Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rest in peace

Today I got a phone call from James to tell me that Martha passed away some time over the weekend, he wasn't sure when...and they had just told him today.

Martha was one of the people I would see weekly at the facility that I volunteer at. I think I have been visiting Martha about 6 years or so.  She was one of the most interesting people I have ever met, she had a dry and outrageous sense of humor, and she would say the wisest things to me....usually about taking care of business and not sweeping something under the rug, about not sweating the small stuff, and about enjoying every minute of things that you can, because it just all comes and goes so fast. 

She wore a necklace that had runes on it, and whenever a topic of something metaphysical would come up, she would always wink at me with a smile.  She was very well read and watched the news on PBS and was totally versed on current events.  As sharp as a tack as she was, in these last couple of years, she would get confused from time to time.  She would sometimes talk about how she was planning on moving out into her own apartment (and as far as I could glean, that was not even remotely an option).

She did talk about her father quite a bit, but she would never answer questions for me about whether she had been married or not.  I know she never had kids. I have always had this sneaking suspicion that she may have had a female partner but I never did confirm that, because I was too shy to ask. It seemed like prying. I do know that over the years that I visited Martha, she had a friend that would come pick her up every other week or so and drive her to her post office box...but I only ever saw the person once as they were driving away.  I have no way of knowing if there are family or friends that are planning a funeral or memorial, and of course, the convalescent hospital cannot divulge that sort of information to me because I am not family.  TheMostImportantGuy and I  did a search on the internet today but came up empty handed.

It could be that nothing has been planned. It could be that there is no one to plan it.

I knit that shawl she is wearing in the photo, by the way.  She tried it on after I finished it and it suited her so well, I gave it to her.
Funny thing?
At present, that shawl happens to be here, in my house.

The pink shawl I gave her is on the bottom/left, and I also knit the lighter pink one on the upper/right.  I was going to enter one or the other (or both) in my local County Fair this year, as entering was one of the goals for the year that I had set for myself back in January.  Martha had loaned the shawl back to me so I could enter it if I wanted to.

I never entered the Fair.
I was about to.  I was all jazzed up about it actually, and then one day I was talking to a friend and she implied that winning my local county fair wasn't very prestigious because the local competition wasn't very challenging.  She sort of implied that I needed to "enter a good fair," if winning was to mean anything really, and there was something about that whole conversation that sort of took the wind out of my sails, and I never got around to entering (granted, the days I would have brought it in for entry were the very same days that the pluming had broken and the ceiling had fallen in and the kitchen was down to the wire...but still).

I never entered.
And the deadline passed, and I could have just kicked myself for not following through on something I had set as a goal for myself, and for allowing the opinions of others to lead my around in such a way. I was supposed to return it to Martha this week, and I was dreading telling her that I never entered, because she knew that this would be the third year I talked about entering, and didn't.  I knew that once I told her I didn't do it that she'd read me the riot act.....quietly....probably just by raising her eyebrow and looking down her nose at me a little bit...and then laughing.  She was funny like that.

Every week Martha would ask me what was new , and I would tell her stories about what was going on in my life, and if she even caught a whiff that I was doing something half-assed, she would often give me this look that was something like, "You can do better than that," but not in a way that made me feel like a failure. More like she knew what I was capable of and was wondering why I didn't apply myself.  It was always done lovingly and with encouragement.  I never felt like a loser, just like I should try harder, because I could.
I'm not sure if that makes any sense. 

And so now here I have this shawl of Martha's.

If it really is true that there is no family to clear out Martha's personal items, I know that it would have gone straight into the garbage or it may have been washed in hot water and sanitizing who-knows-what and then it would have been thrown into a donations box with the rest of her belongings.

I  know that the shawl is a nice thing to have, and I know that timing is strange thing, and I know that the mysterious way of the universe is probably bringing the shawl back to me so that I will have this reminder of Martha...something of hers that was special for both of us....a keepsake.

But right this very minute it just does not feel nice having it.
It feels sad.

I am very very sad.


Jen Anderson said...

So sad that she's gone. And it stinks that we as a society haven't figured out a way to give rights to friends - so many of us end up with families of choice instead of families of blood, yet if there's next of kin to include the friends, then the friends just get shut out.

JohnK said...

Beautiful and magical xxoo j.

Anonymous said...

Hugs to you. Sandy

Laura said...

Hi Ms. Amputeehee,

I have been "lurking" (as you put it in one of your recent posts) around your blog for almost a year now after I found it through a random knitting-related google search. I am very very sorry to hear about your friend's passing. It must be so hard to feel out of the loop when you want so much to feel included. My heart ached when you described looking for a memorial service notice and coming up empty handed--that is just so tough. I truly hope you feel some peace soon.

Also, congrats on the kitchen, your knitting is beautiful, and I love the pics of your animals! :D


P.S. I hope it is not totally weird and creepy that some random stranger posts on your blog, but if it is... sorry!

Ruth Spears said...

Keep the shawl. She would have wanted you to have it.

Jean said...

Que sera sera.

~Donna~ said...

Sorry to hear about your friend Martha. Big Hugs to you.

Can you enter it in the State Fair or has that deadline passed?

If it has...maybe you can knit something new and beautiful in her memory next year and submit it to the 2013 Fair, no matter what anyone says.

kimberly said...

I am sorry. I had a Martha once. People like that are so special.

Anonymous said...

You have your very special memories of Martha to treasure. They will outlast the sadness -- though it may take a while.

As for local fairs ... Could it possibly be that the **reason** the competition/skill level of the entries is low is because good needlecrafters don't enter? And that if they did, the skill level would go up? And more people would become interested in the arts? Huh? Huh?

Phooey on the spoilsport who discouraged you.

--Lynda in Oregon

Lorena said...

I keep holding onto this post, trying to come up with something brilliant and heartfelt to say... alas, I got nothin'. Live like Martha would have wanted you to, and celebrate the places inside of you that she's touched. XOXO.