There are a few things that I am looking forward to when I go home for Christmas, one of those being Sunday family dinners with Grandma and Marie.
I got the news last night that Marie passed away that afternoon.
I can't believe Marie won't be at Sunday dinner when I go home.
She was 93. I'm just glad she can be with her husband, Duke, again. He passed on February 2, 2002. You may think it's random that I remember the date, but it was 02/02/02, it was the date that I celebrated my 18th birthday, and it is also Marie's birthday. Oh, and plus, Groundhog Day.
Indulge with me in a short walk down memory lane. I feel like I may never find an appropriate time to recall such memories, so I might as well do it now.
Duke used to sit out on his porch smoking his pipe, watching over the neighborhood. We would wave every time we passed him, and he would always inform my father when some of my friends would drive in an unsafe manner up to our house. Duke would bring over rib bones in a bread bag every once in a while for our dog Sadie. She loved him. Whenever Sadie would get out of our yard, we could usually find her over at Duke's. When she passed away, we buried her on Duke's property. Duke would come over and shoot the breeze with Dad while he was outside working. He'd always call me Trouble, and he was basically right.
After Duke passed, my family started inviting Marie over for dinner on major holidays. Then it became every Sunday. Marie was a very independent woman, full of spunk and drive. She would walk to her church meetings no matter the weather, she could be found climbing ladders, or trying to move something that was way too big for her.
My last memory with Marie took place on a warm Sunday evening in July, the time right after the meal when we are all sitting around on the veranda basking in the happiness of satisfied hunger. We were discussing my imminent move to Chicago, and Marie mentioned that she had spent some time in Chicago. She moved to Chicago by herself to get a job, and because she had been there, and done the exact thing I was about to do, she gave me some advice. First, when you get there, just walk into a business and tell them you are good at typing, and you should get hired on the spot. Second, if you ever get lost, just sit down, take a moment, and find Wells Street. You'll know once you find Wells exactly how to get home.
I had really tried to get the year that she was in Chicago, but every time I would ask, she would just say, "Oh, that was a very long time ago." My guess is that she was here in the late 1930's to early 40's. Anyway, sometimes I think about her when I get lost or when I cross Wells.
Another memory I like is from last Easter, when she found Mary and I in her garden hijacking her blossoms when she came home from church. She didn't mind sharing her blossoms, and it didn't phase her to see us on her property at all. Instead, we had a good conversation about the Risen Lord and what that means to us.
I can't help but contrast this memorial with my Great Grandmother's memorial. Maybe I could have done a better job with Great Grandma's memorial. I do indeed have many memories of her.
I feel blessed to have had the past couple of years to live with my parents and experience all that came with it. I got to know my family better, and I got to know Marie much better as well. Marie lived across the street from me my whole life. She watched me grow up. I guess the point that I'm trying to make, if it is possible, is to become family with your neighbors, and try and have your neighbors be your family.
What do you remember about Marie?