Sunday, February 21, 2010

Memories of Maureen

One of our friends from church, a woman named Maureen, died a couple of weeks ago. We think she had pancreatic cancer, since she went so fast. Two weeks before she died, she was in church, telling us how she was having a hard time with her treatments, with blood counts so low that they couldn’t even administer the treatments. She went into the hospice which is just up the hill from our house. I went to see her one day, but I yielded my time to a couple of ladies who had driven over from the east side to see her. They used to teach with her. Turns out I should have just gone up with them, since on that day she was lucid, talking to visitors, but by the next day, when I finally got back there, she was just sleeping.

I was fortunate to be invited to do the readings at her funeral, since her two adult children said they would not be able to get through it. The night after she died I was in her house, planning the liturgy with her husband and the priest who was going to help with the Mass. Her kids traded stories about their mom while the five grandchildren meandered, crawled and otherwise orbited the table where we grownups sat.

Maureen and her mom (who passed away two years ago) had a standing hair appointment every Thursday. Sometimes the kids would go with them. Her daughter said it was a wonder they didn’t develop lung disease, since the women would get into the car after the appointment and pull cans of hairspray out from under their seats and liberally spray their hair, locking it into place. The kids could (and did) bounce wadded up paper off their mother’s hair helmet.

One time when Maureen and her husband John were in Las Vegas, the hair appointment loomed large when, at the airport gate, the agent announced that they needed two people to give up their seats for some VIP’s who needed to fly out that night. They offered a sweet deal: two $500 ticket vouchers, transportation to a hotel, dinner that night, and first class seats back home on the following day. John wanted to grab it, and Maureen said no—she had to get to her hairdressers the next day! Once on the plane, John couldn’t help himself, “I hope you enjoy your $1,000 hair appointment,” he scowled.

We gave her a nice sendoff, with trumpets and a tympani and some great hymns.