Getting news this morning of Wilma's death wasn't a total shock to me. My mother, who still prefers to write letters over all forms of communication with relatives, wrote of the failing health of her 90-year-old friend just last week.
Wilma went peacefully, in the wee hours of the morning. She was alone in her room, in her own bed, with her older daughter sleeping in another room of the house.
The news came in a very impersonal way, but that wasn't a problem for me. Her younger daughter, a very close friend in my growing-up years, somehow had my husband's e-mail address in her address book, instead of mine. Fortunately, he saw it and called it to my attention immediately.
Wilma's death put me immediately into a process of good grief. She had a very good life, full of much happiness. And she spread that happiness to many. Her older daughter in a retired psychologist who does a lot of volunteer work these days. Her younger an outstanding professional pianist. Her son, the baby of the family, who was a dear playmate despite the fact that he served me right on one occasion in my teens, by holding me down long enough to rub Vaseline in my hair when I wouldn't stop annoying him, is today following in his father's footsteps as a very successful businessman. All are testaments of their mother's watchcare. Wilma had a voice that was like music when she spoke--even when she was firm or needed to raise it. She was a woman of great confidence in her ability to set limits, to the point that I would not have dared question those limits or do anything to displease her.
Her death stands in sharp contrast to a lot of griefs I've sustained in my life when friends or family made decisions that had repercussions that brought grief of a different flavor. She leaves behind so many intangible gifts and an internal voice that will never die for me, as long as I live.
She was one of several women who have helped to shape my thinking and the way I view the world. All of them such blessings!
It's still grief I'm experiencing. Yet this is the Charlie Brown variety that has my heart feeling light and grateful.