Monday, August 6, 2007

A Loss and A Gain

Grace and greetings.

Saturday morning my mother-in-law died peacefully in her sleep. She had been suffering the affects of several strokes and living in a nursing home the last several years.

Polly was a wonderful and strong woman. She was born to a Scottish family of thirteen in 1929. She was put up for adoption and raised by her parents in a small German community of Lena, Illinois. She grew up with the violin under her chin and played professionally in Rockford and Chicago, Illinois. Looking like pictures of Audrey Hepburn, she married at a young age to a World War II veteran and young teacher. They had three children together, a son and two daughters. My wife grew up listening to her mother play the violin, give lessons and even get frustrated when she, (Polly), could not get a particular run down on the violin.

Polly followed her husband faithfully as he went to University of Wisconsin for his Masters degree and then his PhD. He ended up being Superintendent of Schools in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Polly continued to play and teach the violin; working at the local library; raising three children, as well as typing most of her husband's papers. While in Wisconsin, the marriage finally fell apart and Polly divorced her husband.

Though she was raised in the Presbyterian Church, she became Roman Catholic for the sake of the marriage. In the community were they lived, she was denied communion at the local parish while her ex-husband, as Superintendent of Schools was allowed to participate in communion. She returned to her Presbyterian roots, and her daughters followed. My wife later became, (and still is), a Presbyterian Church (USA) Minister of the Word and Sacrament.

Following a heart attack and several aneurysms, she turned her life around for the cigarettes and Bourbon she was drinking to get through the divorce and aftermath. Arthritis had taken its toll on her arms and hands, and she could no longer lift up the violin to play any more. Her last several years before her major stroke was helping to raise her youngest granddaughter, while living with her youngest daughter's family. Though she surprised everybody, family and doctors alike, she came back from her stroke, until she had another one.

She was not able to recover this time around. She lost the ability to move her self around and to communicate. Her daughter was no longer able to care for Polly at home, so Polly lived the last several years in a nursing home. She still had her smile, and a twinkle in her eyes to tell people of her love for them. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see Polly since we moved from Pennsylvania to Seattle in 2003.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, if anybody were willing to donate in her name to the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, 827 16Th Street, Suite 12, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. This is a group that is led by a former student and "adopted son". If you are not able to make a donation to the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, maybe you can light a candle a say a prayer for Polly and her family.

Peace and blessings.

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