Letter from Kate Rothwell

I always thought that when you died, you were gone.  I'd discounted that stuff about "the dead surviving in the hearts of the living" as a palliative told by people who didn't know how else to comfort kids facing death.  But now, with Rosemary gone, I feel the honest truth of this. Her strength, her lightheartedness, her profound and simple views are a part of my life. I haven't seen her for years.  But I don't think that a day goes by that I haven't felt her influence.  I can recall so much about her, even dumb things, like the way she preferred drinking out of a glass rather than a pottery mug when she had a cold.  I think it's because she was so completely alive and aware of her world that he vitality (even when she was at her weakest) couldn't fail to leave an impression.

I spend a week with her when she was at a low point in her life -- soon after surgery, while she was finishing up radiation.  And my strongest memory of that time is a sort of odd guilt. I was supposed to be take care of her, but I had a wonderful visit with her.  I knew she was in pain, and unhappy.  I expected rages or a change of personality.  But even then, she was warm and interested in the world.  When she felt rotten, she'd announce the felt rotten, lie down or a while and then come back, weak perhaps, but still completely herself.  She didn't push herself to be civil, it was so much her basic nature that she was honest and THERE, even at her worst time when her defenses were down.

I've lost other important people in my life, including my father.  But for some reason I can't conjure them up -- their laugh, their responses to a situation -- as simply I can Rosemary.  To have known Rosemary, to still feel her influence, is one of the best gifts of my life.