I am writing this letter today for the wonderful, kind, nurturing people I grew up with in the tiny yet big-hearted community of South Hope.
We just had two huge losses back to back, Florence Merrifield and Janie Mitchell.
These two women were the icons of our community, second mothers, friends, moms, grandmothers and so forth.
Florence Merrifield worked for the Town of Hope for many, many years until she retired. She was very missed after retirement at the Hope Town office, always smiling and knew what she was doing. I grew up with her children, Mark Merrifield and Maryanne Merrifield. Mark and myself graduated eighth grade together, as well as Elliot Mitchell, and then continued to Camden-Rockport High School, class of the great 1988.
Janie Mitchell was a mother to all. I would spend my days at their house with Elliot, as well as his little brother Adam Mitchell.
Janie would make the best grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for lunch. We would eat fast so we could go back outside. Her parents, the late Lois and Elmer Hart, also of South Hope. Elmer and his family had a blueberry business, as well.
If you ever needed to have your pants hemmed, or your dress altered, Florence, aka “Flossy” would be your go-to lady, and after retirement, she took up making home-made quilts, the best I have ever seen. Janie loved gardening and was the best mother to her two boys. If you ever ran in to these fine ladies, they would always take the time to chat about the day.
We take for granted those little chats, and how much of a difference someone can make in your life.
South Hope is a little less now with their passing. I will ALWAYS have my childhood memories with these two iconic women in them. May they spread their wings and watch over the lovely small own of South Hope, where they are rooted. I know they will be watching above, spreading their wings and flying high.
I am writing all of this because they made a difference in my life, as well as many others. May the families of these beautiful women heal from their sorrows and keep spreading the love as Florence and Janie did. God Bless.
Deborah L. Crabtree lives in Hope