She was dying and I was at the beach. Feet buried in the wet, morning sand, I looked out at the horizon, smiling and thinking of her. The waves of the Atlantic lapped against the shore and drew themselves back in, just as she was drawing in air and exhaling her last.
“Have a good life,” I could hear her say, “Take care of each other.”
Mima came to this country, veins coursing with blood cooled from the Austrian Alps and a heart warmed by the promise of a better life. One that would be less war-torn and more hopeful. She was a treasure of a woman, and I wish I had known my grandmother-in-law longer.
People are not always nice to those who are different. It couldn’t have been easy to be a German-speaking immigrant in America, following the long and devastating world wars. She will tell you, though, that while some people were unwelcoming, many were kind and empathetic. It takes a village whether you’re in Austria’s countryside or Ohio’s.
Take care of each other. Have a good life.
Frieda left us this week, hell bent on making sure we were all happy and well before she breathed her last breath. Her words – I can still hear them. To some, they carry the ring of finality. To me, they were and are the greatest blessing of my present.
Today, in a world that is so full of hate and fear and war with our neighbors – I can’t help but wonder what it’d be like with a little more love. To look at those who are different – to really look – straight in the eyes and ask, “How can I help?” To extend kindness and compassion, especially when it’s not easy for us.
To take care of each other and to have a good life.