GAYS MILLS - It seems as though I’ve been stuck in a whirlwind of craziness and crisis lately.
Between my friend Jackson dying, poor Thatcher struggling to overcome any illness that crossed his path, complete with febrile seizures, extensive tests and a stay in the hospital-to the sudden and traumatic loss of my father-in-law Cisco, I thought we had had enough for a little while.
However, things were brought to a dramatic point on May 19 when we got the call that Chasca’s mom, Thatcher’s grandma, and a woman I considered a dear and close friend and second mother, Abby, collapsed and died, while drinking her morning cup of coffee at the age of 53.
I’ve taken comfort in a strange way knowing that she died doing one of her most favorite things in the world. Sitting at the table, drinking coffee and chatting. Probably reflecting happily on what the day would bring at Thatcher’s second birthday party that day and Chasca’s 30th birthday the following day.
The initial findings have deemed her cause of death to be an oversized heart. Which has caused us to laugh in disbelief during our times of sorrow at its irony, because if you knew Abby you knew that she had a piece of her heart to offer to anyone who needed it, whether they knew they did or not.
Chasca’s friends from his teenage days have reached out to him in droves, and the wife of one of them seemed to sum it up perfectly when she said, “all of Abby’s ‘lost boys’ are devastated because they feel like they lost their mom too.”
During the years, she made them feel important and worthy never turning them away despite their sometimes questionable choices or situations, and helped them find a path in life.
When Abby came into my life, Chasca was quick to share her has he had with all of the important people in his life. And, she never hesitated to fill that role as a friend, confidant, story teller (and listener, secret keeper, and giver of all the advice that you need and don’t need).
Only a year into our relationship, Chasca and I had the opportunity to go to Mexico with his family, traveling most directly for the majority of the trip with his mom and her friend Kim.
They say travel is stressful and usually people end up arguing, but for us it was effortless fun that I am so glad Chasca and I got to enjoy the experience with his mom.
I had gone there with a goal of finding an oversized bean pod that could be dried and turned into an instrument. One day in Villadolid, we separated from Abby and went about exploring with plans to meet up later for dinner. Toward the end of the day, we were standing in the square near this enormous beautiful church when up the street came walking Abby, in her oversized straw hat, carrying a enormous bean pod. She proudly presented it to me. She went on to explain she had made it her mission to find this hidden cenote she had read about and a bean pod for me, so I wouldn’t return to the US of A empty handed. Our friendship was cemented in a most solid state following that moment and many others that we had on the trip.
Abby made boundless efforts to help others with gestures that made a huge impact.
When my aunts found out she had passed, they both recalled the day when my mom was in the hospital dying and Abby showed up at Gundersen in La Crosse with a huge picnic meal for my dad’s birthday.
Every kind of bread, lunchmeat, and side salad you could dream up, even special-harder to find choices for my aunt who has serious diet restrictions. Her thoughtfulness was flooring.
There was enough to feed an army and it was all for about six people. She set everything up beautifully in the courtyard and we were able to escape the terrible reality we were experiencing for an hour.
As for Thatcher, he was fortunate to have two years with his “Obby.”
Her feeling of pride over the birth of her second grandson, the first from her baby boy, was obvious every time she saw them together over the last two years. Walking into her home the day she died, I was overwhelmed by emotion to see every photo I had ever given her of Chasca and Thatcher displayed prominently.
Abby even made her mark on Thatcher’s development, by giving him his first story to tell. He has been struggling with stringing together things that resemble sentences. I was equally proud and amused when he told me the story of his day with his Obby from start to finish on one of the last times she watched him.
“Obby worm-bee bee pock-bee out YEAH! Buck bucks eat yeah!” Which translates from toddler to “Grandma Abby put a worm in my pocket, but I took it out and I fed it to the chickens, the whole situation made me really happy.”
I am thankful Thatcher has this story even though I know his direct memories of her will fade over time. Fortunately her art, her heart and her eccentric wonderful life will be with everyone who knew her, in one way or another.