Sunday, August 24, 2008

This temporary community

Zenda Jean Levinson 1926 - 2008

We held the memorial service for Jean yesterday. It was a moving event, an entirely green altar, with a peace plant in bloom; the music of Ann Murray, Jean's favorite; and living testimonials.

The large group that attended included mostly people of my generation (just pre-Baby Boom) and the ones above me. So we knew many of these people, had been in their homes, had lunch with them, worked on committees, argued in meetings.

Afterward the reception included a display of photos of Jean, and the above was one of the last ever taken of her, at my 65th birthday party last September. Being 65, I can't remember who took all the digital pictures (Laurie?), but I cherished finding this one. Jean loved cats; I am right now working under the aloof stare of Bashet, a museum replica she gave me. She had been a nurse, and was one of the people who sympathized when I was on dialysis last year. She brought me packs of frozen Amy's vegetarian food. "I don't cook," she explained, "but this is what I like."

The cat mask was a very successful gift from Gini. Jean looked wonderful in it, and as happy as I ever saw her. It seemed lovely in retrospect that throwing a party to celebrate myself (and get lots of $1 toys made in China, as requested) had led to this precious picture.

The fact is, the next memorial service may very well be for one of us who was there. Thinking this, I began taking pictures with my cellcam at the reception, and then other people did too. Groups that may never again be together stood with arms around each other, enjoying what Reverend Mark called "this temporary community." The whole afternoon had the glow of what is passing, and will never be quite the same again.

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