done, but because we needed to get to Goodwill before it closed.
Helping Karen get her move on has become a tradition for Tom and me. It is a good way to spend time with a friend and support her in her career. Karen is a great minister and all her churches have been lucky to have her. I know the Lakeside church will be blessed by her as well. Helping her pack transforms a sad time into a time of friendship and support. Her friendship has been a great blessing to me over the years. I am glad to be able to give back just a little of what she gives so freely to me.