Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Aunt Myra

Parasailing granny does it again (PHOTOS) May 16, 2011 3:33 PM Destin Log staff reports FROM PREVIOUS YEARS: OH, CHUTE! 92-year-old has a blast with birthday parasail Myra Morris celebrates her 94th birthday with style in Destin. The South Carolina native has been parasailing with Captain John of Gilligan’s Parasail every year for her birthday for the past seven years. Morris and her eldest granddaughter, Robin Morse of Hattiesburg, Miss., got a bird’s eye view of Destin. Morris was in town celebrating her birthday on May 12 with 17 relatives from Mississippi, South Carolina and Canada. from thedestinlog.com
My lovely Aunt Myra died early in the morning on Thursday. Myra Dean Hopkins Morris was the dearest, spunkiest, sunniest, most delightful person one could know. She could charm teens as easily as old friends, get them smiling and laughing even when they meant to do no such thing at all! I don't remember work ever being mentioned by her, but she retired as an editor for the Army Infantry Board; her husband was my mother's brother, my Uncle Hugh, and like my other male relations of that generation, was a war veteran. Even in old age, Aunt Myra would dress in jewel colors like a tropical bird. One of the last times I saw her, we brought in our pile of just-purchased shoes from a discount store in Asheville so she could try them on for a lark--she always loved shopping for shoes. She could make a little episode like that into something that made you laugh and the tears spring to your eyes. If Yeats was right that we must choose between being the maker of our art or of our lives (and while he meant poets, it applies to everybody), then she was a master: of life. Even though she was ready to go on to the next one--being bent by the aches and crookedness of 95--she made this life shine for everybody around her. I can just imagine her flitting through the galaxies like a bright bird, making the stars laugh.

13 comments:

  1. What a wonderful Auntie to have in your life! Loved reading this little portrait...and i will hold on to those last 2 lines for myself to remember.

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  2. I remember you mentioning her before. My condolences on the loss. But what good models you have for old age in your family! A beautiful portrait.

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  3. Yes, I have had some older women in my life who make me think that it is possible to grow old with grace.

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  4. so sorry to hear about this. I also remember you writing about her. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Susanna

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  5. Thanks, Susanna--

    You are a sweet orphan. I feel for you! Wish I were there today, but a younger friend of my mother is driving her to Greer, SC for the funeral. I thank her! And I'm very glad that I saw my aunt several times in the past couple of years.

    Meanwhile, it is the usual madness here. Some going to Katahdin, company arriving, etc.

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  6. An amazing and delightful lady, what an example of aging gracefully and joyfully for so long! You and your family have been lucky having her in your lives and will miss her. I love how you've written about her. My warm condolences for the loss.

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  7. Marja-Leena,

    Also of how never to complain--I know she suffered, but she never let it dim her light or be what she wanted to discuss.

    Yes, lucky.

    Vicki,

    I had to go back and see what the two lines were! Thanks.

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  8. She sounds wonderful, Marly, andI agree - how lucky we are to have models for how to grow older with grace and spirit. If "we must choose between being the maker of our art or of our lives" the message must have gotten lost on you and me, since we seem to be trying to do both, and I blame those female ancestors of mine!

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  9. I wonder if that's a thing a man feels free to say but not a woman...

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  10. Хорошо! Все бы так писали :)

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  11. Хорошо! Все бы так писали :)

    * * *

    Must have accidentally deleted the anonymous comment above when getting rid of spam, so I paste it back in to give a little wave toward Russia. I've noticed a lot of Russian visitors but never felt sure if they were reading, since there are all sorts of other reasons people come to blogs and attempt to use them in various ways.

    I think this says "Good! Everything (or all) should be so (well-)written." But I might be entirely wrong, it being decades since my little scrap of Russian.

    But I am thankful for my many visitors from the other side of the world!

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  12. Your Aunt was clearly a woman of unforgettable character. You must weave her into literature Marly. You capture her so vividly.

    David Lewis, he who brightened our lives too briefly... I wish I had known him for a lifetime rather than a little short of five, brief years... died peacefully on Wednesday evening after a illness of shocking swiftness. He was seventy-three. Peter and I thought that he was one who would show us all how to grow old in style.

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  13. Oh, yes, she is lovely! A little jeweled bird...

    I am surprised about your friend David. From what you had said before, I thought he would have more time. But I believe he handled that terrible malady in a way more pleasing that others I've known who fought it rather than gliding away. Pax tecum, Clive!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.