My godmother's mother passed away yesterday. She would have been 104 in December. Mrs. Green stayed active up to a few years ago. I think it was breaking her hip that slowed her down, but up until that point she had "playdates" with her womenfolk friends, played with her grandson and spent time relaxing with the dog. You wonder what tears can be shed when someone has been able to live which such fullness, but they flow anyway. Loss is loss, no matter if you know it's coming or how well you think you've prepared yourself. I've been thinking a lot about what Mrs. Green must have thought of this world. Of how much it transformed while she grew from babe to young woman to wife to mother to grandmother and great-grandmother. The opportunities afforded to her children and theirs, that she would have not dreamed possible.
We take change for granted, probably because it is inevitable or maybe because lasting change usually takes a while. I remember my godmother talking about how much her mother focused on etiquette. I don't know why of all the stories she's shared, this has stuck with me. But now, with her passing, I'm struck by how much the world misses the Mrs. Greens, who believed in manners and treating others with respect and dignity. Who believed that the way that you conduct yourself says a lot about the person you are. There was a time when I didn't see the importance of such a standard. When I thought, as most young, selfish, naive folks do, that "etiquette" was old fashioned and out of date. But as I watch young people stroll across the street on red, without even a pep in their step, holding up traffic and daring somebody to honk their horn; when I see 7 & 8 year olds yelling at their parents while they are in the midst of conversation; when please and thank you are quickly fading as automatic; when "self" supersedes all other concerns, I'm seeing what we're becoming without the voice of Mrs. Green.