Lina and I have been much with death and illness in the last week. Nine days ago we attended the memorial service of my high school history teacher in Princeton, NJ. Henry Drewry had a profound impact on many lives and several hundred of his friends, colleagues and students came to pay tribute to him.

With Henry and Annette

With Henry and Annette

Laughter

Laughter

We then drove south to Roanoke, VA to spend time with our dear friend, Gaylord, who is dealing with a serious cancer just diagnosed. A steady stream of visitors – family and friends from all over the world – are with him, and messages pour in by Facebook and email and phone. Gaylord’s kindness and loving care for his students and friends have made a great difference in our lives.

With Gaylord at his home

With Gaylord at his home

Looking at photos of grandchildren!

Looking at photos of grandchildren!

As we visited with Gaylord, friends back at the Mariposa Museum were celebrating the life of Marie Adler, who died just last week: a warm and wonderful woman, a selfless volunteer and a dear friend to many.

Marie, the Italian baker, between Wayan and Mose at Mariposa's Geo Challenge

Marie, the Italian baker, between Wayan and Mose at Mariposa’s Geo Challenge

Right after we returned, Lina had to go into hospital with her own health crisis. She spent only one night and is recovering at home. She will be well, and we are reminded that illness doesn’t come just to other people.

Christy left her shift, and Christie forgot to enter her full name - so look who's in charge!

Christy left her shift, and Christie forgot to enter her full name – so look who’s in charge!

Yesterday, our church remembered Harry Meiklejohn, another marvelous man whose gentleness and love touched us all.

Harry and Doris renewing their vows last year

Harry and Doris renewing their vows last year

And we learned that our sweet neighborhood dog, Montana, was put down last week at the age of 14.

Our sweetheart

Our sweetheart

All of this amidst the bursting forth of spring: redbuds in Virginia, daffodils in New Hampshire.

Redbuds

Redbuds

Daffodil in Chesham

Daffodil in Chesham

More New Hampshire spring bloom

More New Hampshire spring bloom

In the last week we have grieved and celebrated, enjoyed reunions and made new connections. At Henry’s service, five members of my high school class came together. Some of us had not seen each other for almost 40 years. At our table that evening, I made a new friend, a Norwegian woman who, like Lina and I, has worked with refugees and whom we’ll see again this summer.

In Gaylord’s room I met people I’ve heard about for years and found anew some old friends. We renewed and created important relationships.

When Henry was declining into Alzheimers, one of the people he mentored came to tell him that she had completed her college degree as an older adult – a path he had encouraged her to take.  As she finished telling him this, Henry was silent, and then he whispered: “What’s next?”

We celebrate people for what they do and who they are, for the meaning of their lives and for who they inspire us to be.   It is wonderful to see old friends and to make new ones, to share memories and stories. How much more that each life well lived calls me forward , reminding me that as long as I have life, there is a choice about “What’s next?”

Advertisements