Last winter, I lost a very dear friend to cancer. She was in her 98th year, of Norwegian ancestry, a Minnesotan by birth, a world traveler and citizen by choice, and a lover of beauty in all its forms. She was, as she called herself, an “oh-oh”, an old one.
After reading her poetry, listening to her stories and her insights, I wondered why she didn’t put her thoughts in a book. She wanted anonymity. She did not want to be responsible for the choices others might make. She would not advise. She was simply communicating and sharing her ideas on a personal level with me because we were friends. We were both open-minded, she, broad-minded, and it was our mutual love of beauty that linked us in life. It was her nonjudgmental attitude toward life, toward others, that taught me some very important lessons; and it was this acceptance of others and her smile that endeared her to the people who knew her.
She was the most stubborn person that I have ever known, bar none, if “stubborn” is the right word. Perhaps stalwart would have been better. It was with measured and fact-driven set of priorities that she made her decisions and stood by them and it was her intelligence that allowed her to frame the narrative in a way that enlightened and allowed for a new perspective.
It was through gardening we met and, in the almost 20 years we knew each other, it was in nature where we both found our joy, traveling the country roads, walking in the woods, enjoying the rivers and lakes, the wetlands of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. She was a realist, though, and often gave me pause in my efforts to preserve our wildlands. My idealistic nature was tempered many times in our discussions by her truthful kindness. She knew and would let me find out for myself.
I miss her terribly. She would not want me to mourn forever. She would not want me to write about her for all to know and felt she was only a small, miniscule part of this universe. For me, she was an example of how we might all be in a better world; and I loved her for that.