Not that saying goodbye is ever easy. But she was something else. Her name was Alma. Born in 1927, she was a word collector, outspoken, a passionate advocate for the underdog, with an insatiable lust for learning. A standout in anyone's company, but amongst her peers, the 80+ club, her memory, indomitable spirit and gutsiness for difficult conversations was breath-taking, at least to this writer. She was a dear friend to my mom, even when they were at odds, although as they advanced in age, I loved how they developed a system for checking in with each other, you know, just to be on the safe side and make sure everyone was OK.
Mostly I remember the loudness of her voice, the conviction in her words, the tears she occasionally let leak when talking about how much she missed her husband. Earlier this year, at my mom's 85th birthday party, she stood up, started what sounded like a full-blown speech, and then broke down with tears of joy as she shared her heart with all of us, acknowledging her days were numbered.
She trail-blazed the sidewalks of Fresno, cursed and used expletives on the editorial pages, and on occasion, despite her devotion to God, used four-letter words in the hallways of the church. Indeed. She was something else.