I just refound and read it because I came across an obituary in the paper this morning that read:
Phyllis Lindsey Straus was born on July 20, 1928. She died peacefully in her bed next to her beloved dog Solly on April 19, 2013. There is no doubt that if she could have chosen her death that would have been it.
There is more. The tender, bare outline of her life events but it is in those first lines that I am dumbfounded because in the conversation we had which sparked the post, that is exactly how I told her I wished she would die.
And she did it.
I am thinking about her this morning and how I'd see her car at the Post Office, a beat-up old Volvo with a Janet Reno for Governor bumpersticker on it. She was not a small woman, she was a woman who even as she became frailer and slower you could just look at and know that once she had been very powerful, very strong, and she had to have been in order to do the giant sculpture that she did. She had those bright blue piercing eyes. She was fiercely independent. She was something.
When I lived in the house she had bought from us and that she died in, I had planted a rose on the garden fence and it was the reddest, most blooming, fragrant rose I've ever seen and ever since I've been trying to figure out what its name was but I have never been able to and none of the roses I've looked at after talking to nursery people are the same. I wonder if that rose was still growing in her yard because if it was, it was probably blooming when she died.
I hope it was. With all my heart, I hope it was.
I am thinking about that and her and I am thinking of how that little Cracker house which I did love so very much had two front doors and I was told that back when the house was built, that's how they did it. One door was used for the everyday comings-in and goings-out of the living and the other only used for coffins to enter and leave, empty and then filled. I wonder if they passed Phyllis out that door. I doubt it. Who observes customs like that anymore?
It doesn't matter.
What matters is that Phyllis Straus was able to die there, in her home that she loved with her dog whom she adored, some of her giant sculptures in the yard, her art which gave her life purpose.
Well. It is a slow, quiet day in Lloyd and one of our inhabitants is gone and has been for a month and a half and I am not sorry she's gone because the way she left was perfect and exactly what she wanted. I am not sad at all, but thrilled for her. She got that job done and she did it right.
I would wish the same for all of us- such a death.
Meanwhile, life goes on for us who still live here. I took my walk and I saw a few people and said hello and I've taken the trash and gone to the Post Office where I will never see that Volvo again and don't remember rightly the last time I DID see it but I don't think it was that long ago. We never did talk again, me and Phyllis. We didn't have to. We said what we needed to say when we had that conversation back in January of 2012. And I'm glad we said it.
All right. I've got stuff to do. The living are so busy, aren't we? But I'm thinking about Phyllis and I'm thinking about that house I loved and over the course of this one morning two magnolias which I can see from where I write on the back porch have opened up from their tight buds into full-flung and white-petaled flowers and their scent drifts on the air. It all goes by so quickly. Pay attention and do whatever it is that makes you feel alive because life is so short and the years that we can do what we love are even shorter.
Happy Friday, y'all.