Miriam of Blairmore, Alberta

“Thanks for coming to visit me. I don’t get many visitors,” Miriam an isolated Baha’i friend says. “I’ve been in this facility for ten years and how I teach the Faith is to speak about it to the staff. They’re very busy so I ask the new ones if they’ve heard of the Baha’i Faith and based on their answer I talk about its origin and how it has helped me in my long life.”

We sit with our new friend at a large round table at the end of a corridor in this long-term facility. Most of the doors nearby are open and we speak in regular voices as we start with a daily reading and listen to her tales of being a Baha’i for nearly ninety years.

“You asked about my being isolated and I have to admit that it takes a great deal of perseverance. I’m determined to do as much reading as my aging eyes will provide. I would greatly appreciate receiving phone calls from the friends and your visit has sparked my memories of becoming a Baha’i and living a service-driven purposeful life with my husband and children.”

She takes a sip from her water bottle and we drink our hot coffee. She presents an infectious smile and we can feel her resolve to share her stories with us.

“I declared back in the 1950s. I was working at a new job in Toronto and a very kind man offered to drive me to and from work. We always passed a nice house with a large brass plate on the front of it. I mentioned how the sign always caught my attention and he told me it announced the Baha’i National. I asked him what Baha’i meant and that’s how we started having talks about the Faith in his vehicle. We called it the ‘Fireside Car’.  Later I took up teaching the Faith with Peggy Ross.”

She places her frail long fingers on her lap and continues.

“After Toronto, I moved to Calgary and was given permission to pioneer in the district of Bowness. I lived in a small apartment there and did a great deal of work preparing and conducting Devotionals. Eventually, I met my husband-to-be and after we were married we lived in Enderby, British Columbia. During that time, he travelled to work in Kamloops and would regularly pick up hitchhikers and bring them home to our farm. A young couple who lived with us for a while agreed to get married when we asked them about it and we had a great wedding in our home. Murray, my husband, played the drums and other musicians gathered to entertain the attendees. I remember with fondness the sweet young girl asking me to make cream puffs. We had a lot of food but I recall the cream puffs.”

Her eyes sadden.

“Murray suffered a heart attack in the 1970s and although the doctor told him to rest for at least three months, he chose to drive to the Yukon after only three days in recovery. I insisted on traveling with him and we left our children with a friend. We posted a sign on our van that said, “Try Baha’i” and it got a lot of attention. It was a great teaching tool. On one occasion, we were parked at a truck stop and were approached by a stranger who asked about our post and before we could answer, another stranger, a truck driver, told the fellow about the Baha’i Faith. We continued our ‘Fireside’ in the coffee shop.”

Miriam’s face beams with delight. We can tell she has more tales to share.

“Oh, I’ve got lots of stories about being a Baha’i but I’ll miss dinner if I don’t get to the dining lounge. Would you please push me there?”

We escort our dear friend to her station at one of the tables and wish her the best as we leave.