IS THERE AN ESTHER IN YOUR LIFE?
An old Richard and Karen Carpenter song with the following lyrics has a powerful message:
Sometimes, not often enough, we reflect upon the good things, and those thoughts always center around those we love……and I think about those people who mean so much to me, and for so many years have made me so very happy, and I count the times I have forgotten to say “thank you” and just how much I love them.
These words whirled through my mind and spoke to my heart several years ago as I was giving thought to the preparation for a neighborhood Bible study on the Book of Esther. Esther was a young Jewish girl who lived in Susa, a capital city of Persia (present day Iran). Esther’s story is about some of the Jews who remained in Persia after fellow countrymen had returned to Jerusalem. The Book of Esther is rich with details of her exciting, terrifying and challenging life. Please allow me to share with you the story of an Esther in my life.
In 1969, shortly after the birth of our first son, I returned to the workplace as assistant to the Executive Director of Tidewater Rehabilitation Institute in Norfolk, Virginia. During office hours I was sometimes called upon to assist in other departments, editing and typing reports. The resident Clinical Psychologist was an incredibly brilliant woman, Esther Goldman, who I assisted as time permitted. When I left my employment after less than two years because of birth of our second son, Mrs. Goldman recruited me to type her doctoral dissertation as well as her clinical psychology reports in my “home office” (kitchen table, uncomfortable chair and a non-correcting “Selectric” typewriter). Mrs. Goldman, a perfectionist with a high energy level drove me a little bit crazy, and I would often grumble and gripe. Her handwriting was difficult to read, and many of her documents had writing in the margins and arrows going every which way. Working for her was a challenge, but it was rewarding in ways I still vividly recall. She loved the number “7”, and almost every time I presented her with an invoice, she would round up the amount to the next “7”. For example, if I indicated she owed me $11 she would round it up to $14, or if the invoice said $17, she would round it up to $21. I think she lived and breathed in multiples of “7”. It doesn’t sound like much now, but back in 1970-74 that was a lot of money for a young couple with two children trying to make ends meet on a military salary. Many times when she came to our home to pick up the typewritten pages, she would bring a gift of candy, cookies, a toy for one of the boys, or a lovely scarf for me. I would feel horrible for accepting her generosity because I had been cranky with her for making my job so challenging. She never lost her cool with me and was always full of praise for the quality of my work.
Because Mrs. Goldman trusted me with her confidential material, she also had put trust in my husband and employed him to do some statistical computer work. She was so impressed with his talents that she began to encourage him to allow her to recommend him to her brother, an engineering manager with Texas Instruments. Jerry thanked her but said, “not interested”! We were looking forward to going from near poverty of military life to a ready-made family business. God had other plans, and my husband just couldn’t get it out of his mind that he might have a connection to Texas Instruments. One day, about 6 months before his discharge from the Navy, Jerry walked in the door and told me he just couldn’t see himself selling carpet and tile for the rest of his life. Jerry’s Mom and Dad had worked hard to set up this business in his hometown of Madison, Indiana, and we were going to move there and waltz right into a successful company. After his epiphany, Jerry contacted Mrs. Goldman, and she contacted her brother, and we moved from Norfolk to Houston, Texas, where Jerry enjoyed (most of the time) a 25 year career with a great company that afforded us many benefits as well as travel opportunities. And the rest is history! We continue to live a good life, due in great part to our association with a good woman.
Mrs. Goldman was challenging, hyper, and a brilliant perfectionist, but above all, she was caring, compassionate, generous and kind, and a few years ago when I started to think about leading a study on the Book of Esther, I thought of Mrs. Goldman. I asked myself why I had lost touch with this special person who did so much to change the course of our lives. I felt shame, not knowing if she was still living in Norfolk or even if she was still living. Jerry did research for me, and he found that Esther Goldman had passed away in January of 2015. It wasn’t until I read her obituary that I became aware she was born in Germany. I now wonder how many other details of her life I didn’t know about and how sad I am that I let her slip away from my memory for so many years, not even attempting to locate her and see her or even write a simple letter to say “thank you and I love you.” Following is her obituary. If you wish to see a photo of this beautiful woman, look at the website http://www.meierhoffer.com/25718/obituaries/esther-levine-goldman/
May I encourage you to think about the Esthers in your life. Perhaps it’s an old friend with whom you’ve lost contact, a special family member, a neighbor who was always there for you through thick and thin. I wager you’re like me and are blessed to have had many Esthers in your life. If she or they are still living, get in touch with your Esther(s) and just say “thank you.” Two little words that have the power to lift a heart and bring a smile.