Skeleton Keys

marion's Birdbath

Where do I begin this post?  It isn’t often I am at a loss of words, but the news of a dear friend and neighbor who died over the night has me feeling a different perspective today.  How do you sum up the magnitude of her life, such a woman ahead of her time.  She graduated college, had a career, married but never had children, and was a huge philanthropist for the arts, specifically music at Wake Forest University.  Maybe this makes more sense for me to mention that she was 107 years of age, so during her time most women were simply not doing all these things.

When we moved into our house she was already in her 90’s and still driving.  Driving I say loosely, she would amazingly back her car out of her narrow driveway once a week, on Sundays during church when the roads were quiet.  She was fiercely independent, brilliant and sharp as a tack until her last breath, and a phenomenal duplicate bridge player.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she had a bridge game last week, and chances are she won.

Marion pretty much outlived most of her family and many friends, and over the years we really enjoyed having her next door.  She always remembered the exact dates and ages of my children.  I will never forget her coming to the first Oyster Roast we had here, and she arrived with her handbag over her arm.  She joined us for many Holidays, and her stories at the Thanksgiving Table were always such a welcome addition.  One year we lost power and she stayed with us during the worst ice storm we have had.  She even adopted one of our cats, Wilbur, who was her very dear companion until she finally had to move to assisted living for the last few years.  We always put our Christmas Tree in our sunroom, as after the first year we lived here I would see her looking at its sparkly lights every night, and for her to later tell me how much she enjoyed our tree.  She cleaned out her attic garage one year, and kindly brought over a box of some of her Christmas things.  There are so many more stories and things to share about her, catch me one day and I can tell you more.  Marion loved to eat, but she did not love to cook.  Since she moved away there are very few meals I don’t think about her, as she was always the recipient of our dinners, too.  These memories I will cherish forever.

Marion Secrest, amazing woman, amazing friend.  Her birthday is the day before mine, and celebrating her birthday was a gift in itself to me.  Many years ago she gave me the key to her house.  There are probably very few people who still have skeleton keys to their homes, and I cherish it.  Thank you for allowing me to share her with you.  And thank you Marion, for helping me to enjoy the best of life by knowing you.  In sweet memory of you…

Skeleton key

9 thoughts on “Skeleton Keys

  1. Gayle says:

    Thanks Julia for letting us know. I know she was a wonderful friend and neighbor to you. What a gift you both were to each other. I love how you included her in so many ways in your lives.

  2. Kem says:

    Dearest Julia, WHAT a beautiful tribute to Marion. It made me cry..again over the loss of someone so dear. She was absolutely amazing..telling us at her birthday dinner last February about talking her broker OUT of selling her GE stock in 1965!!! We will all miss her, but I feel so very fortunate to have know and loved such a truly remarkable woman!

  3. Gwen Blackmer says:

    Thank you Julia. I never knew or met her, but have heard about her ever since I started playing duplicate. What wonderful things you have said about her. I am so sorry for your loss, but how wonderful to have known her so well and have such great memories. Love, Gwen

  4. sissy whittington says:

    What a beautiful loving tribute. I feel Marion’s spirit and energy in your loving words…just what I needed to read tonightHope you are doing wellSissy

  5. ellen jackson says:


    Sent from my iPhone

    On Sep 20, 2013, at 11:30 AM, julia’s take away gourmet wrote: bluemoose2012 posted: ” Where do I begin this post? It isn’t often I am at a loss of words, but the news of a dear friend and neighbor who died over the night has me feeling a different perspective today. How do you sum up the magnitude of her life, such a woman ahead of her”

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