Erma McCann turned 87 this year and every other day in this grueling winter I watched her walk gingerly and with some frailty out of her house in boots and with shovel, to complete the cleanup that the plows had started.
Her husband Martin was dead, as was her son, but Erma despite darkening skies and blackening ice, always said yes: to the storm, to the ice, to coffee, to tangelos, to a loaf of rasberry banana bread.
I saw her in church once and her heart, she told me, was weak. The chemo had damaged it. Last week a fire truck, police car and ambulance arrived to take her to hospice. She came out the house smiling, her head in a scarf and her tall slim body wrapped in a sheet. She looked like a disciple.
At hospice, from bed on one of the first bright balmy brilliant days of a long-awaited spring, her eyes shone blue fire; her skin was as white and smooth as the crocus I’d brought from her garden. “You look radiant,” I said. She wasn’t leaving, it seemed evident, she was going somewhere.
Pastor Tim came and we all stood holding hands around Erma. He spoke to her of her childhood, of play, of green grass and blue sky. Afterwards Erma broke out into a song of her own girlhood, “Jesus Loves me This I Know Because The Bible Tells Me So.” Afterward, she gripped my hand, as if it were I who were being left. “You take care of yourself,” she said. To listen: Jesus Loves Me