Elizabeth Adda Robinson Ratcliffe
In Memoriam

Text Bruce Ratcliffe read at April 17, 2016 Memorial Service


Your Presence In Our Lives For 9-Plus Decades

When Lewis was off having his trigeminal neuralgia treated surgically (which worked!), I must have come for a visit. I can’t remember the details but much later, cleaning my desk, I found seven small notepad papers filled with my Mom’s scrawl. I was able to transcribe them into english. With the outcome of Lewis’ operation uncertain, and the length of her remaining time on Earth anybody’s guess, one might imagine a self-absorbed Weltschmerz. But no:

Thank you, Bruce, for all your care. I’m so very grateful (gratitude full). It’s 2AM & my breathing is getting more labored.

Life has been a wonderful kick-in-the-pants journey & maybe my writing this note isn’t really the end for me. I well might still be alive tomorrow. But I feel ready to go—no regrets.

Please give all your siblings my love, and you, too. You have been a real Human Being—(remember “Human Bean”! Ha Ha.) (I’m pretty skinny so ‘Bean Pole’ is what was sometimes my name.) Good job!

P.S. Tell Patty how much I appreciate her being here with me & so full of love & care. I might miss Dave’s arrival—who knows? (Of course she didn’t, either that time or the countless times Dave flew all the way from Boston to care for his Mom so selflessly that we were all able to take the full measure of what love made manifest in action can accomplish.)

I did love Steve’s being here tonight. I’m happy you two shared time together—Maybe I’ll still be here tomorrow.

When Lewis comes back I hope to be still here. But if not be sure to tell him he’s been a wonderful addition to my long life. He knows I love him dearly. I hope his operation is helpful.

What struck me about Mom’s thoughts was how, even at what she thought might be her last moments on Earth, she drew joy from those around her—AND reflected it back to those same givers of joy, making them recipients of her admiration.

On her benedictine 7th scrap she wrote:

There is so much to say to all of my closest family—EVERY one has added to my joy & appreciation of this amazing gift of Life.

It’s now 2:30 & I will try to go back to sleep. Please thank everyone.

Months later we shared a memorable phone conversation (after which I just stared at the stars for a long time). Later, I wrote her a letter which ended:

My idle ruminations brought me as close as I’ve ever known to satori. I realized that when you die, your absence/our sorrow will be the single thorn on the rose that has been your presence in our lives for nine plus decades. One of your friends put your gift to us this way:

She was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what was great to enjoy.

(and no greater enjoyment than people)

Why would anyone want to end a performance with rave reviews like that? But it will end; I draw comfort knowing that you have made your peace, and can go gentle into that good night.

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