When I started making note cards from my photos and
graphics, my first devoted customer turned out to be an interesting
elderly woman from church. Since she was housebound, I would go over to
her place from time to time, show Rosemary my new work, and after
carefully considering the various images, she would select what she wanted
to order. She always took the time to consider each image carefully,
noting nuances, for which I was very grateful, because it's always
gratifying to have someone notice the care and elements that have gone
into your work.
Rosemary and I would almost invariably end up talking: about our lives, about my kids and general situation. She was always concerned about how we were getting along. I'd been going through some rather rough personal times during part of our acquaintance and Rosemary was, looking back on it, the only person I had to talk to about what was happening. I was grateful for the chance to open up, and she was always supportive, never judgmental.
Rosemary was the kind of person with a sparkle in her eye and a bounce in her step... even when that step became less than sure. She had gone to college at a time when many women didn't (she graduated from the University of Rochester in 1935.) I knew she had a degree in chemistry and that she'd taught high school science for many years; what I didn't know until recently was that her degree was actually in chemical engineering. She'd graduated with highest honors and had evidently spent some time working for Kodak before she found her calling in teaching. Pretty impressive for a woman of that period.
Rosemary's family has, in some small way, gradually become my family. I knew her daughter S before I actually met Rosemary; she's someone I immediately felt comfortable with. Several years ago, through her son B, I met Pam the Photographer (Pam and B have been buddies since high school), and Pam and I have bloomed into a friendship of our own. Rosemary's sister, for years a librarian, went out of her way to collect all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books for my boys when we were first homeschooling.
Rosemary passed away last week at the age of 91. Tonight Pam, who is in town for the memorial service on Saturday, cooked dinner at B's house and invited me over; the three of us had a warm, casual (and very tasty) dinner together. It made me feel, once again, like part of the family.
Rosemary once described to me (because we shared this kind of confidence) how she'd seen a vision of her sister some weeks after her sister's passing--how Louise had entered the room and had sat for a moment on the end of her bed, and after looking briefly at her, had vanished. I almost expect, on Saturday, to catch a glimpse of Rosemary peeking in on the proceedings. Or at least to feel her spirit. It was always strong, and bright, and I imagine it's likely to continue that way.
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