When I was younger, hardly anyone I knew died. All but one of my grandparents were dead long before my birth. But people I knew died only once every two or three years if that often. As I got older, more of them moved away, especially to Florida and Arizona, and then died. But lately, those who leave permanently are getting more numerous. Every year at the Oscar ceremony, the Academy says goodbye to the actors and directors we've become not only familiar with but grown to love. And for every one of them who passes, there's more people I know personally.
I've been thinking of this more often now because of Martha. Martha has been one of my best friends ever. And she's leaving us. Karen, one of her other friends, says, "I think I intuited this was happening to her maybe 4-5 years ago because of the nature of our calls, then their thinning out, then ceasing completely, and the cease of e-mails." I know what she mean about Martha's "disappearance" oh so gradually.
Martha as we knew her--with her vibrant, brilliant, beautiful, and mischievous spirit, the strong, creative teacher, artist, mother, and grandmother who loved to cook so much they tore out half their downstairs to create a huge kitchen with a professional range, who taught her beloved Ruby to play the recorder, the piano, and the violin--has left the stage. Still, she began with so much more than just about anyone else I know on the planet, so even her diminishing leaves her ahead of most of us. She informed me in a recent out-of-the-blue phone call that she has a full-time job, though unpaid, helping out where she lives--she has moved to a nursing home specializing in persons with brain injuries (including dementia and related ailments). She's still reaching out to people, still teaching--calligraphy!--helping fill her fellow residents' days with accomplishment. Still, we weep, even though she's not dead.
My own much more unprepossessing life is going down the rabbit hole, too. My days are very different now from what they were. By choice. I'm thinking more, rereading my beloved books more, remembering the past more even as I forget just about any odd piece of recent information on any given day. Swimming has become less of an athletic chore and more of the joyous splashing and paddling I did at Lake Sallie. Walking has become something I do to save money as well as my arteries. It's all good.