An inspiration named Marilyn |

An inspiration named Marilyn

by Ron Walker
Marilyn Shreve, top row, center, with her stretch-a-size friends at a tea in her honor.
Special to The R-C |

The other day, Orllyene and I visited Marilyn Shreve. At the time, she was mulling over the idea of either getting a hospital bed and remaining at home, or moving into an assisted living facility in Gardnerville. Please don’t get the impression that something morbid is going to be happening here. It isn’t. Marilyn has never been a gloom and doom person, and she isn’t going to start now. Marilyn doesn’t just love life, she devours it.

Orllyene and I have been to dinner at Marilyn’s house countless times. She always brings out the good china, flowers are on the table, and if you haven’t tasted one of her almond cakes, you’ve really missed out.

Until a month or so ago, she took my stretch-a-size dance class. My classes aren’t for wimps, and twice a week she showed up. She liked the big band music, liked being around young people (60 is considered young in my classes) and knew taking care of your body is important. Marilyn broke the 80s barrier some years ago, and has been a source of inspiration for all of us.

Suzie Daugherty, one of her admirers, decided to throw a formal tea for Marilyn. “I think it’s terrible. We never get together socially with people, and then they pass away, and are gone,” Suzie says one day after dance class. Suzie is not a person who says something, and then nothing happens. She corners Lori Vaccaro and Nancy Reisbeck, and they conspire to have a delightful tea in Suzie’s home. Each table has an assortment of goodies, a tea kettle, and we all have a ripping good time. The only requirement for attendance is, you must bring your own cup and saucer. Serendipitously, I am honored to be the token male. Debbie, Mary Anne and I provide a brief dance number, and receive gracious, though restrained applause. Marilyn is the superstar of the afternoon.

So now Marilyn’s physical health has taken a turn. “Ron, you know how I wanted to stay in this house forever? Now it just doesn’t seem important anymore. It’s gotten very difficult to find people who can come in and help,” she says. Her words are confident, and she’s content with her decision.

Because Marilyn and I are on the same spiritual rung, we can talk freely. “You know, Ron, I’m not in the least bit uncomfortable about the transition that’s ahead of me,” she says with a smile. There’s no fear, no apprehension, just a simple, calm, understanding. To Marilyn, life is a continuum. Our time here on earth is an opportunity, but it certainly isn’t the end. Marilyn is a Christian who has a small Buddha sitting on the table in her living room. She attends a forward thinking church in Genoa, and has been meeting with a small group of friends here in Smith Valley for years to explore spiritual ideas.

Marilyn’s daughter Hilary, and her husband Michael, drove Marilyn to her assisted living facility in Gardnerville on Monday, and helped her get settled. I called her just before she left. “Marilyn, I just want you to know, that Orllyene and I have had dinner in the lovely dining room many times with Richard (mutual friend) there. So, what do you think? You going to invite us over for dinner?” I ask. With her usual intrepidity, she replies with a hearty “of course.”

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at