Thursday, January 8, 2009

Merrie's Threads

Merrie’s Threads

I know a gal named Merrie
with a spirit like... Christmas.
Well, a secular christmas,
big, bawdy, unbound.

She is merry,
living on a thread of hope.
Give her an inch,
she’ll take a yard
and wrap it ‘round those she loves,
tight, and hang on for dear life.

She bargains...
“Dear Life,
I love you, I want you
I have a simple dream for more life-
A house in the country for me and my kids,
to watch them grow and flower.
I love to work, making pictures and money,
so I shouldn’t have to ask any more.
That’s all I ask.”

She tugs for more thread,
and rushes toward the cure.
“You got it, I’ll take it. I’m there!”
She wraps the thread around all that is left of
her four-foot-ten-inch body,
becoming invincible, living on hope,
devouring doubt.

She grows big, bawdy, unbound.
“I’m still here!” she shouts. “I am life itself!
How can this stop me? Can we party now?
I’ll take some more of that!”
She takes till she’s full of hope and nothing less.

She’s a girl on a thread so long,
it must be extended from heaven-

Ancestors hard at work,
trimming hours, days, weeks, months,
years off of lives already lived.
They don’t need them any more.
They want her to have them.

She gathers up her hand-me-downs from heaven.

“Schmates,” her grandmothers whisper.
“Zie Gezunt. Wear them in good health!”

Proudly she wears their hugs and kisses,
till they’re worn out.
Then, yanks for more thread
and gets it!

Only heaven knows how long the thread is,
but when there is no more,
there will still be hope-
the worn, warm, comfortable clothing of the soul.

January Post to Remember Merrie

I am dedicating my January post to my cousin Merrie Renee Choder Johnson, who passed away in January of 2007. Merrie left behind her three beautiful children, her devoted parents, family and friends. Our lives are forever changed for having known her.
Her courageous battle to stay alive gave me an appreciation for the gift of life, and for the heroic person she became because of her illness. I have posted my poem, ‘Merrie’s Threads’, written when it occurred to me early in her illness, despite a world of love and prayers, that Merrie would not triumph over breast cancer. I thought ahead to her funeral, and what comfort I might bring. I’m grateful I was able to share this with Merrie on her thirty-sixth birthday, and was able to perform this, receiving a direct infusion from the ancestors, later that year at her funeral.
I am posting her obituary, as well as a brief visual biography. Merrie was a visual person, a photographer by trade, and this would be her favorite part. Photo credits go to the family collection, Tracy Kauffman Wood, Merrie Renee Johnson, and Anthony B. Wood.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I ask if you are able and so inclined, to please make a contribution toward curing breast cancer, whether it be through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 125 S. 9th St., Suite 202, Phila. PA 19107, or by
learning about the work of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education 300 E. Lancaster Avenue - Suite 100 Wynnewood, Pennsylvania 19096 , or any other way you’d wish. Let’s re-enliven, and fulfill the hope that fueled Merrie.

Merrie Renee Choder Johnson 4/7/70 - 1/4/07

Merrie Renee Choder Johnson

Merrie Renee Johnson (Choder), 36, died of breast cancer on Thursday January 4, 2007. She is survived by her three children, Megan, 15, Zachery, 14 and Casey, 9. Also, she is survived by her three devoted parents, Sybil Weinstein, Alan Choder and Dennis Weinstein. She leaves her brothers, Greg (Rae) Choder and Daniel (Alyson) Weinstein and her nephew Joshua.
Merrie fought a courageous and unforgettably determined battle against cancer. She was diagnosed in September 2001, with Stage Three breast cancer. The seriousness of this diagnosis never diminished her positive, hopeful attitude. She was determined to be a survivor. And she did survive with gusto and a boisterous spirit for almost six years. She never gave up hope as the disease ravaged her body. She simply adapted to the changes in her body resulting from constant treatments. She wore her bald head and flat chest proudly to tell the world, “If I can get through this, so can you!” She focused on what could never be taken from her-her love for her family and love for life itself. She became well known to the clients and staff at the Oncology Unit at Abington Hospital because when she wasn’t being treated, she was there to chat, joke and bring treats to the other patients. She was proactive in her treatment and her doctors and nurses appreciated the strength, energy and optimism she brought to their collective fight. In December, the hospital awarded Merrie a grant, so that she could be home with her family for Christmas with the necessary help she needed.
Merrie was an artist and comedian. She and her brother Daniel, would turn family dinners into slapstick farce. Everyone remembers Merrie smearing her young daughter Casey’s face into a plate of food before the toddler could start eating and do it herself. With her tremendous regard for family and art, and her whimsical spirit, it made so much sense that she became a wedding photographer. Her clients and colleagues will remember Merrie Renee as a high spirited, hard working perfectionist who obviously loved her job. She began her career working for Lindelle Studios, and grew her own business for ten years well into her battle with breast cancer. She only stopped working recently when it became physically impossible for her. She was supportive to her colleagues and competitors always giving them referrals when she was not available. Her wedding clients usually ended up as friends. Merrie gathered a community of friends and family around her like water droplets gathering strength and merging on a window pane. She leaves us all with her tremendous spirit full of joy, hope and love.