A particular Ralph Waldo Emerson quote comes to mind when I think of how many lives my mom touched during her 76 years on this earth. It’s so fitting.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

I received this very special message the other day, and I have to say that when my time comes, I can only hope someone will feel this way about me. The experiences explained below took place 40+ years ago.

Dear Ann,

First I would like to express my sympathy on the loss of your Mother and friend. Thank you for posting the blogs and sharing so much with us.

I feel compelled to share a few memories of your mom in her much younger years. I first met your family when I worked at the Fruit market across the street from your Dad’s dry cleaning business. I was 15 when I started working there. I am not sure how old your parents were but they were younger than my parents and so much more fun.

Your Mom enjoyed life, had a wit that made me laugh, and was so smart. She also had a little girl that she loved dearly and I had the privilege of babysitting her (you). We became friends and I became part of your family and I loved it. I had many delicious dinners at your house. We played games and went for boat rides at Moraine. They knew my boyfriends. And you were the most awesome little kid. You were so loved by both your parents.

Your Mom could say things to me that my mom could not. As a result, she became a mentor to me. I can attribute much of my success and values to her. It is good for a teenager to be friends with someone who can say “That was stupid” or “What are you thinking?” She encouraged me to go to college and have a career when I couldn’t think past tomorrow. She was wise!

Our friendship continued until I moved to West Virginia, at the age of 22. I’m not sure when you moved to Columbus.

I now teach and work with teens. I am not as witty as your Mom, but I have the honor of saying to many of them “That was stupid” or “What are you thinking?”

I guess what I am saying is I am part of your Mom’s legacy and the people I come in contact with are too. Never underestimate the power of words, actions, friendships, and most of all love. I believe that God put your Mom on this earth at this time to do the job she did so well, both in her healthy years and the not so healthy.

Job well done, Marilyn! Now you can rest in Peace!