24. June 2008 · Comments Off on Marjorie Serby Robertson · Categories: Domestic, Memoir

There are people who come into our lives when we least expect them. People who have no business being there, actually, but thanks to a serendipitous moment in time, they are. A chance encounter when walking across a college campus over 25 years ago led to my friendship with one of the most wonderful women I have ever known.

Marge and me, 2003

Marge Robertson taught Social Work at my University. I was a social work major, so you’d think we’d meet. But the classes I took weren’t the ones she was teaching, and so she was never my instructor. But our paths crossed outside the library one day, and she stopped and listened to whatever was on my heart at that time.

She became a sort of mentor for me. I would go to her with my confusions about life and college and whatever, and she would listen, calmly and caringly, and when I left, nothing seemed as insurmountable as when I had arrived.

Life took me far away from my college town, but I always knew she was there, in the house where she and her husband raised their children. I tried to visit her on the times I went back to college town. It didn’t always work out, but those visits merged with our occasional phone calls and annual christmas/hannukah letters to help us keep in touch with each other’s lives.

I had the opportunity about 10 years ago, to tell Marge, face to face, exactly how much her friendship and encouragement had helped me over the years. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and she gave me a role model of how to be a human being, alive and caring in a world that often seems bent on destroying those who care.

That wasn’t our last visit, thank goodness. It’s just one that swam to the surface of my consciousness last Saturday, when I read the email I had hoped to never receive. I’ll have no more visits with Marge.

Marjorie Serby Robertson, 77 of Valparaiso, passed away Tuesday June 17, 2008 at the VNA Hospice Center. She was born November 15, 1930 in Chicago, the daughter of Abraham and Geraldine (Herzog) Serby. Marjorie was a Psychiatric Social Worker and Professor of Social Work at Valparaiso University and a member of Temples Beth El and Israel. Her other involvements included League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, Adult Learning Center board of directors, Whispering Pines board of directors, Porter County Mental Health Association, Chemical People Task Force, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, and president of Moraine House board of directors. She was instrumental in the establishment of the school social worker program in Porter County and of the state-wide association of Juvenile Justice Task Forces.

Her funeral was today, 700 miles north of me. I couldn’t take a moment of silence at the appointed time, because I was in the middle of a conference call. But as soon as the call ended, I took time to reflect on my friend, and to thank God for our friendship.

I am a better person because she was in my life. The world is a better place because she lived. And I will miss her, in ways that I have not yet begun to realize. She was a constant in my life, always available, always caring. She will still be a constant, but it will be in my heart. But that’s ok – it’s where she’s always been, for as long as I’ve known her.

Shalom, Marge. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world around you, and with me.

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