I have this photo of my Great Aunt Jean above my bed. She’s sitting in a giant chair on top of the old Colonial Furniture building. She once told me that although it was a reckless decision to make the climb, it was for her popular column “On The Town” in the Orlando Sentinel so it was worth the risk. Hand shading her eyes, she’s looking straight into the sun. A true Floridian, she loved the sun.
Today Jean died. She was 95. She drank martinis, adored cats and was perfectly salty. She traveled the world, interviewed Cary Grant and was once kissed by Elvis (Google Jean Yothers Elvis). She was smart and a damn good journalist, inevitability paving the way for the many women who followed her lengthy career as “the girl reporter.” Orlando was lucky to have her, but our family was even luckier.
The day before she went into Hospice, my mom told me Jean was calmly sitting by the window with her eyes closed, head back, sun pouring in. As I listened on the phone, I looked up and saw that framed photo of Jean, looking out my window and facing the early morning sun.
I don’t have a sense of certainty as to what happens to us when we die, but my hope is that Jean is somewhere peaceful, perhaps in that giant chair on the roof of Colonial Furniture, breaking the rules and bathing in the Florida sun.