Life With Ferris: Loving Your Neighbor

  • Monday, October 2, 2023
  • Ferris Robinson
Ward and Margaret Nelson
Ward and Margaret Nelson

I know Margaret is not texting me first thing Monday morning to check on my mother who she is concerned has COVID.

Ordinarily this would not be unusual. Marge is the kind of person who is concerned about others, no matter what she has going on in her own life. Right now, as of exactly nine days ago, she is dealing with a malignant tumor that was removed from her brain. She has a two-inch hole in her skull. She is gearing up for a massive six-week treatment of simultaneous chemo and radiation. She can’t see out of her right eye because the tumor was wrapped around her optic nerve. She can’t read so she can’t text.

So what is her biggest concern on a Monday morning after another sleepless night due to all manner of meds? The state of my mother’s sore throat.

She has other concerns, of course. She is concerned about Tyesha, her Little Sister. Tyesha is a fully grown woman taking college courses to become a dental hygienist. Marge knows she needs encouragement and support and a friend. So when she told her friend Hazel about the glioblastoma, the main gist of the conversation was how it was going to affect Tyesha. A Big Sister herself, Hazel and her Little have spent tons of time with Tyesha, so Hazel promised to be there for Taisha until Margaret has healed.

Marge has another concern, as well, and that is for her current Little, an elementary school student who she befriends and mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters. And another, the Reading Room at First Centenary that Margaret manages.

“We don’t have it during the summer,” she says. But if the after-school program were open, how to manage the Reading Room would be on her to-do list.

Yes, Marge takes care of herself, too. She exercises, eats right and covers all the bases on healthy living. She loves mah jongg and tennis and pickleball and knows all the words to every country song ever written. She’s game for anything and a load of fun.

But there’s something else about her. She epitomizes loving her neighbor as herself. She would scoff at this statement, insisting that’s something we all try to do.

Years ago when I tutored in the Reading Room, I remember my first day. First Centenary is large, and I was in the wrong section. I wandered around for a while, passing classrooms and restrooms and janitorial closets, then finally ran into Margaret and Gin Johnson in a dark hall on a Monday afternoon.

“Of course I find you here, deep in the bowels of the church,” I said. And they both thought this was hysterical.

But one definition of bowels is the deep or innermost part. And that’s were she was, scurrying about doing things that needed to be done, loving her neighbors. Which, of course, makes perfect sense.

* * *

Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series “If Bugs Are Banished.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is and you can download a free pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.


Ferris Robinson
Ferris Robinson
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