By human standards Rachel Macy should have lived another forty to fifty years. We are in the process of accepting her shortened life as part of our new reality. But for the purposes of this post I’m taking the approach that Rachel’s 41-year life was fully lived, complete.
Rachel the Kid
Shhhh. Hush Little Baby. Rachel’s parents raised her with great love and specific intentions that she grow up to be independent and successful.
Margaret-Rose held Rachel close in one of the original Snugli baby carriers. M-R and Mauri drove up to Evergreen, Colorado, to the home of its inventor to purchase it months before she was born.
They did not want to raise her with cultural bias and made sure her toys included a basketball hoop and trucks, along with the typical dolls.
She clearly embraced her femininity.
The Macy family often sang for public gatherings. Around this time Mauri was invited to produce recordings for Wee Sing in their home studio. All three Macy children participated in those projects. Here’s what one of the Wee Sing originators wrote to Rachel about that time in her life:
“I have been listening to your voice on the many Wee Sing songs you recorded and reflect on those wonderful days with the Wee Singers. I picture you all with your headphones, then the excitement of ‘It’s a wrap!’ and off to Burgerville. It was great joy to see the relationships develop and the camaraderie of the choir as you all worked so hard to create such fun music for kids. Your voices continue to be shared in so many places around the world, and those young voices live on. Thank you for sharing that time of your life—your positive attitude, friendship, joy, determination, and your beautiful voice. You are a treasure.” — Susan Nipp
Rachel the Sister
Rachel adored her brothers and expressed that love in various ways.
Sometimes by borrowing their toothbrushes or pinching their necks! But as they grew older she would do anything for them and the reverse was true as well.
She valued family and prioritized attending important events.
Rachel the Student
Shortly after her mother’s death in 1988, Rachel was chosen to be the freshman homecoming princess. Family friend Debbie Rickey wrote to Rachel, remembering the drama around finding this homecoming dress. “You were so beautiful and every inch a princess!” (I look forward to hearing Debbie tell the whole story when she comes to host Rachel’s memorial celebration. See full information at the end.)
Her high school senior picture—1992.
Graduating from Portland State in 2000 with her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
Rachel sees me up in the bleachers at her George Fox hooding ceremony.
Rachel the Teacher
“Have you ever seen her teach?” Rachel’s friend Rebecca asked Mauri when he visited Philly last winter. “She’s a wonder, a force in the classroom!” Rachel was passionate about her profession; having to concede to her constant pain and give up teaching was one of her deepest sadnesses.
Christine is hidden in the shadows over on the right in this purposely blurred photo of “Wonder…Do…Write,” their after-school science and writing club for second and third graders. She wrote this after Rachel moved to Oregon:
“I was instantly drawn to your passion and love for teaching. You had so many wonderful teaching ideas! At that time, I had no one to share with, and I was feeling a bit discouraged about the whole teaching thing. You were there to encourage me and to lift my spirits. You helped me realize what teaching was all about. With you, I found that there were others out there who loved teaching as much as I did and would be willing to sit for hours and talk about it. I knew I wasn’t alone!! We found an instant bond through teaching and the CCCS community, but I also found a kind, gentle, fun-loving new friend. We sat together at lunch, whether in the teacher’s lounge or in our classrooms, when the teacher’s lounge was way too loud! We talked about teaching, husbands, and the possibility of having children soon. We talked about how we can’t understand why our school does not recycle. We were determined to make that happen. We tried so HARD! Rachel, I’m not giving up the fight! CCCS will recycle! We are the official “tree huggers” of Christopher Columbus Charter School!”
Rachel and Christine birthed babies exactly one week apart! Here Rachel shows off Oscar to her class.
She was a “chip off the old block.” I enjoy imagining her mom proudly reading some of these affirming comments shared by teachers and staff at Wissahickon:
“I’m so glad you had a few weeks with the kids here this year. They still remember joyfully the games you played and the ways you helped them. I hope you know and feel how loved you have been by so many children.” — Jenny
“Your genuine concern and care for the kids was obvious to see. I always wish that I could unearth as much tenderness and understanding as you showed.” — Tim
“You weather those crazy 4th graders with grace.” — Chantal
“Even at the hardest, most trying times you were always so smiley. You are such a sweet, kind, and wonderful person.” — Jenn
“You are inspirational and I wish to be more like you.” — Angelica “Thank you for the love and care you brought to your work and the emotional growth of your students. I have been honored to work alongside you.” — Amira
Rachel the Mom
Look at that cute “little” expectant belly! Rachel was so eager to be a mom!
Not long after that she held Oscar Kedric in a modern-day baby carrier, just as her mama did.
She joyfully shows off OK to her pop.
No caption necessary.
The stylish school teacher comes home to instruct her son.
Narrowing the choice of pictures of Rachel having fun with Oscar was a challenge.
Linked for life and eternity.
Rachel the Wife
In the last several weeks of Rachel’s life, many texts and e-mail passed between all of us. One unforgettable text from Rachel referred to her husband as “my dear, dear Johnny.” Her love for John and his love for her have always been evident and remained so to the finish.
John began showing up in our photo albums around 15 years ago.
Rachel’s hair color often changed, but John remained her steady.
In 2002 they eloped to Puerto Rico,
then about a month later they threw a big wedding party in their backyard so we could all celebrate with them.
Two years later, after Rachel completed her masters degree in education at George Fox, they packed a U-Haul and moved to Philadelphia. John started art school and waited tables at night, and Rachel started teaching.
They loved their urban life.
But life got better when Oscar joined the family.
He gave them “excuses” to expand their world.
This picture was taken on June 18, 2014, just a year before they moved back to Oregon. They were on a vacation provided entirely by For Pete’s Sake, an organization that gives a break to people like Rachel who diligently work to keep cancer at bay.
While Rachel spent years doing all the right things to stay alive, John offered his loving support in any and every way he could. Days after her death he wrote:
“My best friend. Flashback: last fall, a rare breakfast out, just the two of us. Oscar had just started kindergarten and Rachel was beginning her second round of chemo. Her indomitable spirit is so plainly evident here. We had hopes of beating cancer and living our lives well into the future. Moving back to Oregon.
“We made it back to Oregon, only not on our terms. Rachel spent the last week and a half surrounded by family, rare Oregon sun in June and so much love and care. It rejuvenated her spirit and carried her peacefully into the night.
“I continue to be amazed by how many lives Rachel has touched. The love and outpouring of emotion is felt far and wide.
“Rachel is the most genuine person I know. She did everything with integrity, honesty, and compassion. We are all better people for knowing her.
“The void is vast and Oscar and I will miss her deeply, but we will carry her spirit with us in everything we do.”
Do you have a story about Rachel? Please share it in the comments! We’ll be compiling stories and memories at her memorial celebration on Sunday, July 19, at 3 p.m., at Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center. If you can’t come in person, we will gladly add yours to the collection, which we’ll eventually make into a book.