It’s hard to know the entirety about a person even when you see them often. We tend to group people into family, friends, work colleagues, acquaintances, but in all of those labels there are those who don’t fit or who fit into more than one.
My friend, Anne was like that. I met her at church. For a long time, I didn’t know her name. She sat two rows behind me, and every daily mass that we attended together, we’d shake hands and share the peace of Christ. She always smiled at me, and reached across the separating pew, and I looked forward to our daily rite.
She knew my name before I knew hers. Even after knowing her better, I would always confuse her last name with her first name since her last name was also a first name.
She was also part of the Red Hats group that I lunched with monthly. She never wore a hat, but she always had on a brightly colored jacket and scarf. She was always put together, and she had a brightness that expounded on her outfit.
She always welcomed me, and asked about my kids.
I saw her sometimes in the grocery store.
We had one of our Red Hat luncheons at her house, just last year, and I saw her collections from her travels. One was a miniature tea pot with a red dragon on it from Wales. Her house was full of greens, and her back porch was almost identical in shape to ours, so she let me take a few pictures for my husband who’s been wanting to make ours more functional and less storage. She even invited him over to take a look at how theirs was decorated to give him some ideas.
We disagreed vehemently on politics, but the few conversations we had proved to be more discourse than argument, and a benefit to us both.
She was just so kind to me, and vibrant. She had a booming way of talking, but she didn’t leave you being shouted at. She was just full of spirit.
She died last week. She suddenly became sick and that became worse, and than something else happened, and it just limped along, but her faith kept her. Her family and friends visited, and she called on our priest to come to see her, as recently as a few days before she died.
When I read her obituary, I discovered things I hadn’t known.
For one thing, she was 82. I know that my Red Hats group tends to be older, but I would have pegged her for 70 at the most, and more likely I thought she was in her sixties.
She was born in the town where I went to college, and in fact attended that college, studying education as I did. We graduated thirty-one years apart, both with Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Education. I don’t think either of us knew that we had that in common. Our school’s mascot is a Red Dragon, like the national symbol of Wales.
In realizing that she had been a teacher I could now recognize how she spoke. Teachers have this way of getting things across, and Anne was no different.
Her funeral is tomorrow.
She was steadfast and kind, faithful and spirited.
She will be greatly missed.