Thursday, November 24, 2011

More than a Sister-in-Law

I’m Bill McClure’s sister, Mim – officially, Jayne McClure’s sister-in-law.

But, really, Jayne’s sister.

Not because we were very much alike.

I wear make up. Sometimes, when she was dressing up, Jayne wore lipstick.

I’m obsessive/compulsive about almost everything.

Jayne was matter-of-fact, casual, straightforward, practical and brilliant.

I’ve wandered down many woo-woo spiritual paths that Jayne pretty much ignored.

I love my cats. She put up with them.

None of these things mattered.

We pretty much always loved each other because we loved the same people.

But after a while, it was clear that we just plain loved each other.

I admired her as a wife, mother, teacher, citizen, and, finally as my sister.

And I saw her wisdom, and courage, and great, great heart.

Even during her last days.

I loved her. I miss her. I will honor her memory forever.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Memorial Service

     On Saturday, Nov. 19, a memorial service was held for Jayne E. McClure in the Washington Park United Church of Christ church in Denver, Colorado.
     At least 200, probably 300 people came. The church had never been so full. 
     Enlarged photographs of Jayne – as a student teacher, as a bride, as a mother, as a grandmother—were propped up on the circular altar table in the center of the sanctuary. A microphone and music stand were placed next to the piano on the east side of the room. Her immediate family – sons, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and husband sat in the first row on the west side of the room. In other first rows: her sister and her family, her aunt, her great good friends, and her sister-in-law and nephew.
     The service began when her husband, Bill, lighted a single candle. Robert Johnson, a wonderful bass, sang “Lord, Listen to Your Children” as a prelude. The senior minister welcomed everyone, and (as he would throughout the service) helped people find places to sit. Then Robert Johnson sang, “Wade in the Water,” an African American spiritual.
Her son Lance read words by Eleanor Roosevelt – one of Jayne’s heroes. Her former minister and great family friend, Rev. Bob West, read words by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.—another of Jayne’s heroes. Those assembled sang “This Little Light of Mine.”
     The host minister reviewed Jayne’s life. People spoke spontaneously. Her daughter-in-law Kelly read something little granddaughter Iris had dictated. Her older granddaughter Emily spoke eloquently. Then great good friends – fellow teacher – her sister in law, her nephew shared memories, stories, tributes – keeping it short, as Jayne would have wished.
Then her other son, Michael, read “To Autumn,” by John Keats. A young guitarist, J.T. Nolan, performed the song “Timshel.”
     After a benediction, the church music director, Luke Rackers, played an original composition called “Jayne’s Joy.”
     The candle was extinguished.
     People stood and mingled, sharing stories and hugs and passing boxes of tissues. Eventually, people left, many driving across the city for the reception at Jayne’s last home. The reception, the stories, the tears and laughter lasted a long, long time.

The memories of Jayne will last significantly longer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

through a long, dark valley

On October 7, my brother Bill had thyroid surgery. On October 13, his wife Jayne went into the hospital. On October 14, she was moved to intensive care. She died October 17.

Bill had his post op check up Monday, October 31, Halloween. His doctor told him that the tumor they had removed was malignant and that he needed a second operation. Bill told me Friday -- said the operation would be Dec. 16. I couldn't process the information at the time. After he left, I sleepwalked through the afternoon. Saturday, the news sank in. I was devastated.

By Monday, November 7, I had learned that thyroid cancer is the easiest to defeat. Once the thyroid is removed, the cancer is removed.

I felt about six tons lighter. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought.

The universe found a way to drive home the point. I took myself to see a non-mainstream movie in Fort Collins's funky little independent theater. It was a pretty good movie but when I got out, there was a parking ticket on my windshield.

The next morning I opened the parking ticket envelope -- no fine.

Another thing that isn't as bad as I thought it was.

We are going to make it. We’ll make it through Jayne’s memorial service. We’ll make it through Bill’s operation.

This is a long, dark valley but we will emerge. We will be okay.

I insist.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Broken Trees

Last week, a premature snowstorm maimed trees and downed power lines all along Northern Colorado’s Front Range. Over the weekend, another heavy snow maimed trees and downed power lines from Virginia to Maine.

Why is there no eulogy for the broken trees?

Nine years ago when I was looking for a home to buy, I stopped in front of the house with the magnificent maple in the front yard. Now my study looks out into that maple in all its phases – deep mahogany leaves in early spring, jade green in summer, golden in autumn, and skeletal lace in winter (sometimes accessorized with snow).

Last week, I opened my front door to look at a massive four-foot high briar patch spreading from my porch to the street. It took four people three days to clear the debris and trim the mangled branches.

My maple still stands, covered with an icing of new snow – great hunks of it gone forever.

Why is there no eulogy for my broken tree?

It’s been just over two weeks since my sister-in-law died. There will be eulogies for her during a Nov. 19 memorial service. Jayne helped me find my house, as attracted as I was by my magnificent maple. She loved it too.

It is nice to imagine that, in some other sphere of being, she is saying a eulogy for my broken tree.

Thank you, Jayne.