It seems like all we do lately is say how sad we are that somebody died. MJ was a shock, Patrick Swayze was really sad. Farrah, etc, etc. Yesterday I learned of the loss of two women, one famous, and one not so much, which saddened me much more than any of the others before.
My mom is a very kind soul. She wouldn't hurt a fly and she always wears rose-colored glasses. This can both be a good thing and a bad thing, but it's something I love about my mom. She doesn't judge people, she tries to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and she likes to "Live and let live". My mom also loves to sing. In this weird, slightly operatic, slightly off tune voice. Which drove me nuts when I lived at home, but I now find myself singing to myself all the time (I guess I'm turning into my mother...). As far back as I can remember, my mom listened to Peter, Paul and Mary. I don't know what it was about the music, but I just loved it. The harmony, the song lyrics, the messages underneath the lyrics, and the fact that they continued to sing those songs as they aged, just spoke volumes to me. I remember loving the stories behind the songs, the emotion put into the lyrics. "Puff the Magic Dragon" will still, to this day, make me cry for lost childhood dreams, forgotten childhood experiences, and all the innocence and wonder that exists in childhood. For some reason, I drew parallels with Mary Travers and my mom. Mary was in a band with two men, and she often carried the tune, made the transitions, or started the song. In other words, she was a leader, in a time when women were not really leaders and were trying to change their position. My mom was that way, too, working as a mathematician for the Navy, surrounded by men in every position above and below her. Yet, she embraced it and did what she could to keep her job and move up in the ranks. Mary Travers never changed her position on war - I remember Peter, Paul and Mary singing at the protests against the Iraq war. I remember thinking, wow, how amazing to keep your convictions all these years, to stick to them and to continue the movement they were so integral to starting. I am so grateful that strong women like Mary Travers (and my mom) preceded me and paved a path on which I would build my career and my life as I want to.
The other person who passed away recently was Mrs. H. Mrs. H was an old family friend; a matriarch of the H family which has been close to my family for years. My grandparents met Mr. and Mrs. H upon moving into Ojai in the 60s. It was back when there were "Welcome wagons" int he community and Mrs. H was the first to greet my family. She noticed that my grandparents had 3 boys - she also had 3 kids - and they got together and were friends ever since. Mrs. H was the quinessential grandparent as long and I knew her. She lived on a ranch in Ojai that had acres and acres of orange trees. Mrs. H canned and cooked like nobody's business. She was a wonderful host, but was not afraid to put on her overalls and get out in the barn and deal with the chickens. We lost Mr. H several years ago, to many different illnesses. Mrs. H carried on, renting out her house and living in a small mobile home on the property. When it became obvious she could no longer live on her own, she was moved nearer her son, and she passed away in her sleep. Mrs. H always made me feel loved an welcome in her house, she always took time out to talk to everyone, be a part of everyones lives. And she seemed to know that the simplest things in life are the best. I don't recall her owning a TV (maybe a small set for the kids) and I do remember sitting in the hot tub with all her grandkids. My Dad used to visit her every time he was in Ojai, and he always came home with another jar of something Mrs. H had canned. I used to send her Christmas cards, and she always wrote back, marveling that someone had remembered "an old lady". She loved Las Vegas, and we all headed out there for her 80th birthday party. The H family has always been a part of our family, and I feel very saddened at the loss of sucha wonderful, loving woman. I know her spirit is passed on to her children and her grandchildren and I am just so thankful to have known her.