Wednesday, June 13, 2007
OUR FRIEND RITA
Our friend, Rita, passed away yesterday. She was the mother of Audre', our daughter-in-law. We have shared children and grandchildren with her for many years. Audre' has been a part of our hearts and family for fifteen years, when she and our son, Greg, met. They married twelve years ago. I told some of their story here.
Rita loved life. She had many friends. One of her joys in life was giving gifts to the people she knew and loved. We have been on the receiving end of her gifts many times. When she came to Tennessee she usually had a little something to share--It might be a special bookmark, a delicacy from her beloved Louisiana, or, of course, pictures of our shared grandchildren.
The two grandchildren we share, Luke and Ella, love their Ri-Ri exuberantly. After a visit they always had stories of the fun they had with her. Her gift-giving habit was, naturally, enhanced with them. When she came for birthdays she always brought a truckload, literally, of toys, games and clothes! She never missed a birthday for either one of them until this spring. I guess we all knew the approaching inevitability of her disease when she was not able to travel in April for E's birthday.
Rita also had a love of animals and she must have wanted her grandchildren to share that love. When they went to her house they spent time with cats, dogs, and horses. One time she even "borrowed" a friend's pig so that L could experience life with a pig up close! He has a horse at Ri-Ri's. We always enjoyed hearing his stories about riding Ginger. We have many pictures of Luke and Ella riding Ginger, being led by Ludlow (Rita's husband whom she married just a few years ago), Trigger joined Ginger a couple of years ago. Rita needed a horse so she could ride with L!
Last year, when she learned her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, she planned a trip for her family. Audre, Greg and the kids met her and the rest of the family, which includes Audre's brother and sister, for a week at the beach. They had a wonderful time.
This year they went again for Memorial Day weekend. Rita was celebrating her extra year of life. Some doctors had not, in the beginning, been optimistic about a prognosis that included a year. Rita's family jammed a lot of living into that year. They shared birthdays, holidays, and her son's wedding last fall. Rita had aggressive treatment with a doctor that she traveled to Texas to see. She improved and surprised people with her strong insistence to not give in to the disease. However, with each passing event, it became more and more clear that, even though Rita and her doctor had fought a good fight, the disease was progressing.
Greg and Audre' made the trip last week that they had been dreading. It appeared that Rita was slipping from them. Yesterday, with her three children, her husband, and other family members with her, Rita left this life.
Audre' is the spiritual strength in her family. As I spoke with her on the phone yesterday I wanted to put my arms around her. She knows I love her. She knows that Lee and I count her as one of our children. She can talk about anything with us--or not talk--whatever she needs. If my husband's health condition allowed I would be with her. But, right now, all I can do is be here for Greg as he hurries to get their house moving arranged and travels back to Louisiana.
Greg returned home on Tuesday to keep the scheduled appointments for closing on the sale of their house and purchase of the new one. He has arranged for storage of everything they are moving, and the cleaning of the old house for the new owner. He is moving some things to our house and garage. They will complete the move when they return home. I'm sure they will stay with us for a few days while they get everything sorted out and moved in. Greg will be back in LA by Friday. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
We will miss Rita. We will miss her directness and her outspoken way of declaring her opinion. We will miss her generosity. We will still hear stories about the grandchildren's trips to Louisiana, but those have always been first and foremost trips to see Ri-Ri--So we will miss the exciting stories with Ri-Ri at the center, along with Ludlow, Ginger, Trigger, and the assorted dogs, cats, and occasional pigs. We will miss her visits for birthdays, Halloween, and other child-oriented events. We will miss sharing the grandchildren and children. We promise we will love them well.
6Therefore we are always confident
and know that as long as we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord.
7We live by faith, not by sight.
8We are confident, I say,
and would prefer to be away from the body
and at home with the Lord.