Today, Manuela's funeral will be held.
I will not be there.
I am away. Wishing I was there. Knowing that, even as I tried to get back, she would have me stay, she would have me do what I came here to do. Manuela was remarkably unsentimental about things that needed to be done. You did them. You did them well. You didn't moan about it. I fail on a couple of those counts fairly regularly. She seldom did.
This is not going to be a tribute blog. I plan on writing something, nearer the time of Vita's memorial service - where I will have the honour to speak of her life and work. Then, as that day nears, I plan on taking some quiet time of reflection and write about the woman who became much more than my boss, she became both my mentor and my friend.
Yesterday, Joe and I went to the museum here in Kelowna, I rolled around alone looking at the exhibits. I had an odd feeling. Like I'd spent the last several days, walking around the museum of memories I have with Manuela. Fragments of images flash on the screen of my mind. Images of her living largely. Laughing loudly. Raging injustices. Thoughtfully pondering. Eagerly questioning. Maybe it was the Italian heritage, but living with emotion, living with passion, was the way she spent her days. It could be exhausting.
We travelled well together. All three of us talk. Well, Joe is a little quieter. But we'd drive the drive from Toronto to New York City and back without a quiet moment. On those drives we'd dream big dreams, plot out big plans. She was a someone who did things, big things. She made things happen, not magically willing the world to change, but actually working to make a difference.
These memories, in my little museum in my mind, are not dusty. They still have the fresh scent of recency on them. I will them not to diminish with time. I will them not to grow dusty.
Ruby wrote the card that Mike and family sent with their flowers. It said: 'My name is Ruby, I am nearly five years old. I liked it when I came to your place and you showed me how to catch frogs. You told me that girls could catch as many frogs as boys. I caught more frogs than my Daddy did. I will miss you this summer.'
Well, Manuela convinced me that I could catch frogs too ... different frogs than Ruby caught ... and I'll miss her all the summers of my life too.