Saturday, January 8, 2011
What I love about Edna Henderson
Edna Earl Henderson was the best Scrabble player I knew. I spent most of two weeks playing with her every afternoon back in 2006, and I don't believe I ever saw her play fewer than 45 points in one round. I usually made about seven or eight points in any given play, so I tried to learn from her. As my points inched up higher, though, so did hers. Eventually she was making 65 points on one play.
She had the thickest, most beautiful accent of anyone I've ever known, and she preferred to be called just Edna. That's because people - especially Southerners - were inclined to smush the two names together, til it sounded something like Ed'Nurl. She liked crosswords and her little dog Duncan, who would lick the lotion off her legs. She used a hammer to beat the spines of her crossword books so they'd stay open while she played. I am pretty sure I loved her the second I met her.
Edna Earl (there could be an E on the end of that Earl, I'm not sure) was Lynette Hanson's mother. She had spent a good portion of her life (30 years!) traveling around in a motor home, but by the time I met her, she was widowed and living in a trailer with Lynette in Byram. I was a teenager then, and she and Lynette took better care of me than anyone ever could have in Mississippi. That is to say, they loved me, and they let me know it every chance they got. A few years ago, they moved to Portland, and I followed soon after. They let me stay with them back when I was just test-driving the city, and that's when Edna whooped my behind at Scrabble every day.
She's been sick off and on for the past year, and I've been meaning to get over to see her. She lives just two blocks from my girlfriend's house. But for some reason I never made it over there. She passed away last night -- lying in her bed, just like she always wanted to -- and now I won't be able to ever see her again. But I won't ever forget her voice, her laugh, her smile and most of all her spirit. I always felt better around her.
Thankfully, I have a few pieces of her still saved in pictures and audio files. Even though she was several generations older than me, she never seemed too put off when I asked her to participate in one of my latest creative ideas. She was one of my first subjects for the MY STUFF series. And when I was trying to distinguish myself at the Oregonian as someone who could get Podcast material, she let me record her talking about the things she loved about Oregon.
Edna, I love you and will you miss always.