glory - n. magnificent.
A woman who, born when she was, became a librarian, traveled the world, raised two children, hunted and killed and prepped and cooked wild game with her own hands, played bridge well enough to give competitors the hives, loved and lived the oceanside and the mountains with equal ease, ran a business, helped build a library for a people who weren’t sure they wanted one, let her man run their affairs even though she was probably better able than he . . .
that woman is, in a word, magnificent. She could not have been better named had her parents actually seen her future with their own eyes.
Gloria traversed the Nile and the fjords. She was a great cook and a strong woman. She loved passionately, albeit with clear eyes. She was no sentimentalist. She was a woman of the earth – this earth, where her feet were always firmly planted.
So her life, so her faith – a practical thing that didn’t get talked much, but got lived every day.
She was a citizen in the best sense of the word, thinking it her duty to do something when something needed doing. She was informed about world events. She voted. She participated. And when a neighbor needed help, she helped.
She was a woman sure in her own skin, never threatened by other women.
And then came the time when she needed the helping. That wasn’t so easy for a woman accustomed to being the one doing the taking care. But she was always gracious about it (well, almost always – I suspect she’s still trying to figure who ratted her driving out to the police).
In her last days, she would insist on holding her own cup even though her own fingers could no longer make the shape to hold it. And she would thank you for allowing her this dignity, this grace of trying.
And in those last days, she asked after others, wanting to know from her own dying bed how Harriett was doing and whether Laura had come home from the hospital yet.
She missed her therapy group (you know who you are) in her last year, but bowed away graciously when she could no longer hold or see the cards.
And she resented it terribly that her good friend Sue, 7 years her senior, was so much more fit than she. In some ways, that competition kept her going, for if Sue could do it, surely she could too.
I picture her husband Don, gone on before, in the fall – showing me the best places to find nuts fallen from the trees and when to get there before the greedy bears, getting out of the hospital and stopping off to get a turkey, crawling back and dragging the turkey behind him.
But it is in spring that my thoughts turn to glorious Gloria, who had faith enough to invite this old woman to come and be her preacher.
Left in winter, it is in the greening time she is missed.