Friday, April 4, 2014

Goodbye Alice Raftary

On our way out to lunch....If she had a bad hair day, Alice would wear this colorful hat. I took the color out because I was going to paint this in oil paint, and I always start in black and white so I can make my own color combinations. I think it would make a "Grand" painting. She liked to say grand.
 I just realized that if she wanted to give you a particularly good piece of advice she would start with the word "Sweetie". I wonder if she knew she had your attention when she said it. Then she would give you a great line or two and move on. I wish I would have figured this out earlier, I think it is a good technique.

One of our favorite places to eat was the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn. The restaurant was called the Pool. It was sad when it was closed and given back to the family. We loved sitting by the rose garden as we ate. The photo of her seated was when the scillas were blooming in late April. She never minded to wait for long periods as I photographed flowers or butterflies.

My son Isaac made of video of her telling stories. She had so much to say that it ended up over an hour. She had stories about her career, her faith and advice.

Below is a photo taken in her house. We loved sitting at the counter looking out the window with a pot of coffee, some cookies and great conversation.
I lost a very good friend on Saturday, Alice Raftary at the age of 86. We had just gone pants shopping at Von Maur the day before and had a lovely lunch at Bravo. She had salmon, I had steak. I recommended gelato for dessert with a shot of espresso and of course she had endless coffee refills. She ate it all......that is how she lived life.
We had lots of wonderful lunches and chats on the phone over a span of 24 years. Lunch at her home was always lovely with beautiful hand painted china, a silver place setting, cloth napkins and a pot of tea.
She treated me like a daughter a friend and a colleague. We scrapbooked together, sang together, went to Belle Isle to see flowers, the symphony, plays, shopped for clothes and shared lots of stories. I don't think she ever missed an Elderberry Party, she loved coming to them so much. One of my favorite things we did was read stories and poems to various grade schools together. We both loved poetry very much, and sometimes we would even sing the poems and act them out.
 She was the first to say yes to any of my ideas, and she had a knack for knowing the good ideas from the bad.  She commissioned me to make the paintings below for her husband Ray after he died. She thought they captured him in a whimsical way and paid me full price.
She was legally blind from macular degeneration, but I always told her she was the most discriminating person I had every met. She could pick out the nuances that would make something better. I showed her the painting above on Friday and she said the jaw was a little off, (and she was right...I will fix it!)
She taught me how to walk a blind person and she told people to be sure to wear a cane so people will not accidentally hurt you. I have told this strategy to a few of my other friends who needed protecting.
She and Ray came to both of the boys confirmations, which is a duty that no one else volunteered for. They thought my boys were "Good Stuff".
She taught me you can ask for help and not feel bad, but be sure to be a good conversationalist and show that you care. That is all people really want in life, so people are happy to help. By the same token she had more courage and independence than anyone I knew. Up until the end she would think nothing of grabbing her cane and a suitcase, jumping on a place or a bus and going to a blind rehab convention to speak or talk with others in the field. She tried para-sailing a few years ago against my better judgement, but she would tell that story to all who would listen and they would be inspired too.
Even though she came from a big family, she always had room for more. She knew who needed to be in her fold. She knew who needed a call, a smile, a bit of encouragement....or a nip in the heel. Goodbye Alice I will miss you, your friendship and your big smile. Call me sometime.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful and loving experience with Alice. I'm so amazed at how much the two of you were alike. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to meet her and see for myself for how loving and supportive she was. I was often envies of the relationship you had with her wishing that I had someone that I could spend time with and learn from. You were so blessed to have her. I know her memory will last forever with you and I know you will keep her legacy a life by contining doing what you have learned from her.

Laura said...

Thanks Kim...yes I was so fortunate. Thank you for the comment and the condolences.