My friend Diane is like a magnet.

No, not a fridge magnet

Not that kind of magnet, either. More like a ‘people’ magnet. They’re drawn to her–all kinds of people: big, tall, small people, thin, round–all people and especially hurting people.

Maybe it’s because she’s had a few struggles in life, herself, or maybe it’s just that she truly has the ability to accept others right where they are–no strings attached, no hidden agendas. Maybe both. Either way, she sure attracts people. Rabble-rousers, hooligans and schismatics alike (and a few regular folk, of course), all feel the pull toward her genuine desire to put others first.

‘Conventional’ is not a word I would use to describe her. But, ‘fun?’ Well, that’s another story.

She’s one of those plainly remarkable people who could jump out of her seat at the end of a six-hour office management meeting and get everyone up doing the limbo. Nobody gets hurt. When you’re around Diane, not only is it okay to be a kid again, you feel like you really are.

She’s got a radar for anyone who looks like they might be in need of a ride, an encouraging word, a card, a phone call, a friend… And, I can honestly tell you, in the more than ten years I’ve known her I have never once heard her gossiping, slandering or complaining. At times, we’ve shared our gut feelings together about some serious issues, but never a word to malign another. In fact, she does her best to slip out of conversations heading in that direction. That makes her my hero.

We all get a handful of really good friends who help make us who we are, who actually change the direction our life might otherwise have taken–just by being in it. Diane is one of mine.

I have found myself making changes in the way I’ve treated others by following her example, and secretly admiring her for how outgoing she is. She’s the kind of person who gets things started; big on ideas, and even bigger on helping everyone feel like they’re a part of whatever is happening.

You can’t possibly think of Diane without thinking of her wonderful family. And wonderful is not a word I use loosely here. They are creative, energetic, fun-loving and extremely caring. When someone near to me was going through a difficult time financially the whole family came up with a Wal-Mart gift card for $500. Not from the overflow of a lucrative lifestyle–rather, from a jar they keep to collect offerings for those in need. And, maybe that’s because they know about that, too.

This potato farming family spent several years running their own retail business, not only here in our small town, but way up north. Travelling Highway 144 up to Chapleau every week was just part of the family adventure of owning a dollar store operation. Her husband, Michel, even hit a moose on his way back, once.

They literally lived in the back of the store–all six of them. They’ve lived in basements and vans, too, and maybe that’s why they’re such a close family, I don’t know–one thing I do know is that they’re big on respecting others–almost as big as they are on having fun. Did I mention they like to have fun?

With one daughter just graduating high school and another going into it, a son going into college, another son working and a husband (who loves her to pieces–and it shows) farming fifty plus hours a week, she can breathe a little easier now. That’s because she’s saying goodbye to a season of her life that has so defined her for the past twenty years–being a home school mom.

Yes, remarkably, through running an organic vegetable farm, a small business in three locations and, more recently, a sleep shift at Christian Horizons (so she could be home during the day with the kids), leading a youth group, and lending hands to anyone in need she managed to do an AMAZING job of, not only being the glue that held her family together, but shaping, educating, forming and moulding some of the most absolutely delightful young people you could ever know.

I wish I could go on. This truly beautiful woman has blessed me more than my meagre words could ever possibly convey. And, if I could be half the blessing to others as she has been to me, I know that I will have lived a life well worth living.

I asked Diane to if I could interview her for my next PRP post, and she agreed. Why don’t you grab a coffee and come meet us over here?


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