Last night my husband and I were watching us special on public television about some historical events in Portland, and I suddenly had the urge to look up the name of someone who had a great impact on me when I was a young woman. I hadn’t run into her for a few years and hadn’t taken the time to keep in touch, because she lived so close and well you never expect anything to really change.
From age 17 to 20, I worked in a retail job where I built close relationships with a number of women who I always considered my aunties. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a number of older women in my life who have given me guidance and love and the support I’d always been lacking in my own family. Lydia (at right, above) was one of them, and one of those people that even if you don’t keep in touch you know that it’s okay and that the next time you see them you’ll hug them tight, because that’s just how it is with you two. I always looked forward to her visits with her sister to my store, where I always had something special set aside for her. I remember even once I was ringing them up and mentioned I had a final at the University and had to rush to catch the bus , and she insisted on driving me to class. They always made me feel special, and like my other personal customers (including Shirley, who sang at my wedding 20+ years later), must have known I needed looking out for.
I typed her name online last night and discovered that Lydia died exactly one month ago at the age of 80. Next week I will go to a service honoring her life and legacy that she left in our community. I knew she was an educator and I knew how many people loved her, but it wasn’t until I read her obituary that I learned how truly deeply she had left her mark in the community.
For some reason as the years go by we forget that the people and our lives are also getting older, and no matter how many people you lose it still is easy to forget this, to take that time. I had told my husband that I had run into or just a couple of years ago when I pulled up the blog post I had written about it and realized it had been 5 years. How could I have left this for 5 years? The year I met him was the year I last saw her, how is that even possible I thought to myself…
But it happens. And while she is gone now, I am so glad to have known her and just wanted to you to know about this wonderful woman. She makes me want to do better, to be better, to live and love better.
Here is the blog post that I wrote back then about her, and here is her obituary so you can learn more about her. She never had biological children and I don’t know why, but we were all her children, it is undeniable. And that gave me pause. Whether we have been fortunate enough to have had children, we all have the capacity to be mothers.
May we all be such forces of nature by the time we leave this earth. May we start the journey now. May we remember who inspired us, and use that to inspire others.
Tell me, who has inspired you? Who has looked out for you? Who has made lemonade out of lemons?