Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goodbye to a Lady I Never Knew

My friend's mom has passed away. I guess I'm at that age, as it's happening more and more, of late. I don't have a photo with this post because I didn't really know my friend's mom. I met her only once and when I did she had a puff of white hair,  perfectly coiffed to companion a crinkly, grandmotherly face. A secret, pale pink smile flashed and then retreated as we spoke and I couldn't help but notice how this woman who'd held so many burdens carried herself with such a delicate step. Her years should have weighed her down, as I feel mine do me, and yet she floated.

She wore the comfortable cottons of a person who valued practicality and she had the working hands of a woman who'd raised nearly a dozen children over the course of a lifetime. She was tired when I met her and on her way, although it took these many years since our meeting for her to find her rest.

I've known two of her daughters, eight of her grandchildren, two of her sons-in-law, and heard endless stories about the dozens who complete this woman's legacy. Every year her children, now spread across the country and abroad, gather for a "cousin's camp" at one family member's home on the West Coast, a tradition so fine my children have longed to be a cousin so they could join in the fun.

The ties that bind stretch and fray among hers, as they do in all families, but I marvel at the strength of values she must have imparted which keeps these disparate beings so closely connected. They love one another, still and truly.

Her children are professionals, artists, laborers and writers. They have marriages and children and homes and books and flowers in their gardens. She created a living tapestry of all the things she valued and some things she never tried. Her children and grandchildren have played music and laughed and hugged and slept deeply from a good tire.

No one but a relative few will even know she is gone, really, and the world kept going on the day she died. But for some quiet moments when I learned the news, I noticed her. I sat and thanked her spirit for the friendship her daughters have gifted me, for the memories I get to keep filled with her grandchildren, for the example she extended to me though she never knew.

Her children were relieved to know she passed in peace, accepting and knowing. I was glad, too, and said goodbye to a lady I never knew.

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