HERE LIES ANNIE MAY PARKER by Cheryl McGuire
Annie May Parker
(b. 1825 – d. 1845)
Cantankerous - Beginning to End
Gone to the Peace of Her Wild Blue Yonder
Annie May was the tenth child of Richard Parker and Geraldine Merryweather. Born of breech birth in the sweltering heat of a May afternoon, Annie May held forth, feet planted, determined not to arrive at all. And this was only the beginning.
Annie May had opinions. From birth, she commanded her world by sheer force of will. Dr. Balforth, called upon not once or twice but thrice, descended from his buggy to assure Geraldine Merryweather Parker that her tenth child bellowed not from want or pain but from a domination of spirit and strength. Perplexed, Annie May’s nine older siblings stared over the edge of their youngest sister’s cradle, confused over what calamity should illicit such constant and boisterous complaint.
Annie May was offended by birth itself! She recognized the planet and hadn’t enjoyed life in its environs the first, or even the hundredth, time round. Steadfast this time, she was determined to get the jump on it, refusing to let the world or its motley inhabitants get the upper hand.
Annie May grew taller. She learned to walk, talk, and read, and she read incessantly. Not unkind, she nonetheless ordered her universe to her liking, withering unfortunate transgressors with a severe and uncompromising expression that required no other form of communication to effect results. An aura of resolve emanated from Annie May that overlaid all about her. She was of an otherworldly intelligence, mingling with others when required, preferring solitude and the pleasure of her own counsel.
Annie May knew she would not dwell long upon the earth, and one afternoon while reading a book under the shade of a favorite elm, she stepped free of her mortal remains. A brother and sister who had come to fetch her home for supper found her in the late afternoon leaning gracefully against the elm, her book resting in her lap, her forefinger marking the spot where she had paused in her reading to look up toward the heavens, that wild blue yonder she seems never to have left, her final statement a serene smile gracing her face.
Dr. Balforth found no cause of death. There would be none. But everyone knew. Annie May had orchestrated her departure with the skill of a fine artist, the timing, the color, the canvas were all of her own choosing, her egress sanctioned in a way her arrival had not been.
Strangely, and surprisingly, for all who knew Annie May, instead of a hearty good riddance, her passing would leave an inexplicable void. Ignorant of it, everyone, to a person, had been sustained by Annie May’s solitary strength, which had infused their lives with spiritual order and a sense of higher purpose. Unaware of the gift, they misunderstood and often condemned and criticized her for what they perceived a perversity of personality.
Now, they wrestled with a vast and sudden emptiness. In the days and years ahead, they would come to speak of Annie May with gratitude, nodding their heads in collective approval, quietly aware they still really didn’t understand what had happened.