June 30, 1950-December 13, 2014
(taken fall, 2013)
Without our oldest little neighbor
Our hall isn’t quite the same these days.
In my mind she’s sitting in the armchair watching a noisy group of kids
Or standing at the plants with a little friend, taking help and giving praise.
She was part of our daily life
Coming by to hand out candy to my boy and my girl.
Serving, sharing and sometimes complaining in her well-known Sheila way
And knocking everyday just to say ‘hi’ to my littlest one with a head full of curl.
She’d come with an invitation for a walk down to Kairos with N
And for no reason, she came with me to H’s swim lesson at the Y
She’d brush or braid my girls’ hair if she had the chance
Or all dressed up, she’d need help with a clasp on her jewelry, so she’d come by.
No one else could get our kids to sit in chairs and converse like adults,
Baggies of potato chips and cups of tea were such treats for them.
N would go down for a visit and come skipping home awhile later
Feeling so grown-up and so loved, like a special little gem.
In her home of hospitality, she’d carefully prepare meals… food being of great importance.
Specific about tastes and flavors and spices, she gave it all her own delicious flair.
Just a couple months ago she told me of the days she tried to be a nun,
And that she couldn’t do it, in the end, because of the boring menu there!
So often there was a knock with a delicious offering of curry
How I miss that she loved us in that way.
Once though, after I delivered A, she brought me over a for-real Ox-tail
And I’m so sorry Sheila, but I didn’t know what to do with that cuisine on that day.
It wasn’t just in this season that she’s been dear to us, you know,
She and Mike had been neighbors way back at Star Ranch and had a special friendship, I would say.
And so when we were dating, Mike took Sheila to the mall to decide which engagement ring to get me.
I said yes, flew out, got to meet her, and a special friendship it would stay.
Two years later we moved to Africa and it was just emails that came and went.
She’d write to say that she was always be praying for us and our kids as we’d come and go.
Email letters, as you may know, with extra capitals, bold fonts and pretty colors would be sent.
She’d just write to send her love, and it would bless me that she’d take the time to tell us so.
A vibrant occupant of our hallway has different neighbors for now,
Good news for them, sad news for you and me.
Sometimes I feel so angry that she was too stubborn to take care of herself,
So very eager to move on from here and the next life to see.
I think of Katie and I’s miscarried babies, siblings of some of her little favorites…
Imagining they’re children now, and into her home they have happily been drawn.
She’s taught them what a durkimaan is and has made them French fries in her toaster oven,
And it’s allowed her joy from our little hallway kids, to somehow carry on.
We were her home, we are her family.
For now, she’s gone, a new life for her is just at the start.
Sheila Pillay, we love you so very much,
And you’ll remain forever in my heart