1.30.2008

In Memoriam

For fellow Kielite, "Ginnie" Ortlieb.

I have never encountered a human being who faced down so many medical obstacles to her life. There were so many times I was amazed that she had soldiered through. She never put on a smile through it all - she was a smile. Even when she could barely see, when she could barely walk, when she was rushed to the hospital one more time.

I visited Ginnie once during college when she was in the UW Hospital in Madison. It was unlike any hospital visit I'd ever made. I will never forget how she greeted me cheerily, wearing a bright, colorful Tweetie Bird shirt, the perfect mirror of her personality, a personality that had long ago transcended illness, one that had pared away all the facades and fuzzy lenses we put in front of ourselves and seen life for what it was. She will be sorely missed.

I last talked with Ginnie in September. She was, as always, warm, caring, and genuinely interested in what I was up to at the time. We had a great conversation. During its course, I learned, to my surprise, that she was a reader of this blog. It was comforting to see that she was smiling as we parted, smiling despite the great weariness her body had imparted. But that was Ginnie.

It is tough to lose a person dear to you when you're over a thousand miles away with no feasible way of making it back to pay your respects.

To Ken and the family, my respects and deepest sympathy.