Archive for Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Thinking about one we’ve known

September 27, 2000

And yes we shed a tear for those who have been a part of our lives.

Typing obituaries is a necessary part of this job. And once in a while, someone's obit comes along that jerks even a journalist back in time.

That happened this week when I came down to the office early Saturday morning to type copy. The first paper out of the fax bin was the obituary of Mary Harris.

When I think of Mary, I think of the lady in white who worked for many years at my father's medical office. Back then she dressed in white dress, stockings and nurse's shoes and she wore a crisp white cap bobby-pinned to her silvering hair. Although I don't remember the exact moment that Mary and I met, it must have been somewhere around 1955. I probably squalled a bit, as visits to my father's office sometimes included vaccinations or allergy shots. But always there was the treat at the end, the Safe-T-Pop, to be found in the lollypop drawer of each examining room.

Mary was always there, it seemed, in the examining rooms or at the window of the small inner officer, greeting parents in her whispery voice. Even as a child I realized she was a remarkable-looking woman, with high cheekbones and large eyes that made her a beauty even in her last days.

Mary and her husband, Harvey Harris, lived in the white house at the then-named "Tonganoxie State Lake" where Harvey oversaw the lake and grounds. Harvey, like his wife, was a gentle soul. One never heard an angry or harsh word come from either of them, as far as I ever knew.

I remember chasing fireflies on a summer night in the yard of their house at the lake.

I remember Mary teaching me to crochet and knit when I was in high school.

I remember Mary and Harvey visiting me when I lived in central Kansas, near Pratt, where Harvey was attending a state fish and game meeting.

And then I remember coming home years later and seeing Mary again. When had she grown smaller? Or when had I grown taller? One never knows when the scale teeters, but at some point, we do seem to take on a new height as those who started life earlier seem to become somewhat more diminutive in stature.

The last time I saw Mary, several weeks ago, she congratulated me on my recent marriage. The next I heard, she was in the hospital. And now gone.

But as the clichoes, "But not forgotten."

It's a curiosity of human life that those who have gone before us somehow become even more ingrained in the day-to-day events of our lives. If they have set a good example while here on earth, we can somehow attempt to nurture that thought, that memory, and perhaps manage, if only once in a while, to try to be as good at their best traits as they were.

With Mary Harris, I would think those traits included kindness, compassion and gentleness.

May the tenderness of her soul and of her spirit be long remembered.

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