She was wearing a chic French head wrap the last time I saw her, covering her chemo-detonated hair.  An elegant cane maintained her tall, willowy silhouette.  Even at 80, a widow of three months, deep into her own physical decline and spiritual conciliation, she was salty to the bone.  “Elevate, women”, she barked to our lunch group, gathered to pay her homage.  “Let’s get this conversation out of the ditch!”  (Why were we swapping mad squirrel stories, anyway?)  “What have you been readingThinking?  Or better, still, what have been creating??  We knew her rules:  no twaddle about men, children, or weather.  But we loved to talk about her – especially her tart verbal hand-slaps, affectionately rendered, calling us to higher ground.  Which meant to Linette — Argentinean by birth, French by marriage, and glamorous by nature — living and breathing with style

Today, inside her exquisite, stained glass, Catholic church, (wearing snakeskin boots in her honor), I’m recounting my days with Linette, now come to an end.  In the Mass spoken, the melodies we feebly sing, the faces of friends, I look for signs of her.  My eye keeps returning to the colors in a southern window set ablaze by the midday sun.  Amethyst.  Amber.  Cobalt. Crimson. Malachite green.  On fire!  The fingers of a palmetto frond on the other side of the window fan in the wind, rustling the light with its shadow.  All through the service I rest in that light, breaking open the window’s color like popping lids of fresh cans of paint, spilling it all over the interior of the cold church.  Like Linette.  

The light from beyond is always passing by all of us, I suppose.  I want to offer up my colors – specific and intense, sharp and liquid – and hope to become transparent enough that the light will catch and break them open, spill them on the floor, fill my interior, spatter the faces of those I love.  None of us, I imagine, ever see through into another soul as through a clear pane of glass.  How could we?  And yet, we bask in the beam of another’s fiery colors.

 Today, I bask in the old but undimmed glass of that window.  It is a sacrament of sorts, praising the palette of her life.  Startling, specific, elevated.  Her prismatic poem to the light.   Casting its hue on every face that gathers here, loving her.


~ by Stephanie on 01/07/2010.

3 Responses to “At.Linette’s.Service”

  1. A very beautiful tribute to Linette. And wasn’t that a great photo of her in the program — both of them, actually. Fun to run into you yesterday. Harriet

    And Stephanie, good to see you too. I am not a sports fan, of any sort, but is “how bout them devils appropriate? Harriet

  2. So true! Well said! Linette would love the idea of the spilling colors! Thank you! She was my mom and she was also my “artist mom” and I lost them both the same day: I will need all the support that my artist sisters can give me! Who will critique every aspect of my life, my feeble attempts at watercolors, writing?

  3. Magical words for a magical lady. When we got the call Sunday evening, C.D. got out a bottle of champagne, turned off all of the lights except the Christmas tree, and we toasted her on her flight to Paradise. Recalling so many treasured moments with her here and in Normandy. Laughing, crying,telling favorite moments, what we loved about her, sipping our champagne in the dark. Who else brings forth such a response to death?

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