While discussing with a friend my interest in driving (at a minimum) and owning (ideally) a Vespa, I remembered one of my obituary essays (it's a hobby, people, I'm not planning to need one anytime soon) included a Vespa. I smiled after reading my year-old words and decided to share them with you. Cheers to living a full life that ends while flying down a street at full Vespa speed!
(Written April 22, 2016)
She taught master classes in writing steamy scenes and sexting for seniors. She fought against the green thumb she inherited from her dad and mom for 39 years; during the next 50, no amount of Boraxo soap could clean her fingernails.
She outlived her parents, but not her kids. That's the order such losses are supposed to happen. She keened alongside of her friends who weren't so lucky, along the way.
For years, she tinted her skin a slightly sunnier version of her natural ghostly white until one day she overheard her mom bragging about her pride in Angi's refusal to succumb to the tan-skin-is-pretty-skin norm. After that, she rocked her blue-tinged fair skin in a large a dose as often as she wanted and she offered her sunglasses to anyone who joked about her legs being blinding.
She loved fiercely, thoroughly. Once she declared you to be among her people, she mama-beared the shit out of you, lashing out at anyone foolish enough to mess with one of her cubs.
After dropping out of college during her senior year, life proving to be a greater draw than a diploma, she stubbornly raised her chin and answered with pride, "I didn't graduate" whenever someone inquired about her alma mater. Her career bloomed despite the lack of fancy paper; when she returned to school it was because she wanted to finish, not because she needed to. At age 37, she walked across the stage with a bounce in her step, a flask in her purse, and enough gratitude to cause a flood of tears that made her nearly trip.
Like most people she knew, and especially those she loved the most, she was always sure someone was going to jump into the middle of a meeting and reveal she was a fraud; she learned to own her success but it took a lot of duct tape and fancy knots to hush and contain her choir of inner critics along the way.
Son Steven will take her ashes on an adventure. The destination is up to him but he will leave a little bit of her behind whenever he finds joy. He travels frequently, pursuing his dream of engineering better places for people to live.
Son Nick would go along but he's busy raising the baseball team of kids he produced and collected; he teaches children struggling with distraction and impulsivity how to navigate the one-size is supposed to fit all world. Hint to educators everywhere: taking away recess as a punishment is the most counter-productive measure you could choose.
Her beloved Vespa, no longer drivable, will become a planter in front of the community garden where she worshiped every Sunday. While a ride on it ultimately killed her, she loved every moment on those two wheels. The mint green version, named Betty, was the last in a line of many and she could think of no better way to die than doing something she loved.
After again returning to college, this time to become an oceanographer, at age 62, she went on to study the wild depths of the Pacific Ocean. She led expeditions that resulted in a new understanding about the water surrounding all of us.
As a side pursuit, she also uncovered the science behind her curly hair looking so damn good at the beach. With the profits she earned from the wildly successful bottling actual salt water and selling it as a hair product venture, she created an endowment to fund a trip to the ocean for any kid living in a land-locked state. She believed fresh air, especially in wind form, is the fountain of youth.
She shooed kids, congresswomen, friends, and grumpy neighbors into the outdoors. Anyone who ever heard her admonishment to "get outside" will forever carry the gift (it is not a curse, no matter how inconvenient it may be) of hearing her voice whenever they choose an activity inside over an opportunity outside. You can thank her later.
Angi sought to infuse kindness at every opportunity. She wasn't always successful (yes, guy in the giant white truck, she did flip you off last week) but she believed we all are simply doing the best we can at any given moment. In addition to buying flowers (for yourself, not for her), or a limbo stick/stilts/hula hoop (and using it!), or a big box of your favorite candy (feel free to hog it, even if that means hiding it from the kids in your life) to celebrate her memory, she asked that you treat one person more kindly than necessary (being nice to yourself totally counts), today.
The grocery clerk with the giant attitude? Remember she is watching you purchase the healthy food she wants to feed her family but struggles to afford; look her in the eyes and truly thank her. The elderly man pitching a fit to cut in line at the airport? The employee who originally helped him accidentally kept his identification and if he doesn't get it back quickly, he will miss the flight to watch his great-granddaughter pitch in the Little League World Series. Cut the assholes, and yourself, some slack.
Oh, and she really did mean to balance her checkbook, sweep her kitchen, write those thank you notes, return those calls, and wash her windows. Maybe next life.