Sunday, July 24, 2011

A matter of life--and Death

Because life happens while you're making other plans, I'm going to interrupt the Thopas thoughts to reflect upon and honor a dear friend--Rose Maiorca. Last Saturday I talked with Rose for about half an hour--she in Chicago, me in California. We'd been chatting regularly once a week, or more often, for the last couple of months. As we were about to hang up she said, "We'll talk again soon." But the Lord had a different plan.

We first met in high school and soon found we had many interests in common. Conversation was always easy, open, pleasant; that never changed. She started college about the time I got married. My children called her "Aunt" Rose. She was godmother to my youngest daughter. When we moved to Arizona, she visited us there.
     Part of her working life was spent at the Chicago Sun-Times, often assisting Irv Kupcinet. A second career found her teaching in the Chicago Public School System.
     Although she was an only child, she was part of a large family of Italian heritage. As a sometime traveler, she took a trip to Italy and received a warm reception from people in the town her relatives came from. Another destination several times was New Orleans. She loved the jazz.
     My pursuit of Chaucer, after I'd finished college, brought enthusiasm and encouragement. When my first book (about Chaucer's Host) was accepted for publication her note congratulating me said:

I don't understand the trouble you've had in getting your ideas about Chaucer accepted--except that academics often get lost in details and don't see, or even look at, the main themes of the works they deal with. From the perspective of an ordinary reader, your thoughts have never seemed far-fetched at all, but rather reasonable and even self-evident.

She was a standby, a friend always to be counted on.

About a year ago Rose was diagnosed with cancer. Our phone conversations became more frequent. We'd talk about anything, everything. I asked if she had done everything she had wanted to with her life. She said yes, but confided that she thought about the two proposals of marriage she'd had and rejected. How different life might have been. Whether it was a news item--like the birth of the 16 pound baby!--or hashing over the changes soon to come in the Catholic liturgy, we just enjoyed our time together.
     So, after the Saturday phone call, I planned to call again on Tuesday. When I did, her cousin answered. "May I speak to Rose?" There was a pause and then, "Didn't you get the email? Rose passed away last evening."
     Even when it's expected, death still comes as a surprise. I would dearly have wanted to talk with her one more time. But I wouldn't have had her linger a moment longer.  Peace be with your spirit, Rose.

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