Friday, October 13, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Last Friday one of the ladies in my seniors' group died. I didn't know Edna very well, and I have always regretted that. When I first joined the group 3 years ago, I was the only one under 65, and I felt a bit timid about joining a group who all seemed to have been together a long time. Edna didn't sit near me, so it wasn't as easy to get into conversation with her as with the ladies on either side of me. (Each of us has 'her' seat, and these only change as members leave the group; we make room for new members as they come). Plus Edna was much more of a seamstress than a knitter or crocheter, and I haven't sewed in 30 years. But she was always pleasant to me, and had a great, quirky smile. She made beautiful pieced quilts, all of which went to help keep an invalid warm.

Edna was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2004, and had lots of complications. Her chemo treatments had to stop whenever they interfered with her diabetes, so that took a long time. Of course she wasn't able to come to our group very often, but when she did she was always so spunky and only regretted that she didn't have the strength to do all that she wanted to be doing. I was a member of the Crochet Guild then, and I received Crochet! Magazine as a part of the membership. One issue had a pattern for crocheted Wiggies, a chemo hat crocheted with Lion Brand Fun Fur. I made one for Edna and took it to her home. She was so pleased with it I was a bit embarrassed, since it seemed like such a small thing. She put it on right then, and called her husband to come look. She wore it the next time she made it to group, and told everyone about it. I blushed a lot. Edna came less and less frequently as her struggle with the cancer went on, and she nearly always wore the Wiggie. When she finally had to use a wheelchair, her daughter would bring her every now and then. Edna still smiled and cracked a few jokes, and everyone was glad to see her.

Last Friday her daughter called to tell me that Edna was gone. She said Edna had specifically asked that I get a personal message. I couldn't help but tear up, such a lot of return for my silly little Wiggie. Her husband and her daughter were with her when she went, finally at peace and without pain.

Today was the service to honor and celebrate Edna's life. Only four of us from the group were able to attend, because of health or transportation problems. Her pastor spoke for a bit, reminding us of the portions of the Bible which speak about moving on to another life, about only being asleep for a while. And then Edna's five grandchildren spoke, each of them remembering the great fun they had with their Grammie, taking trips to Laughlin (a family-oriented casino town!) and playing endless games of cards, all sorts of them, with her. Sleepovers, cinnamon toast, love, encouragement: the ordinary and the best parts of their memories of Edna.

If, when I die, I am remembered with even a fraction of that fondness and love, I will die a wealthy woman. I wish I had known Edna better. She was 76.


Grace Yaskovic said...

Barbara I am so sorry to read of the loss of your friend. You may not have had lots of contact with her but when you reached out you made a great impact on her heart. You are a giving loving woman and while I would never wish you a moment less on this earth when your time does come (many many years from now) you WILL be remembered with much much love!! What we give away we get back 10 fold!!!

jayne said...

Thanks for a lovely, heartwarming piece about Edna. Sounds like you did know her a little and that she knew you back. I'm thinking it was probably more than the Wiggie (that is just delightful). It was likely your presence and personality at the seniors group. The two of you have some things in common, and she noticed.

junior_goddess said...

Oh Barbara-

You have "done her proud". There aren't a lot of people who stretch out their hands to the others around them-and she appreciated your efforts. I am sorry to hear about this, I know how tight you are with your group.

Bri McStan said...

Your experience with Edne proves that even the smallest gesture carries great weight. I am sure you will miss her and am sorry for the loss of your friend.

Sandra D said...

Thank you for sharing your story about Edna. I've known that regretful feeling too, when someone I wished I had known better passes away. I agree with the other posters though that you and Edna did have meaningful moments, brought about by your your Wiggie; at a time when others may not be comfortable with terminal illness, and stay away, you reached out. That says a lot about you Barbara, and it's all good!