September 30, 2022, Flagstaff- Today would have been Penny’s 68th birthday. She would have joined me in cringing, if anyone said sixty-eight YEAR anniversary. We were of one mind, about language purity, and if anything, she was more adamant about precision, when it came to names of people and things.
She saw beauty in most things, although acts of racism and sexism were called out for what they were. She struggled, mightily, to throw off her own vestiges of prejudice, and would have made overcoming “white fragility” a major focus of her life, had she been here when it rose as a social construct.
The most important creatures in her life were animals, especially dogs. People could be the source of disappointment and letdown, but dogs and horses were blameless. Cats were outside animals, and they could come and go at will, but dogs were a source of comfort. Horses were the epitome of nobility, and visits to her horse-owning parents most often meant a ride or two, until she could ride no more.
She would be happy at what women and girls have achieved, in terms of resisting paternalism. Although she, like me, abhorred the idea of abortion, she would have remained adamant that it was the woman’s ultimate choice-not to be relegated to others, especially men. She was of a mind to challenge and argue with doctors, when she saw fit. That, besides the undying respect I had for her judgement and dignity, was why she kept primacy over decisions to be made regarding her health. She was a steadfast advocate for holistic health practices and organic foods. I have tried to keep the faith, in that respect.
She had a strong love for children, and fought with herself-a lot, to put their well-being above her urge towards ego-centrism, the legacy of having been raised as a “princess”. This didn’t do her health any favours, but she was a good mother to Aram, and a fine wife to me. She was also a strong and dedicated teacher, even at the end-when declining health and unsympathetic administrators made her professional life a nightmare. The children always came first.
I like to think she would approve of my autumnal years, and how they are playing out. I get inklings, every now and then, like the image of a spirit that appears on the wall calendar, as if to say, “You are not alone”.