Dear Family and Friends,
My mother, Dorothy Raitt Lykes, died on February 25, 2004. Her four surviving children and two nieces cared for her at home. Knowing
we were there, she said, “I am loved.” With her death, she gave me
a new understanding of death and life. There were enough little signs
to convince me that whatever happens, all is as it should be. I’ve spent
a lot of time since then appreciating being here, and who she was. I see her
often in my dreams where she is always alive and it is always good.
I stayed on in Phoenix where my sister, Debbie, let me assist in her seventh grade history
classes, and working with small groups of ‘slow readers.’ Recent immigrants from Mexico, these kids are smart, but disadvantaged by their lack of English. I fell in love with them and rediscovered why I became a teacher.
On my way home, I flew to Salt Lake City for ten days with Dad and Elaine. “You said you would like to go for a walk. Shall we?”
Dad, 82, asked. We headed off at 11.00 a.m. after a light breakfast, carrying
no food or drink.
“Aren’t you hungry, Dad?” I
asked some time later.
“Belly thinker!” he replied.
“Won’t you have sore muscles tomorrow?” I
We turned back when the path ended in a snow bank.
4 ˝ hours and ten miles later, we were home. He didn’t have sore muscles. Elaine makes a great clam
chowder and is a wonderful hostess.
In September, I joined a fitness center. In three months, I increased
the strength in some muscle groups by 400%. I love it that people even older
than I are working out! There seems to be no upper age limit for fitness.
I joined an English-language theater group – when I told Mom, she said, “I’m
all for it!” – and made my onstage debut with a one-night reading performance from a winning play; sadly not my
own. I am editing their newsletter which appears online at www.upstage.ch.
A local piano-smith repaired our 80-year old piano and I’m playing again! I love it!
I have stopped writing for one year – my
version of wearing black for my mom – and started reading. “If
you want to be a writer,” Mom said, “you have to read, read, read.” So,
like a tortoise, I plow through “Parabola,” “The Georgia Review,” “Poets and Writers,”
“Bottom Line Health,” and 52
issues of “The New Yorker” she
subscribed to for me. She believed in education.