My life was touched by two women who left this physical world this week. The first was my step-grandmother, Genny Jones. Grandmother, as many of us called her, took me in as one of her many grandchildren as soon as my step-father married my mother. She was half Chippewa and spent much of her youth in the traditional BIA Reservation Schools. She went to work as soon as she could. After marrying Grandfather, she continued to work, even after having three children. She de-boned chickens for Campbell’s Soup for much of her life. After retiring, she took care of the church next to her house, mowing the lawn and keeping up with her garden. She was a good cook. She was funny. She had the most common sense of anyone I had ever met. She was a woman of few words. But my step-father, Clinton, was one of the nicest men you will ever meet, so I know she was a great mother. While many might consider her a traditional working class housewife and mother, I do believe she was ahead of her time, living to the ripe old age of 90.
The other woman was my friend and yoga teacher, Stephanie Matson. I met her by working with her husband. I started taking her classes and we got to be friends. Her style of teaching inspired me to commit to my practice in a non-judgmental way. When she was diagnosed with leukemia a year and a half ago, I tried to help recommend some folks to fill in for her. One of those people I recommended suggested that I could teach for her. I talked it over with the Fitness Center Director and we both felt we’d feel more comfortable if I was certified. I did lots of homework and committed to an expensive and long 7 month 200 hour certification. She was with me in spirit and on Facebook through the whole process, checking in, encouraging me and being a support.
When she was through with the bone marrow transplant, I felt confident she would recover and I would again be her student. Her remission was far too brief and the process of trying to put her back into remission, so she could attempt a non-donor transplant, was too much for her already compromised system to take.
Her death is not so easy to write about. She was my age. She had two little boys. Grandmother had a full long life. But one thing both of these women taught me is that being true to who you are is the best way to live your life with integrity. Staying present is the best way to be. We can’t fear what has not yet come. We should not dwell in what has passed. Today I am reminded by them to live fiercely. Namaste Stephanie and God Bless Grandmother.