I've been wanting to share this story, but didn't really have the energy. I think it's time now.
The month or so before Maggie passed away, she had taken to calling herself Miss California. We're really not sure where this came from but we did record her the night she decided that was her name. the video is in this post Maggie World: . Miss Congeniality - Just ask her. As I stated in that post, Maggie was not short on self esteem.
Shortly after that night I met my friend Jennifer for coffee. Jen is a beautiful young woman who is making her mark in the world doing good works. I met her a few years ago when she worked with Ronald McDonald house and now help her out on a board for Le Donne d'Italia, a group of Italian women promoting and preserving the Italian Culture in San Francisco and especially in North Beach. North Beach is the Italian heart of San Francisco, but it seems to shrink every year as Chinatown and gentrification encroach from opposite ends. I am not Italian, but I do love North Beach, Italian food and every Italian I know and I am happy to lend my board experience (such as it is) to help Jen.
Jennifer had never actually met Maggie, but she knew all about her and always wanted to know what was happening with her. She delighted in the stories about Maggie and her antics, and really loved Maggie's attitude. When I told her about the Miss California story, Jen doubled over laughing. She said she was going to bring Maggie a sash for Miss California. I smiled, but then I remembered. Jen actually WAS Miss Italia California and she had sashes by the dozens. The smile changed to uproarious laughter.
Maggie passed away probably a week or so after that coffee date with Jennifer. Obviously I forgot all about our shared laughter as we slogged through the terrible hospitalization, the aftermath of losing Maggie and the whirlwind of planning and attending her services.
There was a reception after the Mass and I hugged hundreds of well wishers, friends and relatives. I actually had to ask my college roommate if she was there for the service because all of it is such a blur. (She was and we had a lengthy conversation...) One thing I do remember very clearly about that reception was seeing Jennifer's beautiful face and when she went to hug me, she handed me this.
It made me cry then and it does now. Maggie got her sash after all. Though Jennifer's official reign as Miss Italia California ended a couple of years ago, she continues to do the good work. The sash is draped over Maggies' chair right now and will stay there.
Long may she reign.