Monday, October 13, 2008

Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me

(Bruddah Iz singing Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World; one of Ruthie's favorite songs)

Life speeds by, and you try to hang on. Sometimes it brings joy, and it feels great. And sometimes it lands a punch that sucks the air out of your gut, and you are stunned, trying to figure out what to do next.

And sometimes you feel like Joe Frazier in The Thrilla In Manilla; battered and beaten by Ali during several rounds. When the final knock-out blow comes, it's both expected, and a relief: you won't get hit anymore today.

After scoring some big points in the late rounds, Ruth Anderson was finally knocked to the canvas last night. The final bell rang at 9:20 P.M. Saturday night, with virtually her whole family in her corner, telling her how much she was loved. While heartbroken, we were relieved that she won't feel any more blows landed by cruel fate.

I have no idea where the boxing metaphor came from. Perhaps because we told her how proud we were that she had fought so strongly against the pneumonia after her hip surgery. And we all told her that she was the glue that held the Anderson family together. Now we have to carry on: the 3 remaining children (myself, Johanna, and Matt). We all have various support systems we will lean on, including each other. But we three are orphans now. We have, among us, one wife, one husband, four children, and one grandchild. And they are enriched by having known "Nana".

But for us, the Anderson children, life has become more sad than we could have imagined. We were indeed hardened and prepared by the blows she suffered the last few weeks, so her death came as no real surprise. But we still held out hope. And we lost.

I knew her for 59 years, and still didn't know her well enough. We talked often, at least every other day. Yet I didn't get down to see her often enough. Do you think you have time to tell someone how much they mean to you, how they have helped shape your life, how much you love them? You're a fool. You have no time, life proves that. Call them, tell them you love then, act like you care if you really do. Because you, like me, may run out of time. I have questions I need to ask her, history to clarify, family to understand. And I can't do that now, because she's not where I can reach her. And while I am richer for having known her, I am poorer for having lost what she still might have helped me with.

She had no patience for whiners, so I won't whine. She helped us all out, materially and emotionally. And now we have to pass that on. And here's something she did just Friday that I will pass on to you out there: She voted.

She had asked for her absentee ballot, so Matt brought it to the ICU Friday. Pam & Matt helped her fill it out, and she even signed it. It was probably the last really conscious thing she did, and she did it proudly.

She was determined to vote, so that McCain would go down in defeat; so that CA Prop 8 (anti-same sex marriage) would be defeated; so that we would have a change in direction and leadership in this country.

My mom was a proud liberal, who voted with her last breath. If she can do it, so can you. Vote, for your children, for the lives of others, for the nation's future.

Ruthie did. And so can you.

Helen Ruth Anderson
8.18.1926 - 10.11.2008

Thanks, Mom.

Here's Louis Armstrong singing "Wonderful World":

Update: A special post from Sailor at his home blog deserves attention. Truly loving and graceful. Thanks, my friend:
The Godspeed for Ruth