Olympia is 43 years old.
She came over from Western Germany, and found a home in the flat loblolly forests of Pinehurst, where she weathered the sand of many golf courses.
She has lived in one-zip-code Petersburg, West Virginia, in the Manse next to the Presbyterian church.
And upstairs overlooking the iron fence that runs between the sheep field and the cemetery, just past the Mennonite farm in Mount Solon.
She retired early in a blue cottage on a hill to the West of the motherly shadow of Massanutten, in the Shenandoah Valley.
She is heavy set, and well-educated.
She has written approximately 1,023 sermons.
And numerous letters. She didn’t keep track. Some of the letters contained stories about how to issue a depth charge from the deck of a small vessel, that clunky naval tactic from WWII, and the skill required to do it successfully. And what it was like to live on cornbread on the trip home after chasing a German submarine which turned out to be a whale halfway across the Atlantic.
(She was secretary for a long time to a sailor who was an authority on these things.)
She worked out of retirement, took a long sabbatical, and then got up and came down to train-tracked Mebane, south to the Piedmont of her coming-of-age days,
Her prayer is the same as Jabez’s, tattooed on her shoulder:
Oh, that you would bless me indeed,
and enlarge my territory,
that Your hand would be with me,
And that You would keep me from evil.
I have learned a lot about the world from Olympia over the years.
I think I will like working her.
For Robert Fredrick Field, “Granddad,” b. 1925
Who bequeathed to me Olympia for safekeeping after his typing hand gave out. “It’s very heavy, and there’s a new ribbon on my desk and some—but what in the world do you want with an old typewriter??”