Garlands member, Marlene Peterson, once described as “a swan gliding across still waters,” is calm, thoughtful, kind-hearted and generous. What you see on the surface is a wonderful example of how beautiful a life of caring about others can be. What you don’t see is how fast those feet are paddling!
Always a busy woman, Marlene didn’t slow down when she retired as a nursing-home consultant. Retiring simply gave her more time to do what she loved and had always found time to do: pay attention to the people around her. A deacon in the Presbyterian church for over 50 years, Marlene is all about “acts of service.”
At The Garlands, she invites a less tech-savvy friend over on Sundays to (safely) watch their church’s streamed service. To commemorate holidays, she often drops off a little craft or goodie to the members of her parish. She is an avid cook and pastry chef and regularly brings Tupperwares of creations to Garlands members she knows most need or appreciate them (a hearty soup to one member, cream puffs for another). She also takes entire meals for Barrington-area friends and acquaintances who may be recuperating or going through a challenging time. She spends an hour a day in quiet prayer for all the people she knows who are in need. She writes loads of snail-mail letters to friends, acquaintances, and family saying, “An actual letter brightens up everyone’s day!”
During the pandemic, Marlene has stepped it up: more people isolated equals more trips around town to drop off care packages. More goodies. More prayers. More letters. In a sense, these quiet acts are also a way of being close to her husband Jim, “the gentlest, kindest person I’ve ever known.”
Marlene also stepped up her self-care throughout the pandemic. She’s been packing a picnic lunch and book and heading off to a state park several times a month: a lovely drive, beauty for the eyes, fresh air for the lungs, exercise for the body and soul, and a great book for the brain! She walks about two miles a day, whether on- or off-campus. She’s always studying something: currently, “the Jewish roots of Jesus.” AND she carves out time to paint – she is currently working on a piece for the June Gallery at the Garlands Art Exhibit.
Marlene does not enjoy the spotlight! Her life philosophy is a song she learned as a young girl and has been singing ever since:
“Others may be art glass of rainbow hue,
I chose to be a window pane for the sun
to shine through.
A clear pane, a clean pane is what I would be,
Unconcerned with temperament and personality.
I would have love shine through me so that
my friends might say, Not ‘What a lovely pane
of glass,’ but ‘What a lovely day.’”