At least it didn’t rain for May’s service today.
Of the 14 people who attended, two were Newberg’s mayor (far left) and his wife. As Julie read May’s obituary, we could follow along in the memorial folder I prepared four years ago in anticipation of this day. I still remember when she showed up in my office at Newberg Friends Church with an arm full of scribbled notes and photos and asked me to write her obituary. I could tell it would take considerable time to sort through it to fulfill her request, so I set it aside, figuring a less busy time would come soon enough.
But that wasn’t May’s MO! No, she called me weekly to ask how it was coming along. She was not timid, not by anyone’s assessment. Her tenacity won the day, and I finally started the project. Reading through her notes gave me a whole new perspective on the woman I’d known only a few years. Her life teemed with interest and accomplishment: “May was also a great support to other aging friends, especially those who had no immediate family. She drove them to doctor appointments, helped them with their finances, and spent personal time with them. She had a strong spirit—’feisty,’ some might say—and was strong in her faith to the end.”
The officiant, NFC’s pastor, Keith Reeser, encouraged us to tell our stories about May. I always shy away from public speaking, but I braved telling a story about May. She had been good friends with Dorothy Barratt and was my handy helper after Dorothy’s death in distributing her earthly possessions to appropriate people. From the many scribbled notes Dorothy left, it was clear she wanted May to receive what remained in her bank account. A couple thousand dollars! But when I told May that Dorothy wanted her to have it, she said, “I don’t need it; I don’t want it. Just donate it.” My arguments fell on deaf ears.
If you follow this blog, you’ve read about “Dorothy’s Match” in support of Babies of Juarez. Dorothy’s money started that annual matching-gift effort, which I realized too late should in fact have been named “May’s Match.”
The high esteem our mayor, Rick Rogers, holds for May relates to this part of her obituary: “In her retirement years, May served faithfully with Habitat for Humanity, a national organization that provides affordable housing for people of lower income. Her 4-foot, 11-inch stance did not diminish her ability to paint and hammer and clean up the construction site every Thursday, rain or shine. As age limited her abilities, she ran errands for the construction supervisor, set up and broke down the luncheon arrangements, and welcomed new volunteers. It gave her much joy to serve her community in this way.”
When it came time to downsize, May tried hard to sell her treasured saw. She regularly called me at the office, asking to include (again) an ad in the Need Sheet because she was certain the right buyer would emerge. Mayor Rick associated one of his stories to this picture in the memorial folder. I struggle to hear and/or lip read when someone wears a mask, so I missed much/most of the stories people told. But I think his story went something like this. One day May called him with an invitation to come see the saw in her garage. He complied with her wish and was impressed but not surprised by the massive tool. May wanted to give it to him. He told her that Habitat would soon be opening a new and improved ReStore, and the saw could benefit their effort. “No,” May said, ” I want you to have the saw. And I want you to give me $250 for it.”
Feisty, some might say!