My friend, Lillian White

“Mom, no one is that sweet.”

I smiled and assured my daughter. “Yes, Rebecca, she is sincerely that sweet.”

The subject of that long-ago discussion was my friend, Lillian White. Rebecca was a teenager, and although I had known Lil since before Rebecca’s birth, it was my serving on a ladies board under her direction that had put me in close and frequent contact with her, affording Rebecca the opportunity to regularly observe and develop her own friendship with this unique, godly lady.

I’m not sure how much later it was after our first conversation, that Rebecca said to me, “You know, Mom. She really is as sweet as she first appears.”

It is true. Lillian White is extraordinarily pleasant, agreeable, courteous and charming. She is a Christian.

It was in 1957 when Jerry and I first came to California that we met Lil and her husband, Sam; people who would develop into lifelong friends. Pastor for more than thirty years of a thriving church in Bellflower, he and Jerry served on ministerial boards together, and we have sat in countless camps, conferences and other special meetings.

We’ve wept over our families, laughed almost uncontrollably, admired each others new babies and grandbabies and great-grandbabies. We’ve shopped at thrift stores and at Nordstroms and at Macys. We have attended weddings and funerals and anniversary services; we’ve given and received gifts. We’ve visited each other in hospitals, and when Jerry was lingering near death after his horrendous accident, Lil held my hand in the waiting room, and told me God would take me through.

We’ve complained about things and told jokes around camp fires. We’ve shared chicken and dumplings and chocolate cake and once we traveled all the way to Maine so that Sam could eat Maine lobster.

We’ve camped side by side and have taken more than one extensive motor home trip together. Once five of us ministerial friends–all in motor homes–traveled from one coast to the other. In New York City–think of it now–as five long motor homes in New York City were trying to stay together, and as Berl Stevenson was leading that day, he came suddenly to a multi-level bridge, New York City traffic snarling famously.

“Everyone’s on their own,” he squawked into the CB. “I’m going this way.”

Jerry and I found ourselves separated from the pack, but quickly found our way and met up with the others at our destination RV park, but alas, there were no Sam and Lil. We waited, worried, and about five hours later, here they came…fresh from wandering the streets of New York City in a 34 feet Country Coach motor home. Lil had been in tears.

Through all these years, midst turmoil, trying situations and tense moments, never has one cross word been exchanged between the Buxtons and the Whites. It’s precisely true. We are friends.

Now, Sam and Lil, both in their 80s, are retired and living in northern Arizona, but we met up at our camp meeting in Santa Maria. The phone had rung before we left. “Shirley, this is Lil. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it to your birthday party, but I want to take you out for dinner when we get to Santa Maria.”

And so, on the Sunday before camp began, here came Sam and Lil who took us to the village of Guadalupe where we ate what may be the best steak dinner I have ever experienced. I helped Lil from the car and led her in to the dining room. In recent years she has developed Macular degeneration and can see very little. She can’t read at all, and Sam won’t let her try to cook. It breaks my heart.

But she is as beautiful as ever, as thoughtful, as sweet, as kind…as Christian.

She had bought a card to celebrate my birthday. “I had to get someone to take me to pick it out, and I told them it might take me a while,” she explained when she handed the beautiful card to me. As I read it, she finished. “This was the first one we found, and although we looked at others, I knew this was the one I wanted to give to you.” She beamed.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” Sam put in.

“Happy Birthday, My Friend

We’ve been friends for a long time now. And we’ve seen a lot of changes through the years.

but our friendship has never changed except to grow stronger.

Our busy lives have sometimes kept us apart, but even then, I’ve always felt close to you.

and then when we’ve gotten togther again, I’ve always felt we could take up right where we left off.

I’ve been lucky to meet new friends along the way,

but none can compare to a true and trusted friend like you.

So on your birthday, I want to tell you how very special you are to me. We share a wealth of memories and such warmth and closeness that only real friends can have.

And that means the world to me. (D. Walley Hallmark Cards)

I love Lil White and count myself blessed that she calls me friend…and yes, Sam is sweet too. I love him as a brother.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My devotional blog is here.

10 thoughts on “My friend, Lillian White

  1. Catherine Bingley

    As a young girl growing up in Bro. & Sister Pierce’s church in Costa Mesa, I had the privilege of being around both you and Sister White… and seeing first hand that Sister White is exactly as you describe her…. and now 30ish years later, I still hold you both in the highest of regard and respect.

    What a beautiful post about a beautiful lady ….

    Catherine! How can it be 30 years? How is that even possible?

    Thank you for appreciating Sister White, and for the kind personal remarks. God bless you for that.

    Although she cannot see these words, I hope someone will read these beautiful comments from so many of her friends, and even from those who over the years have admired her from a distance.

    Like

  2. Steven Saiz

    Great post about some great people!

    Steve, I fear it is possible that because I have been blessed to be around so many great people, I might fail to recognize and remember how special and precious they are. I don’t want that to happen, and I certainly don’t want my children and grandchildren to fail to appreciate such people as Sam and Lil White–and others of their generation and quality– who no longer sit on conference platforms, and whose names are no longer on the lips of the bright and beautiful.

    These are dear people. Thank you for noting.

    Like

  3. Bro. and Sis. White are not only sweet people, but they are real friends who loveth at all times. Bro. White was my dad’s best friend and my kids now call him “Papa White.” Sis. White is so sweet. I thank God for their continued friendship to my mom. They regularly call to check on her and visit for a few days a couple times a year. Their friendship is priceless and I love them both so dearly.

    You’re right, Jana, in pointing out that the Whites are not just sweet, but that they are “real,” and even during their advanced ages, and their increasing frailty, they still are concerned with their friends. During the camp once, I watched your mom carefully take Lil’s arm, and guide her over the grass. It brought tears to my eyes…because of your precious mother’s love for Lil, and because of Lil’s near blindness.

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  4. What a wonderful post! Sis. White, along with you all, have been such blessings to us in the District. We appreciate you all so very much. BTW, Bro Paul Wilson took Bro Hopper and I to our first eating experience at Far Western. He and Bro White would ride their motorbikes over to FW to eat when they were off security duty at Senior Camp.

    Very few years pass at Santa Maria camp without us going at least one time to Far Western and I always enjoy the food. This year, the Bull’s Eye steak I had seemed exceptionally tasty. And how about those beans? Penasquitos? Not sure about the spelling.

    Thanks for the sweet comments.

    Like

  5. Sis. Buxton,
    I worked at Truth Tabernacle in Fresno for 10 years. I was on staff for many District Board Meetings while Sis. White was Ladies Aux. Leader. She truly is a sweet as you described her.

    Hello, Kathy. Welcome to my blog. Hope you’re here often.

    Your response gives me an opportunity to say how much we always appreciated having our board meetings at Truth Tabernacle, and how helpful and friendly was the office staff. Thank you.

    Like

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