Goodbye to a steady friend | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Feb 09, 2018

On the day after Christmas, a dear member of my writing group died.

Edythe lived in southern Oregon, but was a participant in the Edmonds group we call the Writing Sisters. She was an inspiration and a delight. She made the trip to Edmonds as often as she could, usually flying to Seattle.

In October, she regularly attended the Write on the Sound Writers Conference with us. Those trips always included dinner at Arnie’s.

In December, Edythe usually came for our Christmas meeting and party and a stay of several days. This year, though, she said she thought she would come in November instead. During that visit, we had a productive day of working on our writing, enjoying the five of us being together.

When the day ended, we hugged her goodbye; she would leave in the morning. We did not know we would not see her again.

Our Edythe was an author and playwright, a smart, funny, talented, inquisitive woman.

She battled health issues for decades, but her spirit seldom wavered. Sometimes we called her "our plucky Edythe,” a term she liked. She knew she could rely on us for support – and we knew, even when she didn't feel well, that she was available to us.

Edythe’s visits to Edmonds were fine times of conversation and companionship; of course, those visits included work, too, the sharing and critiquing of writing. When she couldn’t be with us in person, we usually had her on speakerphone during our monthly meetings.

Edythe was a Christian, a philanthropist, a community activist, a steady friend. Kindness was at the core of her being, and she always had in mind that she’d like to create and live in a place she and her best friend labeled Kindlandia.

Edythe was a world traveler who visited more countries than I can remember, but she had a special interest in the small country of Georgia, where she co-founded the Caucasus Children’s Relief Fund. She made numerous trips there, deeply committed to the friends she made and especially to the children living in the orphanage that existed largely due to her efforts.

Edythe’s favorite pastime was gardening. She was a master gardener and liked helping others solve their garden problems. She loved the outdoors. The annual planning and planting of her backyard garden brought her great pleasure.

She noticed and cherished every beauty of nature – the ocean, islands, birds, trees. She loved family, animals, books, jokes, card games and tall tales. No matter what transpired, she kept an optimistic spirit.

Saturday, in the church Edythe attended in southern Oregon, family and friends gathered to celebrate her life. One of the Writing Sisters, Edythe’s best friend, represented the rest of us at that memorial.

Another of us was out of the country, though close in spirit. The remaining three Writing Sisters stayed in Edmonds, knowing exactly how we wanted to honor our sister, our friend, on that day. We drove to a forested park, where we followed a meandering pathway through tall trees until we came to a bench next to a small lake.

We sat on the bench within a few yards of several ducks paddling idly back and forth on the still water.

Each of us read aloud something we had brought to share, something we chose because it reminded us of Edythe or because we knew she’d especially like it. Then we sat in silence for a while. Softly, we sang “Amazing Grace.” It began to rain, a fine soft mist.

We retraced our way along the path, content and reflective, each feeling an assurance that the way in which we honored Edythe, our sister, our friend, was exactly what she would have liked.

In fact, we felt quite certain she had somehow, some way, walked with us through the forest.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Vivian C Murray | Feb 15, 2018 17:39

Very sorry for your loss, Joanne. You wrote such a beautiful and loving homage for your dear friend. As we know, writers stick together even after we go 'home again.' There is always another tale to tell. -Vivian

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