A couple of years ago a friend shared an obituary found in The Oregonian, about a woman named Jenny, who died at age 85. Its blunt honesty appealed to both of us.
Jenny came from humble beginnings and stayed that way except she married a businessman who gradually became successful selling up-scale women’s clothing – the kind Jenny wouldn’t wear. Her obituary said she was fired from several jobs but made quite a homemaker, considering she could cook several favorite dishes with a flair, could keep four boys in line, and still have time to read and keep up with friends, relatives and world events. She had opinions on most things and freely shared them.
It was nearly impossible for Jenny to become bored. She gave hours of her time helping with literacy programs and community efforts to house the homeless. She enjoyed gin rummy, scrabble, and lawn croquet with her children and, later, her grandchildren. Once a month she would sit for long hours at her desk, sorting through bills and solicitations. She shared her resources with a sizable number of charities, and insisted they take her time and talents also.
In the space of a couple of paragraphs I came to like Jenny and felt glad she spent time on this earth. I valued Jenny’s ability to be real, struggle with faults, influence others, and not give up on her best self. I also appreciated that her family didn’t need to make her better than she was to love and remember her.
After reading, my friend and I looked at each other and smiled, knowing that we don’t have to be like Jenny to enjoy her willful spirit; to be the best of ourselves and true to ourselves at the same time. That spirit is one to be remembered and cherished.