Tuesday, May 21, 2013

my memorial piece for Sally (plus Margie's write-up)

(slightly changed from the original version, particularly names)

I met Sally in 2001 at about the same time I met M.

But it wasn’t until her relationship with L was on the skids that we became fast friends. We would talk on the phone for hours and hours about our common experiences. Very early on I decided I loved her and told her so.

From then on, she became a major presence in my life and in the life of N and M. She put on birthday parties for our family members; she threw a graduation party for N;  she came to most of our local concerts and all of my art gallery shows; she compared height sizes with N as N was sprouting into a teenager (she’d say, “N, do you have to grow? I need more people down here at my level.”). During a particularly stressful court battle that I went through with Allstate, she was there for that too, cheerleading for me in the wings. We had more dinners and get-togethers than I can count.

When M had major surgeries and I wanted to tell family how he had fared, I called N first, Sally second and my mother third. That’s how important she was to us.

Indeed, I often told her she was my adopted sister.

This year, I spent a great deal of time taking care of my father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When I would come home for the rare weekend here and there or to take care of M for yet another surgery, I would cry with Sally on the phone. I would tell her how hard it was to lose such a good person with such a big heart. Indeed, my father was the apple of my eye and it was very hard to see him so sick and not be able to do anything about it. She was the ever-soothing presence and she would say “Oh, Lees, I’m so sorry”  over and over.

I was not prepared to get the phone call that Sally had died in the midst of all of this.  Indeed, I often found it too painful. When I went back to T  for the last 5 days of my father’s life, I would sit beside him in bed, rubbing his legs, trying to get him to eat ice cubes, telling him how much I loved him, choking up about Sally. The last day of my father’s life, I wanted to call Sally in the worst way. It was then that I could swear that Sally was with me. She said, “Lees, you don’t have to call me. I’m right here beside you and I’m not going anywhere.”

When my father took his last breath, I was with him. And it seemed Sally was very much there too, welcoming him to the club.

Two people with huge hearts, major figures in my life died ten days apart from each other.

I hope they are the ones I see first when I go through the pearly gates myself. We should all be so lucky.

Margie Rosenkranz's write-up:

Our beautiful and impish friend SALLY passed away unexpectedly last Thursday morning in her sleep... She was 63 years young and I can tell you, no one was expecting this. 
Sally and I would've been friends for 50 years come September, and I cannot count the holes in my life at this moment. She was president of the board for The Eighth Step, the grassroots music presenting organization which I help run, godmother to my son, and a fairy godmother to my girls. Sally raised friendship to an art form; there are so many people out there I have heard wonderful things about - for years! - and you know what? We have been so very, very lucky to have her! 

We are planning a less conventional musical memorial at 1 pm on Sunday, May 19 at The Eighth Step Underground (Proctors). We're calling it "Garden of Friends" after Sal's love of the outdoors, friends and music. (She was due to cook dinner backstage in a few weeks for Tom Rush, Scottish singer Dougie MacLean and probably Pete Seeger - and boy, was she happy about it.) That's the chance to celebrate the joy she brought us all: telling stories, spouting Sally-isms and singing along or even contributing a song. Forget? Never.

Some pictures of Sally and me:

at the Killington Renaissance Faire where we performed
She drove a long way with some of her family members just to see us.
That was Sally. She always went out of her way for her friends.

decorating Sally's tree at Christmas
She stuck bundles of baby's breath in the limbs and it looked fabulous!

I will have some artwork commemorating these two beautiful people (Sally and my father) in the months and years to come.


  1. Sounds like Sally brought a lot of love and magic into your life ...

    1. Indeed she did. She had a huge heart and I have found two other families since I wrote this who had the same benefits of having Sally be a part of their family life.