We don’t live in St. Louis anymore, Madelyn, me. Not since going away to college, she more than I, have we called that place home. I look at her, the concentrated Madelyn, sitting across from me. Concentrated because we are smaller, like raisins, where we were like grapes. We are not the children, or young girls we once were. But she is still the caring and responsive soul who flew around the ceilings and downspouts of our Florissant home and found it warm.
The Madelyn across the table is the most direct response possible to the girl who traveled along with me since fourth grade. Now she would call it “Grade Four”. Yep, she has added another citizenship to herself, now part of the mosaic in Canada. Her life has really evolved. She had her sister in her kindergarten class when she first started teaching.
In 1969, and before, she had a mission. She was going to stop all war. Period. She worked in approved ways, through teaching and dialogue. Her mind was always on high ideas. She still does this work, on an international level.
People are always falling in love with Madelyn, men, women. Always. I remember in high school, those who came upon her lately, burdened her heavily with their problems. At times it was too much for her to carry. The weight was so heavy. Not needing much sleep, she worked her miracles. She conducted more than just one life.
She went away to Smith College. Thought I would never see her again. There she was, surrounded by the elite, understanding what they knew. Not Midwestern anymore. No more “Denver skies”. It was through my musings about the loss of Madelyn that I realized my college choices were not correct. I did not engage the problem, and choose. I let the choice happen to me. Turns out graduating from Smith was not all it was supposed to be.
The next several decades are unknown to me except in recent conversations. Her work went on, the marriage did not (most of us have been there). Unbelievably, she named her second child, a boy, after me. It was thirty-five or more years after the fact that she told me. Can you imagine how this feels?
Along with some other important small things, a button Madelyn gave me has been with me most of my life. “People are Beautiful” it says boldly and unequivocally (not to be confused with “Beautiful People” which came along in the next decade). She also gave me a copy of “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, with a peace sign inscribed in the “O” in the title.
“Dear Lee, Your genuine gladness is wonderful to many who know you. This is why it is good to celebrate your seventeenth year since coming to the earth….I hope this day is exciting for you, and that every year will be happier and full of more love, for you and The Big World! Love, Madelyn
Thank you for everything, Madelyn.