Friends Help Each Other and Share Experiences for a Quarter Century
Every Thursday. “Well, we’ve missed a few,” comes the correction from a voice somewhere near the coffee pot. So, almost every Thursday for more than 25 years, a force of women self-described as Lady Power comes together to get stuff done. Unstoppable, yet welcoming of interruption, these ladies exude boundless energy and emit loads of laughter as they tell their stories.
They are at Sandra Miller’s house this time. It’s going to be an easy day for the five women, who range in age from 76 to 84. If it weren’t for the writer and photographer, they’d already be taking on a work project of Sandra’s design. Each week Lady Power gathers to catch up on the highs and lows of the week prior and take on a helpful task for the host. These aren’t the tasks of the tea cookie and doily-making kind. Lady Power member Rachel Baker recounts, “We put in the floor joists at Cathy’s once.” “That was a whole lot more fun than when we get to Rachel’s house,” Cathy Jensen replies, “Rachel always has us do her windows.” The remaining four Lady Powers roll their eyes and sigh, then practically in unison repeat, “Every time. The windows.”
The women began gathering at the suggestion of member Marty Buck. Living in Missouri for a time, Marty experienced the practices of the local Amish women who would come together to prepare the house that would be holding the church service that week. From the onset they chose to spend the first hour of their gatherings catching up. “No gossip, just keeping up on the stories of the week,” says Alice Elshoff. The next hour is dedicated to the work at hand. They garden, lay carpet or tile, root out old trees, and at Rachel’s house, they do windows. Rachel pauses to reminisce, “Think how young we were when we started! How did we know how to do anything?”
Over the years, the ladies have had their share of heartaches. They’ve lost husbands, sons, other family members and, other Lady Power members. Three of them are currently caretakers for their husbands. And when fellow Lady Power member Sue Schock died, her husband Dick became an honorary member. He is the only male allowed to regularly attend the weekly gatherings. “Sue was great at scampering up trees for trimming,” says Nancy Conner. “We miss her. And we’re so glad Dick chose to join in her place.”
One special tradition the ladies have enjoyed through the years is their yearly Winter Solstice party. They write intentions for the coming year, read poetry and burn savory herbs and written notes in an open fire. Looking to the future, Nancy sums it up: “I imagine we’ll be doing a lot more talking and a lot less working.” Sue adds, “That’s okay, we’ve got to that age where all the stories sound new again.” “We are not old,” says Rachel as Nancy chimes in, “The people around us are though!” There’s a joyous round of laughter and the Lady Power group is set off on another round of stories.