Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She ruled the house with an Okie twang

I had four months to write the obituary but I held my breath anyway. Every member of our family had their talents and tasks and could do them far better than I could write an obit. Debbie and Fran cooked the meals; Bill administrated; Joanie shopped; Brad wrote the eulogy; Melisa fixed the plumbing; others kept the kids occupied; I stared at the computer.

For one whole Saturday, we all shared one house and one bed - the bed my stepmother died on. Twenty-five family members cooked and ate and joked and sat at her bedside. She rallied for us and laughed and ate her favorite cake. We partied and Marie held court until we all bedded down on couches and pallets. On Sunday she transitioned into a coma and on Monday hospice took over.

I stared at the computer or played sudoku, finally jotting down memories of first impressions until the muse flowed and the obit was complete. She died on Wednesday and the minister wanted anecdotal information so I sent him the obituary I had intended for a small Oklahoma town newspaper near the Texas panhandle.

Brad spoke the eulogy and Bill thanked thanked the visitors. The Methodist minister led us in prayer and then read the obit. I told him he could. But he didn't stop at the list of descendants she'd left behind and my face flushed as I realized he was also reading from my stream-of-consciousness notes which I'd forgotten to delete from the final draft. Guess which part people liked the most.

In memory of Marie, here is the obit, including the notes, excepting the personal information. If you knew her or my dad, go here to post a note.

Peggy Marie was born the second child to Ben and Lennie B. in Vinson, Oklahoma, August 5, 19--. She grew up in Hollis, OK with her two brothers, Edwin and Ben A. B.. Marie loved to tell stories to her children and grandchildren of working at the soda fountain in her father’s pharmacy. She enjoyed laughter and children and family and pulling pranks. Every family member has a tale about the rubber fried egg she’d serve for breakfast; or the holes she cut in her dress so she didn’t have to wear it; or the dead chicken she would serve for dinner. She ruled her home with laughter and an Okie twang.

Marie, as she was known to her family, married Alan David Miedrich on June 4, 19--, at the base chapel in K. I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan. Their union blended two families into one loving unit. She followed Alan, an Air Force pilot and career officer across the country in sixteen moves and was a master at making a house into a home. She earned her realtor license in three states and was a sought after interior designer and decorator. Every living space had to be both beautiful and child-friendly.

Marie’s Christian faith was the bedrock of both her life and her death. Her special talent was encouragement. After a long and debilitating illness, she continued to speak kind and encouraging words to comfort her family. Marie specifically wanted to thank her parents, her brothers and her husband Alan for contributing to a blessed life. When she died on March 4, 2009, she passed peacefully in her home surrounded by all her family, just as she had wanted.

I first met Marie when I was ten, I think. We drove from South Carolina to Michigan in one of those large Chevys that hold a lot of kids in the back seat. There were three of us kids and she had to keep us entertained and introduce herself all at the same time. She taught us how to draw cartoon monkeys and goofy faces. She told us stories about her disobedient childhood: how she cut holes in her dress and plucked out all her eyelashes. When Daddy got impatient, she uttered a gentle, “Al” that had this magical effect on him.

Once home in that bordertown airbase, her arguments with Daddy always landed him in hot water. She tickled him until he cried uncle. Her bathroom towels were bright pink. Her hair was a foot tall. And she ruled the house with an Okie twang.

Mealtimes were a treat: you never knew when you’d be served the fried bacon and rubber egg or told you were having dead chicken for dinner. But boy could she cook. Wilted lettuce, black-eyed peas, fried okra, chicken and dumplings, pepper jelly, chow-chow, and the best Thanksgiving dinner you’ll ever eat.


Anonymous said...

I would like to Know what an Okie Twang is ? could you please tell me?

Elena said...

Ya me to i was reading a book and it has some girl with an Okie Twang.. so what is one?

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Those of us from Texas have an accent that we call a "Texas drawl" made famous in movies where it takes the old guy on the porch about two minutes to say "Well, he went thataway."

An Okie Twang is a might similar to a Texas drawl, just not as famous. The folks in Oklahoma might disagree with me, but they know Texas is bigger, so they don't say much.