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                         MYRA'S STORY
                        (A true story)

                      ~~Author: Hal Ray~~

Every fall the array of colors draws me to northern Michigan, near Crystal Lake.

It is a time of transition, a time of changing seasons and of memories passing; one of those rare moments when dying things bring beauty to our lives. It is at times like this that I remember the day that I met Myra.

The fall morning was crisp, when I had been dispatched to a home on Gribbon Lane to investigate the reported death of a person in her home.

As I walked the decorative little walkway to the lovely brick home, I was struck by the abundance of late
blooming flowers mixed with the dying ones of late summer.

It was a beautiful home, surrounded by a wonderful mix of flower beds, junipers and blue spruce. Everything was obviously well maintained with loving care.

As I walked through a row of little bushes with brightly colored berries to the door of the home I was greeted by Ruth Morton. Ruth was a lifelong friend of Myra Jones.

Tears filled Ruth's eyes as she told the story of how she was checking on her dear friend, Myra, who had been ill with heart problems, when she found her in bed, not breathing, and called 911.

It is not generally known that it is the job of the police to do an investigation when someone dies in the home. It's just a matter of making sure that the death was due to natural causes.

I, as a veteran police officer, had been called on many times to investigate deaths in the home.

It is a sad duty that most officers dread. There is nothing worse than having to ask, what are sometimes perceived as prying questions of a family grieving over the death of their beloved child, mother or father.

I was somewhat relieved to find that Myra lived alone.

Ruth told me that Myra's sister, Grace, lived in Livonia Michigan. Ruth had contacted her and she was on the way.

Everything appeared to be a case of natural death. It would be a matter of calling the coroners office. He would release the body to the families choice of mortuaries, I would be back in service.

It did not work out quite that way.

I called the coroners office only to find out that he and his investigators were tied up on a homicide. I would have to wait for his return call and the arrival of Myra's sister. I might be there for a while.

Settling into a comfortable chair in the living room, I thought to myself: how sad it was that this woman had died alone, without the comfort of family or friends at her side. She must have had a very lonely life. She had never married or had the joy of having children of her own. She only had the older sister, who lived out of town. What a shame.

Sitting there, looking around the room, I was struck by the large collection of pictures, in frames, spread from one end of the home to the other.

I wondered why a woman, with not much family, would have so many pictures.

I was impressed by two things as I looked at the large array of pictures. Each picture was set in an entirely different frame and they were all arranged in perfect order. Each group of pictures was perfectly balanced. The whole home was in perfect balance. Each thing was neatly and tastefully arranged in its own place. It was beautiful.

I was mesmerized by the unique display of photos. Wondering what it was all about, I slowly walked around the rooms. What I found captivated me completely.

Most of the frames contained photos of Myra, immersed lovingly, in the midst of groups of children. The
children were all smiling and draped over her body in a wreath of hugs. Myra had the broadest smile of all.

A closer look at the photos revealed that the children were not just her students. They were children from third world countries, little moppets wearing worn clothing, their makeshift shacks for homes in the background. There were donkeys and crude carts in some of the pictures. The children were a virtual travel folder for the third world.

Each of the frames appeared to be from their country of origin. Each was lovingly chosen to denote the importance of the people in them.

A smile started to build on my face, as I continued my quest around the room.

Some of the frames contained letters from former students. A small photo of the author, as they appeared when they were a student of Myra's, was in the lower corner next to a picture of them as they now appeared with their children.

The authors spoke of their love and admiration for Myra. Some talked about how they wished that their children could have had her as a teacher.

Smaller frames contained brightly colored cards with scribbled words of, " I love you Miss Jones."

I was so touched by it all that, misty eyed, I turned to the direction of her room and said, " Way to go Myra."

Anxiously, I awaited the arrival of Grace. I wanted to hear all about Myra's story.

When Grace arrived she was understandably overcome with grief. I left her alone with Myra.

Myra was then removed from her home.

After a time Grace and I sat and talked. She relented how sad it was that Myra had died alone. She was upset about not having been there when her sister left this world, and was also sad about not being able to do anything for her.

I told her how sad I had been for Myra when I first arrived at the house and about my warm experience of seeing Myra's pictures. I told her about the joy I had felt after seeing how much Myra was loved and admired by all of those children and former students.

A slight smile came over Grace's face as she said, " I am so happy that you saw all of that."

We talked about how Myra was a woman who lived a very interesting yet ordered life. It was obviously very important to Myra that things in her life were well ordered.

Grace said, "Yes, that's very true."

I then told Grace, There is something that you can do for Myra. " Please tell me what it is?" she asked.

I told her how much it would have pleased Myra if she were to put the house, that Myra obviously loved so much, back in order, to help cap off her life.

"Lets go make her bed, straighten up things, to see that her house is in the order she would have wanted it to be in before we leave." I suggested.

Grace had a surprised look on her face, and said, " What a wonderful idea."

While we made the bed, Grace talked about Myra's life. She told, in loving detail, about a life that was filled with meaning and purpose. She spoke, mostly, about a woman whose life was dedicated to an international family of children. Myra, I learned, had been associated with a host of children's relief organizations throughout the world.

She told me that, in the beginning, Myra had been satisfied simply with contributing funds to the organizations.

She decided that she wanted to see for herself that the money she had contributed was being properly spent and that the children were being well cared for.

That being her purpose, at the end of one of her school years, she packed some belongings, a bag of trinkets, and embarked on her first journey to see, her children.

That was the first of what was to become her annual journey of love.

Over the years Myra visited many countries. She basked in the warmth of the loving arms of the children seen draped around her in the pictures. These children, were in fact, her international family. They were for her, a wreath of love and adoration surrounding the globe.

I asked Grace why I had never heard of this woman before. Why had the whole world not known about her sister and her touching story.

I was filled with admiration as Grace told me how Myra had gone to great lengths to see that all of her good deeds, her interesting and totally unselfish life were known, only to her sister and a couple of her closest friends. She abhorred the thought of anyone robbing her, or the children of this sacred bond of love.

Grace finished telling me about her sisters life as she put the finishing touches on Myra's life, and her beloved home: a tea cup washed and placed in the cupboard with loving care, a hair brush put neatly in line with the others.

She then made one long thoughtful stoke of a cloth over some of Myra's most prized possessions. Each stoke of the cloth seemed like a caress, trying to capture each and every memory of her sister to take with her.

We then locked up and left the home.

Walking Grace to her car, I thanked her for allowing me to celebrate her sisters life with her. Grace stopped, turned to me with a broad smile on her face and said, "Yes Hal, that is what we have done, celebrated my sisters life."

"What a wonderful memory to leave here with." Grace said. Tears filled her eyes, and mine, as she simply said, "Thank You." Then drove away. I stood there for a while trying to absorb the moment and the feel of it.

I smiled as I drove away from Myra's home that morning. My thoughts moved slowly now. I wanted to etch this memory in my mind forever. I was grateful for having been there to get to know Myra, learn about her life and to have been there to say...goodbye.



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