Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thoughts at year's end
The word pansy comes from the French pensee, meaning thought, and on this overcast, slightly melancholy day, my thoughts are turning to losses of the past year. My neighbor Mearl, a strong mountain woman who was the inspiration for many of my characters, left us in April. Her house is empty and lonely-looking, though her children keep the yard and pastures as tidy as if Mearl were looking over their shoulders -- as she probably is.
The author Madeleine L'Engle is gone -- and I bitterly regret that I never got around to writing her a fan letter to say how much joy her work has brought me over the years. Death can be so final for those of us left behind with things undone.
Rennie, another neighbor, but unlike Mearl, far too young for this final passage, fell ill while a group of us were working on a long-postponed friendship quilt for her and her husband. She had treatment and seemed to be holding her own so, though the quilt was completed, we waited to surprise her with it at a time when her daughters could be with her. Her sudden death caught us all by surprise; the quilt was presented to her family at a memorial service.
Years ago when my father died, my brother and I were cleaning out his home. In the back of his refrigerator was a bottle of very good champagne which my husband and I had given my parents for an anniversary some ten years before. "Oh, it's so expensive," they said. "We'll save it for another time." A few years after that anniversary, my mother died and my father moved, taking the champagne with him, still waiting for the right moment.
My brother and I decided not to let this go any farther. That evening we opened the expensive champagne, poured it out into my mother's crystal and prepared for a treat.
Of course it had turned to vinegar.