Funerals are for the living. The beautiful ones who leave us are no longer here. They probably do not know that we are gathering and mourning for them. Maybe they do. Who knows? But if they are aware of all who gather, then certainly they know of all of us still living folks who mourn alone but preserve with every detail the moments of the precious ones who are now gone.
There are seven women I know who, at one time or another, shared the last name of “Keller.” All beautiful in one way or another. But of the bunch, I only fell in love with two of them. The youngest. And the oldest. The two most beautiful.
I will always love that young one. She knows that, and she knows why. But the most beautiful of the seven? And maybe the one I love most? The young one’s mom – Connie.
“The most beautiful Keller woman,” I always called her when I saw her or talked with her on the phone. And I meant that in every way.
The most beautiful one left her daughters and grandchildren and others and me on October 21. That is the day she died.
Connie had some Cherokee blood in her. Please indulge me here while I quote Joyce Sequichie Hifler and the October 21 page from her book, “A Cherokee Feast Of Days – Daily Meditations.“
“October 21 – We live with memories. Every day, in some way or another, we are influenced by something or someone from the past. A deep reservoir of feelings and emotions make us dedicated to preserve some of what was and is important and ‘u wo du hi,’ beautiful. But this is a new day in which to renew. We have a purpose or we wouldn’t be here. Part of it is to make every hour count. We can’t kill time without hurting ourselves, without wasting something very precious. Events that leave us drained may be to put us in line to take hold of a whole new way of life. Life will not destroy the memories but will preserve them to serve as a foundation for greater things to come.”
The reservoir Connie filled for me was constructed long before the Orange County, North Carolina evenings we shared with wine and nature on the deck of her youngest daughter’s home.
The feelings and emotions were in place long before the afternoon the then frail woman trusted me to tightly hold her tiny hand as we walked together the streets of Princeton, New Jersey one sunny afternoon. That day, we made every minute count.
From The Lunar Report, “That’s All,” – July 11, 2010 (This was written three years after the death of Connie’s husband)
“He was a pioneer in his field, I’ve been told. He was a family man. A pretty good one. He had a beautiful wife who had a notable career as well. Together they struggled through careers, moves, financial crises, more moves, muggings and even more moves still. All the while, he and his beautiful wife neglected their six independent and unique daughters not one second. Even as the girls found adult struggles of their own, the man was there for each of them. So was his wife.
His girls are spread all over the lower 48. Arizona, Texas, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina. The couple lived in Maryland. Outside DC.
I got to know the man and his wife through their youngest daughter. I was with that daughter during a rather important transition for her. It was a time when she discovered her artistic talent. I was with her at a rather important art show. Her first big one. At Topsail Beach in North Carolina.
It was a big couple of days for that daughter. She had the support of her parents. She knew that. But on that sun filled early fall morning, sitting beneath the wind blown white canopy that covered her work, I looked out with squinted eyes at the people passing by and stopping and looking. Suddenly, on that storybook morning, I was speechless. And motionless. Except for the single tear running down my right cheek, I could easily have been mistaken for dead. And if I had died at that very moment, I would have been the most satisfied man to ever do so.
The man and his wife were standing there, looking for their daughter, the artist. And both smiling so proudly when they found her amongst her work.
They were proud of her. They were proud of themselves. They were just like that. You know?”
And thanks to her, new days are renewing and greater things are coming for those she left behind. For my family. For hers. For all who still live within the boundaries of the reservoir Connie filled.