About an hour ago, Lorayn Wright passed away from complications due to cancer. Lorayn was one of the superhuman people who served as an aide in my mother's special education class, teaching 18-22 year olds some of the skills they needed to make it on their own in the world. Like my mother, she believed in treating the kids like kids, not like special kids. She held them to the same expectations as any other student, and they responded and flourished in that classroom.
But they were her kids, and if anyone was going to be hard on them, it was HER, no one else. One day, one of the lunch ladies came in complaining to Lorayn about something some of them did at lunch time. They were being kids. But the lunch lady was on the war path. Lorayn patiently heard her out and then retorted "For Christ's sake, they're RETARDED!" Lunch lady left in a huff, but never complained again.
I was lucky enough to be a chaperon on my mom's class trip to Mexico a few years ago, and it was then that I really got to know Lorayn. She was awesome. She cared about the kids more than I can possibly describe, but she cared about them becoming adults, and productive members of society, too. Lorayn was always ready with a quip or a joke. She complained not because she was a whiner, but because it was funny to do it. Her timing was impeccable. She left a mark on everyone she came in contact with. She was the mother bear for a den of misfit cubs.
When she was first diagnosed, she was in the hospital in San Ramon. I drove up to visit her, and she was appalled that I was seeing her without her hair coiffed. I brought Godiva chocolates for her that she couldn't eat at the time due to the chemo. She told me that they'd be her kids inheritance. The chemo didn't work, and they moved on to radiation. But they missed on tumor on her brain. Mom called me the other night to tell me that it didn't look good. She couldn't see well, and was having pain up and down her spine. I sent my love and well wishes for her.
And now she's gone.
It seems like I'm doing alot of eulogizing lately. It really sucks.
Lorayn, you've definitely earned your place in heaven, ma'am. Keep an eye on the kids from wherever you are. They need all the help they can get.