Thursday, March 9, 2006

Most grievous loss

My mother-in-law Fredi Davis died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embollism on Tuesday, just hours before she was heading to DC to see us. She had said that Nate was changing too quickly, and she couldn't go any longer without a visit.

Fredi was my friend. A true trusted companion. She was gentle, supportive, steady, compassionate, loving, kind, and true. She had high standards for herself and the people around her. She saw everyone as they were, warts and all, yet somehow she only focused on the good parts. She never, ever had a bad word to say about anyone, but she was nobody's fool. She was as honest a Christian as I've ever heard of; every Passover I received a card from her. I celebrated Chanukah at her house this past year. Whenever I was at her home for dinner, she made sure to say a blessing from the Old Testament instead of the New. She was thrilled to be getting a Jewish grandson.

Fredi and her husband John at our wedding:


Our wedding was happening on her farm, so when I was planning it she went with me and my Mom to every appointment in Charlottesville. She clearly had opinions that differed from mine, but she always supported what I wanted to do. She always found ways to make her opinion known, though. She was never one to meekly go along. Some people found her bossy, but she and I were always straight with each other, and I don't think either of us ever resented the other.

She was planning to come up and help out after Nate was born. But after my Mom had been there for two weeks, I was really ready to have my home back and try it by myself. When Nate was about a week old, they came up to see him. I told her, as nicely as I could, that I'd really rather she didn't plan on coming up and helping. She said that was just fine with her.

About a month later, she came up to see us for the day, but didn't want to stay overnight. I was worried that I'd offended her by asking her not to come, so I decided to just ask her if I had. She smiled and said "Actually, I was quite relieved!" Fredi had such an active retired life, with so many hobbies, that she didn't want to skip a whole week.

Here's Fredi and John with their children and grandchildren the day of our wedding:


Fredi rode horses, participated in a book club, volunteered all around town, and was an incredibly active Grandmother. She had five children and 13 grandchildren, and was constantly visiting them around the country, helping out when someone was sick, sending birthday and Valentine's day cards, and hosting family get-togethers. She was the glue that kept our family together, in every sense of the word. She pushed, cajoled, and helpfully "suggested" ways for everyone to be together. She was my organizational hero.

I am so sad that my husband has lost his Mom. She was the love of his life. I am so sad to have lost a source of love and support for myself and for my son. I am so sad for all of us.

I'm not sad for Fredi. She died so content, so secure and happy. She never put life off. She lived it fully, completely, contently, and thoroughly. If you asked me to name one person I'd ever known who, if they died suddenly would have no regrets, it would be Fredi. And I really feel she knew how well loved she was by her husband, her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins...and by me. We'd all taken time, over the years, to write her letters that expressed our feelings. I know this because I found all of them when I was going through her boxes yesterday. She kept them, and that means she knew, and keeps me from having regrets.

I love her. I will honor her, and miss her, every single day of my life.


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