Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goodnight Esther

On December 2, 1919, Esther Marie Ray came into this world and on November 9, 2008 she peacefully left it. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, an aunt, a mother-in-law, a great grandmother... To me she was a grandmother, the word 'step' was never in her vocabulary. She loved lilacs and blue bonnets and wasn't afraid to wear 10 shades of purple at once. If it was purple then it was perfect. She was faithful to God and The Young and the Restless and could discuss both at great length.

Terry calls the above photo of her 'cheese cakey' and I absolutely love it. It shows an Esther that most of us never knew. So young and daring - sassy even. The photo below is from a visit to Texas, still sassy in her 80's in a field of blue bonnets. This is the Esther that I knew and loved and when I think of her, this is the snapshot I will forever have in my head.

Few know of her journalistic endeavors in her later years while residing at Avalon. When Kev and I were in Prague we received a small package containing a number of newsletters - The Avalon News - all of which contained short reflections and stories by Esther. It was such a gift for us to get these lovely little insights by her, especially while living so far away. I was fascinated to read that in 1926 she and her neighbor sang 'When we carved Our Hearts on the Old Oak Tree' on a RADIO program called 'The Children's Hour.' She described in great detail the anticipation leading up to it, her outfit, and even the 'exciting' ride in Mr. Walkers Ford - 'That's all anyone had then. Ford was it.' She and Susan dreamed of immediate fame and fortune, and altho it never found them after their radio debut, she went on to write 'the thrill of that moment still lingers on, and I've been singing ever since.'

She wrote another remembrance in April 2005 about lilacs and bluebonnets. This story struck me profoundly because it was always in late April and May that lilacs were in full bloom all. over. Prague. Absolutely everywhere, perfuming every street and every window, in every park, on every hill... At the same time I could envision the Texas fields and highways equally covered in bluebonnets.

This is what she wrote in the 'April Showers Bring May Flowers' section:
Lilacs are beautiful. I carried them on a plane to my daughter in New York once. They smelled up the whole cabin. As I disembarked from the plane, people kept asking me. "Are you the one with the lilacs?" Everyone enjoyed the beautiful fragrance. If I don't say anything about the Texas bluebonnets then I'm afraid I will never be allowed back in Texas again. My son lives in Dallas, and every year, in April, Texans look for the bluebonnets in fields, along the roadsides, everywhere. No one is allowed to grow them in their yards, though they grow wild throughout Texas. Ladybird Johnson's picture was taken in a field of bluebonnets. The last time I was in Texas, my son and his wife, Terry and Kathy, took me to a field to have my picture taken. However, I was never first lady of The United States.

She passed away while surrounded by the love of her daughter Diane and her grand daughter Amy. To the music of Amazing Grace and the reading of Psalm 23 she left this world in peace. She let go and let God take her home.


nekisia said...

what a lovely woman. i think we would have hit it off, why, lilacs and bluebonnets are my favorite flowers, too!

Paige said...

What a neat lady. My prayers and thoughts have been with your family. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sorry I haven't called. I will try tonight.
Love you!

Meredith said...

I just took the time (finally) to read your obit and cried. It was so beautiful Nicole! I'm sure Terry really appreciated it too. So sweet and profound.