While I worked full time at The Messenger, I wanted to interview Marguerite Wagner for something.
She lived in the country between Eagle Grove and Clarion at the time, and I'd talked to her before. Way back in the mid-1980s, when I wrote for the Eagle Grove Eagle, she let me borrow her rainbow clown hair to be in the circus in Eagle.
I consider her a good friend, so when I called to ask if I could talk to her for a story, I added, "and you could feed me lunch if you wanted to."
She laughed and said "of course."
Grinning, I put the phone down and looked up. Everyone - and I mean everyone - in the newsroom was looking at me in disbelief.
"What did you just ask?" That's the first thing anyone could say.
"I told her she could feed me if she wanted to," I answered. "She does."
Suddenly it dawned on me it might be unusual to have such a family feeling with a woman you've met only a few times and even more unusual to invite yourself to lunch while doing a story.
But going to see Marguerite is a lot like going to visit a grandmother. You feel loved and special, so very special, when you're around her. And she taught me that goldfish can stay in a cow tank in the winter if there's enough water. The top half can freeze, but the bottom half doesn't, and there's enough oxygen in the water to keep the little critters alive.
I've been thinking of Marguerite since a daughter, Marcia Sundet, of Algona, wrote to say her sister, Monica Staudt, is heading to Haiti this month on her third trip with the Catholic cluster of Clarion, Eagle Grove and Belmond.
"Their purpose is considered a medical mission," Sundet wrote, "and they spend lots of time going to different parishes or villages with vitamins, worming medicines and whatever. But this time, Monica's goal was to take a doll for each little girl in the school that their churches have built. Anyway, she has received over 500 dolls from across the United States and even the United Kingdom. They are really something."
Sundet sent along a photo, and the dolls are as cute as they can be. Cloth, with dark skin, big eyes and a smile that goes ear to ear, or would if the dolls had ears. The dolls will make a wonderful gift of love.
Which only makes sense. After all, Staudt grew up watching her mother shower love on the world. That feeling of giving and helping and love had to encompass everyone in the family.
By the way, Monica Wagner Staudt is on Facebook with her Haiti Medical Mission Group. I'd go to that site and look up the mission story, but honestly, I don't know how. I tried, but ended up looking at someone's wedding photo.
Techno-idget that I am, I believe Staudt is doing a wonderful thing because I know her mother. And few people are more wonderful than Marguerite Wagner.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Sandy Mickelson, former lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.