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.

4 comments:

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.
Kathi

Apple said...

Harold,

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