This past Sunday was Boy Scout Sunday nationwide, and Mom wanted to go. She called her scouting friend who lives in Baton Rouge, found out which church had an affiliated troop, and made arrangements with the Scoutmaster. She asked Brian to iron her skirt and me to buy her a new brown belt.
“To do my duty to God and my country.”
For those of you not in the know, Boy Scouting has been an important part of Mama J’s life for many, many years. She has received the highest council volunteer award, the Silver Beaver, as well as other honors and awards. She is a Vigil Honor Order of the Arrow member (she spent a whole night in the woods by herself, tending a fire, while she was on oxygen. If that doesn’t tell you something about her, I don’t know what will.). Her late husband was a beloved longtime scout and ranger at the Boy Scout camp where they lived their 10 years of marriage until he died.
Going to Scout Sunday was a Big. Deal.
“To help other people at all times.”
The Scoutmaster was waiting for us when we got to University United Methodist Church. He greeted her by name and escorted her to her appointed spot next to him in the front pew. He held the hymnal with her and explained any unfamiliar parts of the service. Exchanging of patches is a thing in scouts, and he gave her a Scout Sunday patch and a patch for the local chapter of Order of the Arrow. After the service, he told us if we ever needed the boys to come and help with anything, they would be there, and he meant it, every word.
“I will do my best.”
It’s easy to see why Mama J has devoted her life to this organization. While they have made some missteps at the national level (the former banning of gay scouts comes to mind), the boys, men and women I have met through her scouting activities have been some of the kindest people I’ve ever known, especially to her.
We went for breakfast afterwards, and this perky little waitress thought Mom was “the most adorable Boy Scout” she’d ever seen. No, I thought. “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” A scout does a “Good Turn daily.” That’s the kind of Boy Scout Mama J is.
I was honored to be there with her in her uniform and regalia, where she belonged, with her people. I whispered to B, “Look at her! She’s with her tribe.” For the first time since she moved to Baton Rouge, she truly seemed to be at home, in her comfort zone. As I watched her smiling, sharing information with the boys in the troop about their insignia and patches, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last time Mama J would ever wear her Boy Scout uniform. The thought brought tears to my eyes, but then I realized one profound truth that calmed me and made me smile. In uniform or no, one thing I do know with all my heart: Mama J will live out the rest of her days as a good Boy Scout.
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