Natalie Wriggins 6/27/35-1/3/06
Natalie arrived at Midcoast Meeting in 1989, when we were meeting in the space available at Miles Hospital. She caused no ruffle in our midst, and we began to know her at a leisurely pace, until after a while it was unthinkable that she had not been a part of our community since the beginning. She slipped right in and got to know us one by one, making good friends of us as she went.
She was with us all the way from then on, through all the other venues we occupied until we finally had our own meetinghouse, and she actively participated in the fundraising and decision-making that went into that major move.
Over the years, she served on Ministry & Counsel, Finance, Hospitality, Meetinghouse & Grounds, and other committees that oversaw the workings of the Meeting and its obligations. She also served as Treasurer for a few years, a job which she liked about as much as she liked weeding her mother’s asparagus! Her voice was one which was always listened to, for although she spoke out quietly and seldom, her wisdom came through clearly and we recognized its worth.
Her greatest gift to the Meeting, though, was not on committee work but with one-to-one interactions with others. She had an intuitive way of seeing who in a crowded room was in need of an ear, and she provided it. She was always present to those around her in a way that said, “I’m here for you, to listen, to share and be together. I am your friend.” She made particular friends of many of us, and as was said at her memorial service, “I thought I was her best friend!” Many of us felt that way; that was her gift to us. She loved the people around her, and was nonjudgmental, accepting people as they were and appreciating the traits they had that showed their humanity. She remembered people's stories, and families, and always was on tap with an ear when needed.
Natalie’s ministry went beyond the Meeting and its offices. She also went into the community to spread warmth and understanding. An accomplished and sensitive artist, for years she volunteered every Sunday afternoon to sit at the reception table at Round Top Center of the Arts, welcoming people and directing them to the exhibits on the walls.
Natalie was also well known at Cove’s Edge Nursing Home, where her mother lived. She would go and visit her mother every day, and often brought one of her three greyhound dogs, who brought their dog joy with them. Everyone loved the dogs, including the patients, staff, visitors, and volunteers. The dogs were calm and nurturing to all who approached them, and they loved the attention. Natalie had become involved with greyhounds when she set up a shelter for dogs who had run their last race and were about to be put down. She took the dogs in and found good homes for them. She was living in Massachusetts at the time, and when she moved to Maine, she found others to take over the shelter for her.
In Maine she often shared her home with others, having long-term boarders and guests with never a hesitation. She shared her art with anyone who would listen, encouraged budding artists, was generous with materials and advice, and never ever stood as a professional above those who were just beginning. Natalie was the perfect teacher, for she showed, encouraged, and then stood back.
These traits entered into her relations with others. Her habit of opening her arms wide as she approached you and saying loudly, “Honey!!” and then giving you a big hug made you think you were the only one she wanted to see at that moment. We all need that kind of a welcome frequently. She was a one-person Ministry & Counsel at its best. We will miss her.
(this Memorial Minute can also be found in the September 06 newsletter)