Sunday, December 2, 2007
The slender volume of dark maroon leatherette was on the stand next to her bed. The cover said "Senior Memories 1952" in silver debossed lettering. Inside were many casual photographs of her- playing sports, clowning with her best friend , skating in an exhibition.
Her senior portrait showed off a modest smile. She wore her brunette hair not unlike Audrey Hepburn's. A single strand of pearls accented her sweater. Her intense blue eyes stared out into a world full of promise. Each graduate's picture bore a caption, hers was "A lily girl, not meant for this world's pain". It would prove more prophetic than anyone could have imagined at the time.
She endured more than her share of this world's pain. Her years of skating as a teenager, compounded by pregnancies, caused severe back problems in her young adulthood and a premature onset of arthritis. Medical science responded in imperfect ways, including the introduction of pain medications whose presence caused dependency. Her mobility diminished with each passing year but her spirit did not.
There were emotional pains as well. Two miscarriages, including one which would have provided a badly wanted daughter. A failed marriage later in life, the loss of her own mother to whom she was extremely close. And yet her will to live was undeterred.
We spoke briefly on Friday. I had gotten in too late on Thanksgiving to call from California. When I reached her, she seemed sleepy. I told her to rest, and that I would call her later. "I love you, Mom", I said as I hung up the phone.
We found her on her sofa with her hands peacefully clasped, as if she had laid down for a nap and simply did not awaken. Five days short of her seventy fourth birthday, her pain finally ceased.
I've returned to Michigan in the winter for the first time in fifteen years. I always come in the summertime. She's commented before how I've been back for Dad's birthday but not hers. The irony was not lost on me as I boarded the plane on December first- she finally got me to come back on her birthday.
She is laid out in pink, because she loved pink. She was a girly kind of girl at heart. She'll be wearing her Macewen sash, honoring her Scottish heritage. My brother has arranged for a piper to play for her. Following services on Monday, she will be laid to rest alongside her mother. Both my darling girls will be together.
Rest well, lily girl. There will never be another like you.