MO to Most: Reflections on the Passing of My Only Sister

Neva Maureen Woodiel Shireman

I never knew her as “Mo,” as she has so fondly been remembered for years by other family members and friends in Arkansas County and afterward in Fayetteville AR where she lived and taught and played tennis for decades, and now that she’s left us, by those of us who gathered in Fayetteville last Tuesday for a gathering just to remember her and to clarify how much all of our lives were enriched by her presence over the years.

We did what we could, the few of us invited to express in some way our love for her and the significance of her presence among us, and we did so, struggling as we were naturally inclined, to deliver our message through even more natural tears, brought on by simple remembrance.

Her son John’s almost heroic introduction and conclusion for those of us who in some way spoke or performed in an effort to express the sentiments of the hundreds of friends and admirers present.   The music of David Starr and Ben Harris that she loved and admired so much, my and her neice Kay Woodiel’s comments, as well as Paul Woodiel and Robin Zeh’s performance of Swedish folk tunes, were simple attempts to reflect the feelings of those present by reflecting  a degree of assurance.

Like so many among us, I somehow continue to expect to have a text from her any day.

On my way home yesterday, at about 40,000 feet somewhere over the Carolinas heading north from Atlanta I found myself, like others perhaps about to reach the 81 mark,  reading Marcus Cicero – first century BCE – (as I have for a while)  on my IPad, a piece called “On Friendship and Old Age” from which I share the following:

“The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age — all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.”

     Of these observations, I choose to associate myself, as I believe Maureen would, with “the soberness of maturer years,” a perfect point from which to reflect on my memories of “Mo” to my dying day.

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