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Honor those who lived large with large living

It is a fact of life that from the time we take our first breath, we head in one direction. Not to sound too morbid, however, we are born dying, a fact that becomes more real the older we get.

Now, that isn’t a thought on which I dwell, but every so often something reminds me my time, our time, breathing and being is not indefinite. In the last little while, the reminder appeared in the form of farewells.

People, famous out in the big world, and people known in a smaller orbit made their exits. To me, they were kind of larger-than-life folks that I suppose I thought would live forever.

For example, Peter, the famous Peter of the Monkeys, died a few days ago. In my mind, he is forever that cute guy of my teenage years, the one with the floppy, bowl-cut hair. He was what we called “cute.” (Those were the days before young ladies labeled males as “hot.”)

I saw a picture of him shortly before he died, and like happens to all of us, he wasn’t young and cute anymore. Didn’t matter because in my head he is forever that bouncy, boyish Monkey of my adolescence.

Closer to home, two women, slipped from this world recently. They were strong, smart and accomplished. A fairly large circle of folks around here knew them both. That knowing came mostly because of their occupations and their involvement in their communities.

First, Lucille Foley. Ah, what can I say about this woman. If you encountered her when she was on a mission to get something done, you experienced the life force that was Mrs. Lucille. Words just don’t adequately describe the being that was Lucile Woodham Foley.

In my mind, I still see her breezing through the door of the Opp newspaper office. She had this trademark Lucille walk. How to tell you what it looked like is a challenge. It fell somewhere between a short-stepping march and a glide. And, there was that smile and those determined eyes.

She had a way of getting things done, again in ways that defy description. I admired her because to me she was an example of a woman who moved in a man’s world and knew how to navigate. She loved her town and had such pride in it. And there was a kindness about her and a sense of humor that you experienced when you got to know her.

I heard she passed quietly, but she didn’t live quietly. She lived a life that said, “This is who I am and I’m proud to know you.” Hard for me to imagine Opp without Lucille in it.

Then I heard that Barbara Linder died a few days ago. I met her at LBW College in my student years. She was so smart it was kind of intimidating. Then in the middle of explaining something complicated, she’d laugh, and what a wonderful laugh it was.

Over the years, I had an opportunity to work with her on a couple of different committees. Always, she cared about making things better and she believed education was the way to help make the world better.

For me, she was a shining example of a strong, smart, caring woman who used her life to make a difference. The fact that she loved gardening made her near perfect in my book. She was “Pink Perfection” just like her favorite camellia.

Yes, it’s true, we come here leaving, but oh between that first breathe and our last is a world of possibilities. Whether we become as world famous as a Monkey, as locally famous as Lucille and Barbara or only famous in our own small circle, we leave behind reminders of what we did with our time and opportunities.

So while I’m still breathing, while everyone reading this is still breathing, how about we honor those larger-than-life folks who are gone by living a little large ourselves before we take that last breath.

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.