In less than a week, three people, important to me, died. I have already eulogized two of them...Harold Johnson jr., my friend.... and actor Paul Newman, one of my favorite thespians.
Late last night, I lost my oldest living relative....the youngest child of my great grandmother and father....My great aunt Ret, passed. She was in hospice, so we knew her passing was imminent. She died in her sleep, quietly, just before midnight.
She was born in 1915. She was a classically trained pianist selling her piano only after rheumatoid arthritis in her hands robbed her of playing in her late 70's. She also played violin and mandolin.
Barely five feet tall, she did a lot of living in her time. I can’t personally testify to it because I never really got to know her until after she retired from working in city government. Her life is documented in hundreds and hundreds of photos dating back to when her parents were children. Indeed, she didn’t stop driving until age 91. She voluntarily gave up her license after causing an accident. She said it was time.
I always wanted to be like her when I was younger. She was academically gifted, well educated and very well read, well spoken and loved writing letters. I think I envied her importance because she was the boss where she worked. She always told people that I was going to be mayor of our city one day. I always laughed at that...I love politics...just never had the desire to actually be a politician. I tend to speak what’s on my mind....politicians can’t do that.
While my much younger parents were shunning the computer, saying they were too old to learn, my aunt decided to take classes in order to learn how to work one when she was 92. She got pretty good at it too.
In fairness to my father, my dad, at the age of 80 now has a computer. He’s mastered solitaire, plays movies via his DVD player and even has an email address. His seven year old grandson is schooling him daily. But at least he’s trying.
Toward the end, I think she was just ready to let go. She stopped reading because she needed new glasses, but her optometrist had died. I offered mine, but she said maybe sometime later. He’d been her doctor for as long as I have been alive. She didn’t want to break in another one. I can understand that. Once you get comfortable it’s time to change. Maybe death comes when you no longer want to change.
I know she’s okay now, back with her family, mother, father and six brothers and sisters. The last one...