Inspiration Close to Home… Or Within A Day’s Drive

In Uncategorized on 2011/05/09 at 9:34 am

Eight Cups of Wisdom

I don’t have to look very far to find a dose of inspiration. It’s available within my own family:  Maisie Denton is at the top of the list.

Hers isn’t a name known worldwide, but she has been living and giving for more than 90 years, and she has made a positive impact on countless lives. Mae  Denton – She’s affectionately known by my husband’s family as Aunt Maisie. She’s my husband Dan’s step-Grandmother. Maisie moved into her home in Akron sometime in the late 30’s, as a young bride to a widower with a large family. Her husband, Bill Denton, had already made a mark on the world by the time they married. Maisie still lives in their house on Orchard. I consider it an honor to have had the pleasure of getting to know Aunt Maisie since marrying Dan.

I first met Maisie when she was 80 years young.  While I’ve known her for only a portion of her life, she has made a significant impact on my view of life. I hope that everyone has an opportunity to meet an Aunt Maisie in their lifetime. Maisie is warm and wise and worldly.  She is plugged into the pulse of the world around her. This may come from the fact that Maisie still reads the Akron Beacon Journal every day. It keeps her current, and the things in which she’s interested are relevant. Her interests and perspective are broader than most thirty, forty or fifty year olds I know.

While poring over her daily newspaper, Maisie searches for reports of crime and violence and the police beat, so that she can add them to the files at the Victim Assistance Program Office, located at 150 Furnace Street. Victim Assistance a program led by her son, Rev. Bob Denton, shares its address with Furnace Street Mission – established by Bob’s father, and Maisie’s late husband Bill Denton in Akron, Ohio in 1926. Furnace Street Mission humbly started with a few programs aimed at helping the area’s unserved needy. While maintaining their initial mission to the area’s needy citizens, Furnace Street Mission today works closely with victims of crime, abuse and violence, as well as ministering to the needs of the community’s police and fire officers.

To me, Maisie’s life is a testament to commitment and support and  evidence that  age is a state of mind. Thought she’s getting older, I know that Maisie still makes it to the office, if not with the regularity she did a decade ago, at least on special occasions.  When I met Maisie, she was still answering phones on the Victim Assistance Hotline. The Denton family does amazing work. Keeping the home fire burning for more than seventy years is Aunt Maisie. She is a spirited non-judgmental person who was given an extra helping of common sense as she passed into this world. She is current, optimistic and sensible. Visiting her is a joy.

When you arrive at Aunt Maisie’s, the Folgers begins to brew. There’s always real half and half in the fridge and some yummy snack in the cupboard. Once the coffee is poured, the conversation begins
We discuss family, presidents, travel, generational differences, and the world today.  Maisie’s stories always have a point, and they’re entertaining and thought-provoking. After many hours, as the clock strikes an hour well beyond our bedtime, we say goodnight. As we drift to sleep, I can still hear Aunt Maisie  downstairs, puttering in the kitchen. All is well in the world, knowing that this angel is afoot.

When we stay at Aunt Maisie’s we sleep in a room where my husband and his family stayed when they traveled back to the states on furlough every five years or so. Like Dan’s grandfather, his father chose a life helping others – Dan’s parents left the US to move to South America in 1947 as Missionaries for the Nazarene Church…raising their own family thousands of miles from the their home in the U.S.Knowing that some of Dan’s fondest childhood memories are in this house adds to the meaning of staying at Aunt Maisie’s. The house seems to be company ready and unchanged from visit to visit.

As we descend the creaking stairs and open the kitchen door in the morning, the aroma of coffee awaits. I think that there may be about 5 hours in any 24-hour period where coffee isn’t being brewed.  And in the morning, coffee cake, and hot breakfast are generally at the ready. While we covered a myriad of topics the night before, conversation begins anew. I’m pleasantly reminded as we cover new ground that Maisie is outwardly and other focused. She is genuinely charitable and kind, but do not mistake her charitable nature for naivety. The family business involves working with the underserved and helping people who have faced adversity for 75 years. So, Aunt Maisie hasn’t lived a sugar-coated life.

Maisie has stayed sane and calm and kind and steady in Akron, Ohio through 3 wars, two conflicts, 7 decades and a world turned upside down again and again. The lesson I most appreciate from knowing Maisie is that she doesn’t care WHAT I am. She cares THAT I am. While the journey someone is on may be interesting, She cares more about the person who is on the journey.

A person’s story takes a lifetime to write.  If we believe that someone’s greatest achievement is their story, we miss out on some of the most interesting moment’s of their life – the every day moments. The coffee, the conversation, the visits to family that include Stuckey’s and lumpy beds and staying up too late and family stories shared that help us understand, after many years, why our husbands and wives and in-laws feel the way they feel and made decisions they did along their life’s journey. When we are sitting around the kitchen table with the people in our lives, we see them not as titles and job descriptions such as CEO’s or Ministers or engineers or housewives…we see them as people on a journey, and as siblings and aunts and uncles – or as the person who somehow, year after year, still gets the best room in the house every time we visit, whether it’s fair or not.

I hope you have an Aunt Maisie – someone who as a shining example of non-judgement helps you seek and balanced life or that YOU are a source of inspiration for the people with whom you live and work.

Wishing you a great week…

~ Tess

Copyright 2011

Destiny Rising, LLC

  1. It was about time someone wrote about Aunt Maisie! I am glad it was you, Tess -you have done a stupendous and accurate job! A heartfelt thank you from another family member!

  2. Tess, this post really resonates with me. I do, blessedly, have an Aunt Maisie of my own. Her name is Sister Doris, and she is 83 years old. I’d describe her at length, but it’s easiest to simply say she’s just like Maisie, in so many ways. The humor and wisdom and depth she has brought into my life in the two years I have known her is immeasurable. She is one of my most cherished gifts in this life. So thank you for writing about Maisie. It was a pleasure to read this post, and it leads me to hope that someday I’ll be a Maisie to others. How neat would that be??

    • Renata: Thank YOU for your comment. I hope that you have the chance to spend much time with Sr. Doris so that you can soak up her wisdom for your own journey! I know that you have many exciting things happening in your life. It’s when life is so hectic that spending time with our Maisies reminds us of the simple joys.

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