Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Miriam Foster 1921-2010

We buried my aunt yesterday, my mother's sister and best friend. Miriam (Thrall) Foster was born 27 years and one day before me, so we almost shared a birthday. Yesterday was a day she would have loved, with the redbud and dogwood flowering in the woods where the big trees are just showing green.

She was like a second mother, and we kids were always overjoyed to visit the Fosters, which brought together a cacophonic collection of nine kids born over a span of ten years (1946-1956) -- eleven when their brother and his family could be there too. She was soft-spoken and tough- minded, always asking the thought-provoking question or making the comment that went straight to the heart. At the memorial service, her foster son recalled a visit home when he said that people at work upset him; she replied that nobody could make you upset, that was up to you. Another son read from her diary entry for 7 December 1941, expressing her steadfast abhorrence of war even when it was most popular.

She brought classical music and a cosmopolitan taste to our family, but I also recall her making a point of watching Charles and Diana's royal wedding, and doubled over with laughter at a Dave Barry column. When I first wrote a short piece for publication, it seemed perfectly natural that I would frame it as a letter to her.

At the memorial service we sang familiar hymns and my mind ran back to her father, her grandfather (Methodist ministers both), and her Welsh great-grandmother Hannah (James) Thrall -- left a widow on the Illinois prairie in the winter of 1852 with five children -- the songs carrying them forward into the blank and forbidding future that became us.

Outside my window this morning, the redbuds are reaching for sun. They came from her.


Lois said...

Wow - you sure gave me goosebumps throughout this tribute. Sure wish I could have made it to the service. Thank-you! Lois

LeRoy said...

Thank you for sharing your memory of your aunt. May we all learn from her.

KMMofLA said...

Harold, what a lovely and moving tribute and memories of your aunt. Thanks for sharing her.

Apple said...


I am very sorry for your loss. It is obvious that she will be dearly missed.