Good morning and a Happy Memorial Day. Funny thing that we would say, Happy Memorial Day. It doesn't seem right to wish someone a Happy day when it is such a somber day of remembering. A day to reflex on the greatness of men and women and the sadness of the fact that we need the protection. A sadness that there is always danger lurking about us and our country. Gratitude for all those who have braved it and fought to keep us all safe. Thank you to every one of those amazing individuals.
As for my blog, I know that it is memorial day, and I have thought about many who have gone to their graves, and wondered whether of not any of them every had a inkling whether or not their life here on earth was coming to an end.
I can't imagine what the last days of life are like, but this blog is about a dear friend and the approach to her last days.
Her name was Margie. She was one of my Red Hatters and also a very dear friend. Margie was one of those types of woman who truly embraced life. She was always up to a challenge and always there to boost another person up. At least, that was the way I viewed her. She was an amazing porcelain artist, was always willing to learn to paint in other ways. She was in many galleries around Illinois and knew how to promote herself, but not only did she promote and encourage herself, she did the same for me. She always encouraged me to do more. She fluffed my feathers and made me feel as though I should have the courage to do more! I loved that about her.
We shared many moments of joy and laughter, along with moments of tears and sadness. We spoke of our similarities and our differences. We grew and learned from each with each time we were together.
Well, here is where the question begins. One night, our Red Hatters were meeting in an Italian restaurant in Grayslake. It was the week of Margie's Birthday. Now, we never really celebrate anyone's birthday in Red Hat unless we pick a day and celebrate everyone's day at the same time. But, for this particular birthday, Margie chose to do something special. The following week, Margie was scheduled to go into the hospital for a knee replacement. So, the night of our dinner...Margie pulled out a sheet of paper that she had written a letter to us on. She proceeded to read the letter to all the girls in attendance. She basically wanted all of us to know what an important part we were in her life. How she felt that we had become part of her family. She continued with telling us how important our moments together were. She shared with us that on her way home from the events, her cheeks would literally hurt from all the laughter of the evening. upon finishing her letter, she reaching into a shopping bag and began to dispense a small present to each of us there. She said that in honor of her birthday, she wanted to give US a present. Each of us opened our gifts, only to find one of her beautiful porcelain ornaments. In those moments, all of us got pretty teary eyed and I decided I needed to same something to take the tension off. So, I joked about the type of star in my box. You see, Margie was Jewsih...and my star was a 5 point star! We just laughed....because between us...our differences never made any difference!
Well, we enjoyed the rest of the evening. We all bid each other farewell, and some of the girls that came with me got into my car. when I closed the door and started the engine, I merely stated that I had a very bad feeling about that night. I couldn't explain it...it was just a feeling.
A feeling that hit the nail on the head. A couple of days later...Margie had gotten some terrible leg cramps...they were so bad that she was rushed to the hospital. Turned out that a vein had burst and there was all type of surgeries, infections,, and then a graph. Now this was days before the knee replacement was to have taken place. In the craziness of everything that had happened....all the tests that were taken....it was discovered that Margie had stage 4 colon cancer...which spread to the liver.
Now, I didn't ever want anything bad to happen to such a dear friend, but that day when she made that speech and gave us those ornaments keeps resounding in my head. Margie went through radiation and chemo and braved many days ahead. Unfortunately, the cancer won the following March. I often sit and wonder whether Margie had a second sense to the fact that something was wrong. I will never learn that answer. All I do know is that through her normal generosity and love for us, she was able to say a goodbye and leave us something to remind us of her. Each time I look at that star, I remember the joy and the laughter. I think of her courage in those final months. I think about the hope and dreams that she had. I think of her smiling face and her hurting cheeks and feel glad that we had those times together.
One of the things that we did together as red hatters was a calendar. Now, I must tell you that our kids were not exactly on board about us doing this....they weren't quite ready to accept that moms could be human. Well, in the last days of Margie's life...it was US that she asked for. It was to see the Red Hatters in all of their Red and Purple regalia. Her daughter noticed the change in her mom when we visited. She sat in the hospital room and listened as we shared and reminisced over all the wonderful and crazy things we had down together. She saw her mother in a whole new light. I might say, that was a gift to Margie's daughter!
At the Shiva, with all the wonderful photos displayed throughout the house, there sat the calendar. Her daughter revealed to me her shame in not understanding what that meant to her mother until then. That she had not recognized the WOMAN her mother was....she had only seen her as the MOM. Because of the Red Hats, she had now seen the woman behind the closed door. The real woman she was proud to call MOM. That was a very special moment for me. A moment that I knew Margie could look down and see. A moment of complete satisfaction.
Whether Margie knew something was about to take her life or not, I am pleased that for whatever reasons, she did what she did!
So today, my memorial day...I give a nod to Margie.