In honor of Sally Ross

Anna Looney gave one of the tributes to Sally Ross, buried today. Here is a link to the obituary. Anna began with quotes from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expery:

“But if you tame me,” said the fox to the Little Prince, “then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”

The Little Prince said to the pilot,“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”

At this moment, as we come together to remember and celebrate Sally, I’m conscious of how words fail us at this time of heart-breaking loss. We struggle to speak of her courage and love, not knowing how we will carry on without her.

So many people have shown their love for Sally Ross. Her beautiful obituary stated Sally’s deeply held value: “being there for your loved ones is the most important thing you can do.” This was Sally through and through: Sally was there for Charles, Andrew, Claire and Grace. She was there for friends and neighbors. She was unfailingly generous with her time, her attention and her presence even in the difficult years of dealing with cancer. Sally did not complain or check out when her health was challenged; I can’t recall one time when she begged off a request to help or a chance to do something kind for someone else. Sally never showed self-pity for the hard hand she was dealt.

By being present, Sally was an inspiration. Just a couple weeks ago, I asked her how she coped, having such a cheerful attitude, and she replied that each of us has this day, this present time, no guarantees. She said it so matter-of-factly.

Sally lived the fullest and best life possible, with absolute grace and true beauty.

Charles has said Sally was his perfect complement: cheerful and upbeat no matter what challenges life threw at them. I found Sally brought the same kind of positive attitude to all of us. Yet she was not a Pollyanna; Sally was a strong woman with a voice, opinions and a keen mind. We talked over life’s hard knocks and injustices, as well as our own foibles and silliness, all within a framework of genuine affection, humor and the benefits of age.

I cannot begin to describe how many ways Sally’s friendship blessed me and enriched my life. Most recently, Sally inspired me to try quilting. When I dreamed up a crazy plan of making a Christmas present quilt for my daughter, Sally helped me in every step —- showing me with patience and support how to do it, while step by step the sheets and batting were turned into a bed cover that was precisely what they wanted. (Seriously, she shocked and amazed me when she boldly took her scissors to expensive fabric, making necessary cuts required by the process, when she took the huge thing home and sewed it up, then together we chalked the quilting grid, both of us crawling around on the floor with pins and yardsticks to mark off the squares.)

At our New Year’s Eve party, Sally talked about the history of quilting and showed examples of quilts she’s made. Her beautiful handiwork caused us collectively to catch our breaths. Shortly afterwards, Sally taught me my first steps in quilting – a craft that I will continue, always with thoughts of Sally.

In fact, Sally’s quilting skills were another embodiment of her inner person. Through her kindness, warmth, and loving hospitality, Sally brought people together.Just as she had an eye for placing fabric into a master design, Sally brought people together around their table, in her living room, in her lovely back yard…. Sally made everyone feel included, loved and important.

What Sally did with fabrics, she also did with people in her life: weaving odd bits into a beautiful design that brought out the best in everyone and every thing.

I cannot begin to express how deeply I will miss Sally. Not having her physically present in my life is something I cannot fathom right now…She is indeed ‘our beloved Sally.’

Sally inspired me to be a better person through her friendship and example. I’m sure I speak for many here today that herlegacy inspires usto greater kindness and presence, to more intentional generosity and patience, to authentic loving service and commitment, and to divine grace and beauty.

Like the works of art her quilts are, Sally has created a life well-lived, full to the brim, bursting with color andsuffused with meaning. As her life and friendship have been a wonderful blessing to me – and to all of us, her impact will never leave us.

Like the Little Prince said to the pilot, when we look at the stars, we will think of our relationship. Sally is present in our hearts always. I am reminded again of James Taylor’s song – “Shower the people you love with love; show them the way you feel.”

In honor and celebration of our beloved Sally, let us be present today to each other. Let us shower the people we love with love. Let us find ways to connect with each other like beautiful patchwork quilts.